Bulletin boards can be a unique and useful tool in education if used properly. Due to a lack of funds and resources, field trips to historical sites and structures can represent a challenge. Bulletin Boards help fill that void through visual stimulation. Objects on the board can grab the attention of students, make them think and/or question, and engage them in the current curriculum. When I can, and when resources allow me to, I change the class bulletin board to draw my students’ attention to new material. This past week my U.S. History classes began their unit on the Civil Rights Movement. When I changed the bulletin board for this unit (featured image on the header), I incorporated a new item; something my students helped create.
If you recall, at the beginning of the school year (August, 2015) I started a project on teaching and displaying the Confederate Battle Flag in the classroom. In this project, the goal is to have students assess what they think about the flag and to reflect on whether or not that assessment is accurate. At the beginning of the year, students recorded their views of the Confederate Flag on index cards and then later entered that information into a Google Form. You can see the results of that here.
I felt, and still feel, that the Confederate Flag is a powerful and controversial symbol. It wields significant meaning in the eye of the beholder. With that in mind, I wanted my classes to find meaning in it, beyond their programmed responses. My students needed to alter the flag to represent themselves. To do this, I asked students to paint on the flag what they initially think when they see this symbol. Students simply transferred what they had originally wrote down from the index cards onto the flag. The end result, is pretty powerful.
Students have only painted half of the flag so far. This half represents what students felt and thought about the Confederate Battle Flag upon entering my class in August. Yesterday, my students completed part two of the assignment. After finishing the unit on the Civil Rights Movement, I asked my students to reflect upon their initial view of the flag. I had them fill out another Google Form and to conclude by writing a brief essay. This time, students had the opportunity to make an educated response rather than record an initial reaction. The essay called for students to reflect on their view of the flag, why they hold this view, and how/if their view of the flag has changed, evolved, or stayed the same after almost two full semesters of U.S. History. Eventually, students will conclude the project by painting their new responses on the right side. I’m excited to see the results.