Posters. Everyone has created these at some point during their time spent in school. Some of us recall these times fondly, (not me) and some think of the posters as a waste of time. If you stop and think about it, what academic purpose did these posters serve?
I have met many teachers who have their students create posters for a number of tasks. They make movie posters for a text they read. They make current event posters for a presentation about current events. Sometimes, it appears they are making posters for the simple sake of making a poster. I have even seen junior high teachers assigning posters to draw a character from a book. This counted as a test grade. How is one’s ability to draw remotely related to their ability to read and comprehend a novel?
Teachers use posters as time fillers… busy work… and because many students like them. Often, they work on these posters for days, in class. Often, the results of these poster making binges vary greatly. You end up with a few distinct categories.
Category one is the group that had an adult do the poster for them, earning their child a free 100 in the grade book for doing little to no work. Sounds fair, right? 😐
Category two is the group of students who love art and do a great job drawing, etc. They too earn a high grade, based entirely on their ability to draw/color, print, and glue items to a poster board. Pay no attention to the fact that there is little to no material on the actual poster that demonstrates mastery of anything to do with the objectives taught during the novel study. There were objectives being taught, right?
Category three. This is the group that either isn’t as talented, or simply doesn’t enjoy making a poster. Sometimes, these kids ask to present their material in a digital format instead, such as creating a YouTube video, or re-enacting a scene using Minecraft. They are often told no, because the assignment is for a poster. Really? This person fails the task. Why?
If you have to struggle to figure out the purpose of an assignment, odds are it is not a worthwhile assignment to give. Or, take it one step further… if a person walking by sees the work and has to ponder what the educational objective was, it probably wasn’t all that effective.
We are educators for a reason. We are tasked with the job of doing our best to get the best we can get from our kids. I will take a great in class discussion about the characters in a novel and their traits over a week long movie poster project any day of the week.
Things created in classrooms should be used as tools to demonstrate what has been learned. If a task doesn’t demonstrate that, perhaps some reflection is in order.