This post offers a differentiated lesson idea for gifted students in their social studies, history, English Language Arts, and STEM classes.
How do you get students to take charge of their own learning? A gallery walk in your own classroom is a engaging and rigorous way for gifted students to deepen their understanding of a time, event, text, and/or series of resources. Using kinesthetic and visual learning, students analyze and evaluate primary sources to gain content knowledge and make connections.
As a gifted enrichment teacher, I often have to expand a student’s understanding on multiple topics in a limited time frame. This strategy allows a teacher to accomplish rigorous discussion, analytical questioning, and teacher and peer feedback in one class period.
How do you used gallery walks in your classroom? Share with us below!
Let’s Talk the Talk
What do all teachers want to do? They want to engage their gifted students while teaching them content. The use of a gallery walk is a kinesthetic strategy for students to gather information, analyze documents, provide feedback, evaluate texts/images, and explore/review learning.
It is a great way to have a class to ask what the Essential Understanding is about a time, event, text, or topic. It allows us as gifted educators to pre-assess and move efficiently to the curriculum and content students most need.
This strategy can be used by students to share their work with peers, examine and or respond to multiple documents or images. It also allows the class to be student-led and allows for independent learning and exploration. Strategies that support this self-directed learning help student achievement (Meichenbaum, Donald, and Andrew Biemiller. 1998. Nurturing independent learners: helping students take charge of their learning.)
Picture a class is about to learn about WWII. The teacher has so much to cover but only has one week. How can you get through it all? A gallery walk is a great way to see what your students know or want to know more about.
I’ve used six primary source photos that require analysis and intensive evaluation.
- A picture of the beaches of D-day
- an American Air Force plane,a propaganda poster,
- a picture of a concentration camp,
- a photo of the Hiroshima bombing,
- and an Axis Powers map.
I set them up around the room on white butcher paper. Students have 10 minutes to analyze, evaluate, and explore the images, then spend time in their groups focusing on decisions made during the war, consequences of the war, and who was involved.
Students can either utilize this worksheet for their individual analysis, which is based on the teacher guides provided by the Library of Congress or students can just make notes using three key angles:
- and Questions, placing them on different colored sticky notes found at the stations.
Students then discuss in their groups their findings and ask each other for clarification on questions they still have. Once students have rotated through the centers, they are called together to have them share their thoughts on each image and what questions them may have. A slide presentation can be utilized at this point with all the images on them to share the photo and share what they gathered from the picture and provide any extra context they may need or websites for further research or the teacher can walk to each photo and pull sticky notes and discuss them whole class.
What works well when I taught this unit is how the students are able to see the expanse of the war across the entire globe. Often students learn about Germany and the US but don’t explore the Pacific and even the involvement of South America. I was proud of the questions the students were able to formulate and how they led the class. It allowed me to see where the students still need more content and what they already knew so I didn’t have to spend time on it.
How Can This Be Used As an Assessment?
This strategy can be used to create background knowledge by having students explore primary sources. Teachers can also use questions posted at each station to help guide students through the gallery if this task is formative, and it can also be used as a part of a final evaluation if you choose the task to be summative. Additionally, it can be used as in the example above as a way to check prior knowledge.
Assessments should always have a purpose and it is to check student understanding and content/skill mastery. When covering information students are often given more of a standardized assessment, this allows students to share their mastery of content/skills through an interactive exploration of documents/images/texts and vibrant discussion.
“Teacher-directed variants of inquiry are ideal for teachers breaking into inquiry because they can easily be incorporated into existing curriculums and preferred teaching approaches” (Eick, Charles, Lee Meadows, and Rebecca Balkcom.
“Breaking into INQUIRY: Scaffolding Supports Beginning Efforts to Implement Inquiry in the Classroom.” The Science Teacher 72, no. 7 (2005): 49-53. http://www.jstor.org/stable/24138120.)
As the quote suggests, one doesn’t need to change their whole unit; you can add this great strategy to the beginning or end of one. It could even be used for review of multiple units before a big test or in the middle to get an idea of what needs to be taught again.
Adapting to various contents allows this to work for many grade levels, so a teacher who teaches multiple grades or subjects could still utilize the strategy. Additionally, the use of images is helpful for ELL learners. Complex text engage the students in higher-order thinking and increase rigor for gifted students, but it becomes much more approachable and enjoyable to them when explored as part of a group as is required in a gallery walk. It encourages inquiry and questioning pushing students to challenge their thinking. The students can also extend their discussion to independent research or a self-chosen final project.
Having students utilize a gallery walk allows for student inquiry and engagement where the teacher is a facilitator of learning not a lecturer. This tool as an assessment highlights the C-3 curriculum concepts of developing questions, evaluating sources, and communicating and critiquing conclusions. Gallery walks help connects classroom goals while increasing rigor with the use of self-direction by the student and by utilizing higher-order thinking skills such as analysis and evaluation.
Let’s Walk the Walk: How Do You Set Up a Gallery Walk?
- Place students in groups of 3-4.
- Ask students to spend 5 minutes viewing each source at a “station” or area of the room. For documents, 4-6 stations should be used depending on the complexity and length of the texts. There can be more stations if students need less time. (Stations should be clearly labeled. I laminate large number 1-10 to utilize throughout the year.)
- At each station, ask students to use sticky notes to share anything they notice, any information they gathered, and/or any questions they may have. (This can be modified as well for the students to close read a longer text and at each teacher may have a set of questions there that students can answer.)Each group should post their ideas/answers on a sticky note near the item with their group or student name on it for other groups to see.
- The teacher can instead have a set of questions for the text/image/source at each station. Some sample questions can be found here.
- After students have viewed the primary source in a rotation, ask them to move clockwise to the next document/resource/question. This process will continue until all stations have been seen by every group. I suggest utilizing a timer.
- At the end, ask students to come together and discuss what they noted and what questions they still have, or share answers to the question(s) posted, or discuss conclusions/understanding the students were able to make. (The teacher may do a mixture of these pending on the topic/unit.)
How Can This Be Used in Other Content Areas?
The great thing about this strategy is that it can be used for any content.
For STEM teachers, this activity can me modified for a summative assessment or formative assessment. For example, one could provide students with a problem from each unit/module covered and have them work through it. Also, you could do this virtually by having students watch experiments related to the content and answer questions on an online document utilizing multiple computers or other electronic devices. Teachers can use the Next Generation Science Standards to apply to lessons where they construct and revise an explanation of a topic, to use mathematical representations, and/or to analyze data.
Here’s another example for studying anatomy and physiology and/or medical ethics, a course I teach for Duke TIP eStudies. In this scenario, you might give students texts that show multiple perspectives on how to treat a patient at each station, and students could then analyze either how they would treat the patient based on medical science and research and/or what ethical paradigm they feel the researcher follows based on their medical philosophy or final decision.
If you’re a Humanities teacher, you can use this strategy as a summative assignment after reading a text for students to answer questions related to the text. This activity supports the NCTE/IRA Standards of read and analyze a wide range of texts and to interpret and evaluate those texts. It can also be used to provide historical context for a text by showing images or documents from that time to have the students analyze. Additionally, teachers may implement this strategy to have students look at various chunks of text related to a theme and have them explore thematic statements. Additionally, it is a way for students to provide peer feedback on essays to their peers sharing a glow and a grow on each paper utilizing a shorter time per station.
For more information and adaptations, check outtheteachertoolkits website.
On their feet, your students will think differently, and you will walk them through visuals to higher levels of critical thinking!