“Alright class today I am going to lecture for about 40minutes then for the last 15 minutes of class you will grab a book and answer the questions at the end of the chapter.” Is this something that you have said in your class? Does to make your blood curdle just thinking about it? Do your students roll their eyes and thinking what is the point? I know that happened to me hundreds of times in my first five years of teaching. The most difficult part of teaching isn’t the WHAT, we all know the content and do a pretty good job of getting that information to our students, it’s getting the students to understand the WHY. WHY are we learning this? WHY is this important? WHY am I here? Brent and I spent years creating activities that go farther than the back of the chapter nonsense and engage students in primary and seconda
ry sources that help to bring history to the present and help our students really understand why these concepts are important. You can examine our website to see some of these assignments and check out our Teacher Pay Teachers store for any of these activities. But that’s not the reason I’m writing this post. The reason I’m writing is to share with you the magic of GALLERY WALKS!
Remember back to when you were in “TEACHER SCHOOL”, I love to call it that, and you had a methods class. The professor would go over all types of methods to use to engage your students. They talked about things like “think, pair share” and “read, write rotate”, I guess they like things in threes. One of the most important aspects to strategies like these are the fact that students are not at their best when they are doing the same thing for 45 minutes, like listening to me talk about all of the million New Deal programs. This tends to knock kids out as if they guzzled a gallon of Sleepy Time Tea. So, we set out to find a teaching technique that got kids out of their seats and engaged with real historical content. We learned about the gallery walk back at “teaching school” and thought we would give that a whirl, and what came of it blew us away!
As you probably know, we teach in the “flipped” style which gives us so much time in class to do other things besides lecture. We have almost 100 different activities that we do during the course of the year, and something we do for nearly every unit is the Gallery Walk. We print out color images and laminate them. Then we head out to the halls and hang them on the walls as if it were a literal museum. Our students head out to the halls and visit each piece of art and answer questions about the image. These questions are meant to guide them towards their learning objective. We expected this to be the extent of what would happen, boy were we wrong. Our students have found this to be an extremely engaging activity and are fascinated with the images. Brent and I are able to walk around with the students and engage in conversations with them. We can tell them stories about the images that help them get a better understanding of what is going on in the image. They ask us questions about concepts they are not understanding, it’s like we are their own personal tutor.
Our students have truly grown to enjoy the gallery walk process and they really enjoy the day when the gallery opens. They love to get out of the classroom and walk around the halls. This gets them out of the routine of the typical day in the classroom. They are able to walk freely and communicate with their classmates and teacher, making it feel less like learning and more like a field trip.
If you haven’t tried a gallery walk in your classroom, throw some pictures up on the walls outside and give your students some questions to answer that will guide them in examining the images. This is a MUST try technique for your classroom, it will change the culture of your class in a positive way. Make sure that you engage with your students during the activity! Use this as an opportunity to gain trust and bond with them. The gallery walk presents you with an easy way to get one on one or small group interactions that allow you to learn more about your students. Your students are learning about history, and you arelearning about your students.
If you want to try any of the gallery walks that we use before creating your own, check out our store for all of our gallery walks. We have a gallery walk for all of our United States History categories except for American Imperialism. Grab one of those out of the store and try it for yourself today!
Thanks for reading and please leave a comment below about your experiences with gallery walks! If you try one of ours, or this inspires you to make your own, come back and let others know how it went.
Check out these individual links to see any of our GALLERY WALKS!
Watch this video below to see one of our gallery walks in action.