Out of Bulletin Board Ideas? Build a Domain Wall!

bulletin-boardWe all create bulletin boards for our classrooms and hallways, and we are all aware that they serve a variety of purposes, from highlighting student work, as an end of unit/module showcase, to that one board you create every year that never changes. You intend to mix it up, and yet, somehow it never happens. It gets to the point neither you, nor your students, even see that board anymore, and it ends up taking up valuable classroom wall space that could be used in a much more meaningful way.

It’s time to change up this practice by replacing the bulletin board with a Domain Wall.

You may be thinking, “But I love my Autumnal Poetry board, so why should I scrap my tried and true bulletin boards of years past?”

Many times the bulletin board is created as a “must do” from your building leader, at the very least, but it can also be a fun and clever way to show off student work. Aside from that, however, it probably doesn’t have much of an impact on your student’s’ day-to-day lives.

But what if you were to change how you and your students use your wall space? What if, instead of a “board that gets ignored”, you and your students could create a wall that tells the journey of the units and modules as they unfold? What if you had a dedicated space in your classroom where you could highlight the learning happening in each module- students’ progress towards mastery of the performance task- as you teach and learn?

This, colleagues, is a Domain Wall.

So just what is a Domain Wall? It’s:

  • A living “document” in your classroom.
  • It tracks students’ learning by showcasing various activities (in the form of student work) that move students towards mastery of the performance task, the standards, and a deeper understanding of the essential questions tied to each module.
  • It’s a guidepost for you, your students, and any classroom visitors, of progress through the module.

The goal of a Domain Wall is to help students connect the classroom activities to the essential questions and performance task.

It helps you and your students track the life of the module, as well as their progress over the course of the module, as students are learning and growing. For example, as your students progress through key activities within the module, you can select several student exemplars that clearly demonstrate student learning in your classroom, and update your Domain Wall to reflect that growth.

You might be wondering what to include in your Domain Wall. While there are no hard and fast rules, there are a few things that every Domain Wall should include:

  • Module title
  • Module essential question(s)
  • Student friendly version of the performance task prompt
  • Visuals of and from the central texts
  • Space for student work exemplars tied to key activities in the module

domain wall example.001Personalize your wall by including a section for “frequently asked questions”, photos of students as they engage in the module activities, vocabulary from the module and reminders or helpful hints. Keep in mind that the goal for the Domain Wall is to tell the story of the learning of the module at any given point in the lessons.

Lastly, the Domain Wall doesn’t have to replace all your bulletin boards, so you can keep that Autumnal Poetry board in addition to your new Domain Wall!

Have fun with it, make it your own and of course, share pictures of your wall with us or add your thoughts in the comments below.

Kelly is currently an instructional coach at Morton School of Excellence as well as the 3rd-8th grade ELA coach for the curriculum and development team. She has served in a variety of capacities from classroom teacher, to curriculum developer to leadership coach in her 20+years in the education sector.


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