The Art of Creative Reading Manipulation

Photo by Liana De Laurent on

As a reading advocate it is my personal mission to provide opportunities for people within my circle of influence to read and write.

Today I was reminded of a daily practice that I am resurrecting today: graffiti boards.

What is A Graffiti Board?

I don’t even remember where I heard about graffiti boards but I started posing a question on a large piece of butcher paper outside my room so students could stop and write their responses

At a former school I hung the board outside my room which was midway down the length of the hallway. The concept took on a life of its own and would cause a traffic jam in the mornings and at dismissal.

Students also randomly asked to go to the bathroom so they could come and write their responses in peace in the middle of the school day.

As the instigator I pose a question, a vocabulary word or something crazy to get people thinking outside my office. Sometimes it is a serious topic and other times it is just fun.

Past questions have been, “What smell do you love?” and “What do you dip your chicken nuggets into?”

I have posted Words of the Day and challenge students to write a sentence with them and use them throughout the day. Words have been enigma and candor.

Other questions I love:

Have you ever made a bucket list or life list? What is one thing on it?

What is the favorite space in your house?

What is the perfect meal for you?

Who is your favorite character in what you are reading?

What is your favorite food?

What are you looking forward to over spring break?

What color should Mrs. Breitweiser dye her hair?

Rainbow and pink I believe were the most popular answers to the last one.

Why Do This?

The main reason is to get students to read and interact with text in a fun way. I also like to disrupt the status quo and keep people guessing if I am honest.

It also makes the kids laugh and it is just FUN.

Laughter helps you lose weight, live longer, and lower your blood pressure. Bring on the guffaws!

Other Ways to Inject Some Fun

Jokes and poems on the backs of bathroom doors, over pencil sharpeners, in the hallways, in the teachers’ lounge, in the teachers’ bathroom, and whatever random place is a fun way to provide an opportunity for people to read and write. You cannot help but smile when you pass a bathroom and hear kids in the stalls read and ask knock-knock jokes to each other.

A Warning If You Want to Try This At Home…

Some teachers were quite salty about this idea. They were afraid students would write something inappropriate. To be fair, it did happen twice that I can recall but it wasn’t suspension worthy. There were no cuss words just something minorly insulting that a 5th grader would think is funny.

Other teachers didn’t like the disruption of the flow of traffic in the hallways even if it was for a good cause. Adults do not like change so you will have to gauge how much pushback you would get. The board can always be put in the classroom to avoid this issue.

Overall, the good outweighed the bad. Any opportunity for reading and writing is a good thing in my book! Today some new reading materials are going up!

You can read this post in its entirety here.

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