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February 21, 2018

Increase Student Engagement with Quote Boards

I’ve been making my students famous for about the last 10 years…..

Strategically placed at the front of my classroom is a gigantic piece of plain, white butcher block paper that is framed with colorful construction paper on all four sides. It’s an obvious, relevant, and practical participant in my classroom…It is my quote board.

It measures approximately 4 feet by 6 feet and waits patiently each day for the just the right moment. Students are well aware of it and, for many, it’s a personal mission to see a small class contribution of theirs translate into a personal, permanent part of my teaching career.

Occasionally during class, time seemingly stands still when a student says something that catches my attention. Sometimes it has to do with our current topic of study…but oftentimes it’s random and spontaneous. Without saying a word, I’ll grab the nearest pen (usually out of one of my students hands!) and stroll over to the quote board. Their quote becomes archived, dated, and most importantly, recognized.

I’ve long told my students that each May I fold up the quote board from that school year and file it along with those from year’s past. They’re made aware that my long-term plan is to compile all of the quotes and bits of wisdom into a book that I will create, publish, and profit off of. It’s all part of my teaching retirement plan. I’m going to be rich someday.

So here’s the obvious question: Why do I do this? I keep a quote board in my classroom for two simple reasons: It helps increase student engagement…and it forces me to listen. My students are just like every classroom participant in the world in that they want to be valued. When a student is quoted, they’re remembered for their thoughts and a certain amount of value is placed on their words. It’s really that simple. Keeping quote boards also forces me to pay close attention to my students and to be in tune with the classroom conversations that are vital to any lesson. To be honest, I try to be a good listener because I don’t want to miss a “quote-worthy” moment!

It might be something you’d like to try in your own classroom! Your students will feel like a million bucks…and it might make you millions someday! (You never know!)

This conversation probably wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t share at least a few student quotes from year’s past with you:

  • “You look like a superhero in your wedding picture!”
  • “The human brain is amazing. It works 24/7, 365 days a year. It works while we sleep, swim, and eat, yet only stops when we take tests.”

Walk into almost any classroom and you’ll find posters displaying motivational quotes, words of wisdom and sayings used to inspire. I might argue that some of the most interesting quotes just might come directly from our own students. Listen carefully and you might agree.

Here’s what I think: When students are moments away from becoming a permanent part of the classroom they’re engaged…and when students are engaged, real learning takes place….all in the hopes of becoming famous – at least in your class.

You can quote me on that.

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