Over the last few years my teaching has been heavily ingrained with inquiry based learning, problem/project based learning and open ended questioning. This has totally changed how I use bulletin boards in my classroom for making thinking visible.
Basically, you present a fairness dilemma to your students and they choose a side to support by adding “tugs” to their side. I have done this two ways. Sometimes I tell them they have to pick a side and that is the only side they can add their responses to. Other times I have told them they can add their thinking to both sides and in the end we will see which side wins.
Not only is this a great strategy for inquiry but it’s also a great activity for split grade teaching.
How to Set Up the Tug of War Strategy:
In this case I set up 2 bulletin boards with a rope through the middle (you can use string or yarn or even tape to represent the rope). On either side I posted the two sides of the dilemma. I taught a split grade, so my third graders were learning about plants and my fourth graders were learning about animals. I made our dilemmas very similar and we were able to make connections among the two bulletin boards.
For the third graders, I asked them to add their thinking to either “People help plants” or “People Hurt Plants”. Fourth grade did “People help animals” or “People Hurt Animals”.
Let me know if you try this strategy out in your classroom and what you think! I would love to hear from you.
Looking for other ways to make thinking visible in the classroom? Check out my post on building classroom community through growth mindset.