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Ruth Herman Wells

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Classroom Posters Can Improve Students' Behavior, Attitude and Motivation
by Ruth Herman Wells   
Not "rated" by the Author.
Last edited: Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Posted: Wednesday, September 10, 2008

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    When you think of interventions to use with problem
    and challenging  students, normally you probably think
    of active approaches. But, there is a whole world
    of powerful, passive  approaches that are frequently
    forgotten or completely overlooked.
    With that in mind, we ask you to look around your
    classroom or office. What do you see on your walls? The
    items on your wall can have  on-going, major impact--
    all without you doing anything at all. We tend
    to forget that young people may spend hours
    each day just staring at  what surrounds them.
    If you surround them with nothing, they may
    get nothing. If you surround them with something
    powerful and  persuasive, you may change lives.

    Our unusual, startling posters
    (http://www.youthchg.com/posters.html)

    have been drawing an awful lot of comment lately,
    and that's  what made us realize how easy it is to
    underestimate the power  of passive interventions
    like simple posters. People have been
    commenting that our  posters can sometimes
    accomplish what  conventional approaches couldn't.
   The range of posters that you  can use is
    unlimited, from thought-provoking to haunting,
    from inspirational to motivational, from troubling
    to sarcastic,  from silly to calming. Let us show you
    how to maximize your impact beyond
    conventional, active interventions. Put your walls
    work for you, and  you will be surprised how
    much more you can achieve when you surround
    your students with powerful  agents of change.
   You may end up being pleasantly surprised
   how passive interventions can underscore, enhance
   and even "hammer home" the points you are
   trying to make with your  young people.

    We will look at passive interventions in two ways.
   First, we'll cover the surprising range of passive
   intervention posters. Second, we'll show
   you free, fast and low-cost ways to make your
   own posters if you have more time than budget.
  These ideas will not require you to have a lot of
   time, art skills or computer expertise.
   We'll even show you how to get  customized
   posters without you having to make anything
   or invest much time yourself.

    TYPES OF POSTERS

    Everyone has seen the motivational and
    inspirational posters that have  become commonplace,
    but there are so many more options than that.
    Here are some other often overlooked ways to
    make your walls work  for you all day:

     * Shocking Posters
       Shocking posters are jarring and unexpected.
       See an example (Poster #15) here.
     . (You will want to view each poster
       as examples to get full value from this article.)
       It's hard to just shake off the comment of "I'm  
       looking for the lowest paying job I can find ."
       If you have to look at that comment for hours
       per day, it could stick with you.

     * Posters That Can Teach
       It's hard to believe that a piece of paper
       tacked to the wall can teach, but look
       at this silly poster (Poster #22).
       It does convey important information to
       students about how to get help from teachers.
       It's silly but effective to
       call teachers "lousy mind readers."

     * Posters That Reinforce What Has Been Taught
       Poster #22 (from the example used directly above)
       can also reinforce and remind students of
       what they already know. It's better that a
       poster provides an on-going reminder
       than you have to stop the class to
       provide a verbal reminder. See how
       passive interventions can work better
       than active ones.

     * Posters Deliver Messages When
       Words Don't Work
       Words sometimes fail to deliver the
       message, but pictures and colors may do
       the job when words fail. Take a look at
       Poster #28. A counselor might
       work hard to let a
       vulnerable youngster know that the
       counselor is a helping resource, and
       the child may not act on the message.
       This poster-- a passive intervention--
       perhaps placed on the outside of the
       counselor's office door, can actually be
       more effective and lasting lure than
       mere words.
              
     * Posters Haunt
       A poster can look down on students for
       months or years at a time. Some posters
       can end up being down-right haunting.
       Well-executed pictures and text can gnaw
       at a youngster in ways that words can't
       accomplish. Look at Poster #7
       to see how bothersome a poster can be.
       Obviously, the headline of "Dropouts
       Needed for High Paying Jobs"
could linger.

     * Other Jobs for Posters
       Posters are obvious candidates for
       inspiration and motivation.  See Poster #34
       as an example.  Sarcasm that might
       seem harsh when spoken,
       can become more acceptable on paper.
       Sarcasm can be a powerful tool when used very
       carefully. The next examples,
       Posters #31 and #33,
       definitely approach that limit-- although they
       do so for a good cause (drug abuse prevention.)
       Posters can also heal and soothe. Look at
       Posters #29 and #30 at                 
       to see how posters can even be reassuring.

    HOW TO MAKE POSTERS

    You may be surprised to learn how easy it is to
    make posters that fit your students' issues. The
    internet has made it so easy. You can find
    endless clip art and photos all over the net.
    Before you use any art or photos, be sure that
    the site grants you use of their resources. A
    popular source of clip art is at Discovery.com
    (www.school.discovery.com/clipart/).
    Free photos are tougher to find because many
    photos are protected by copyright, but a site
    that has completely free pictures that you can
    use is Geek Philosopher.com
    (www.geekphilosopher.com/MainPage/bkgPeople.htm.)
    Word, Paint, Adobe Photoshop and many other
    programs can be easily used to create quick
    but powerful posters that can work all day
    every day on your wall. To grab a picture or
    piece of clip art, simply put your
    cursor over the item, right click "Save Picture
    As" and voila, the item is all your's. It's
    that easy.

    Posters can be of any size. To easily make
    posters without a printer that produces
    large-size pages, print the poster using
    the largest size paper you can, then enlarge
    the poster on your copier. Printing shops
    can also enlarge and print full color posters
    for you, often for a cost of under $2 per
    poster. If you use a common computer program
    to make your posters, you can even send in the
    poster file via the internet, and not even
    have to leave your office or classroom.

    You don't even have to make your posters
    yourself. Instead of traditional consequences
    for misbehavior, have students make posters.
    You can even have the students use their
    misbehavior as the focus of the poster. For
    example, if students get in trouble for
    bullying peers, perhaps they craft a poster
    on bullying. Another idea: hold contests for
    students to make posters. Yet another idea:
    have poster construction become part of your
    instruction. For example, making posters could
    legitimately become an activity for language
    arts if substantial text is used. Making
    posters could be a far better activity
    than staring at the walls during study hall,
    detention or in school suspension. You can
    transform those unstructured, often
    unproductive times into the source of endless
    posters that make your walls work for you.

    I wish I could have included thumbnails of all the
    the example posters. Words don't convey their
    lively, unexpected contents very well. But do take
    the time to check out the referenced posters
    and the recommended resources sites,
    and the article will make more sense. Plus, viewing
    the two resource sites and the unusual example
    posters may spark some great ideas for you to make
   for your walls.

Web Site: Classroom Management Books and Workshops



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