Graffiti Boards

Graffiti Wall, Read, Think, Write, Draw

UDL 3.1

Graffiti Boards are a cooperative engagement strategy in which students write or visually represent ideas about a topic on a shared space in the classroom (e.g., a section of a wall covered with large chart paper or a whole whiteboard). Graffiti Boards can help students brainstorm and present prior knowledge, demonstrate logical reasoning (e.g., problem-solving strategies), or exhibit comprehension of a topic. A teacher first explains that students will use this board to “hear” each other’s ideas, and emphasizes that each student must contribute at least one question or comment to the board. Next, the teacher names the focus topic or question and students begin to write down ideas and colorful images to create a vibrant display of thoughts and perceptions about the topic.

Implementation Tips

Setting Expectations
List expectations on a chart to help introduce and manage the activity. Outline the allotment of time for graffiti expression (e.g., 5-10 minutes) and some ground rules to present to students (e.g., every student must contribute to the board, no inappropriate comments or drawings are to be added).
Prepare for Graffiti Boards by hanging a [[ | large piece of paper ]] (e.g., poster board, butcher paper) on a wall or designate the [[ | class whiteboard ]] for students to use. Pre-plan how students will interact with specific content while engaging in the strategy (e.g., brainstorming, analysis, reaction and reflections, review).
Introducing Graffiti Boards
Introduce the strategy by displaying the expectations chart. Present the topic that students will focus on and model how to add writing and drawn images onto the board. Invite some student volunteers to contribute. After, have the class review the board to analyze the information represented.
Fostering Creativity
Foster creativity by providing the class with a bountiful supply of colorful markers to display writing and images onto each Graffiti Board. Ensure that the space provided to write is large enough so that engagement is not disrupted by students waiting in line to add ideas.
Modify how Graffiti Boards are implemented by altering if students should be silent while adding ideas or if they are allowed to engage in conversations since some students might benefit from sharing ideas and asking questions while interacting with the board, while at other times this might lead to distraction.
Small Group Work
Use Graffiti Boards with small groups (e.g., 3-4 students) by covering different tables with poster paper. Each group can be presented with the same topic or different topics to deliberate. Students work together to grow ideas and make connections. After, the class unites to share and compare/contrast group ideas.
Building Routines
Use Graffiti Boards at least once a week to offer students the opportunity to reflect on their own thoughts as well as the thoughts of others. In addition to content related topics, incorporate Graffiti Boards into other daily activities, such as a morning routine activity.
Digital Graffiti Boards
Allow students in small groups to create digital Graffiti Boards instead of using traditional paper or the whiteboard (e.g., if computers are accessible, collaborate an activity with the Media Literacy teacher). Students can add images, video, or audio in addition to words related to the topic. After, provide time for groups to share digital creations.


Comprehension Activity
While watching a video about Rosa Parks and the Civil Rights Movement, students in small groups create Graffiti Boards to reflect and debrief her powerful story. Before beginning, the teacher reminds the class about Graffiti Board ground rules (e.g., every student must contribute at least one idea, no inappropriate comments or images allowed). While watching the video, students start adding ideas and building onto other participants' contributions by drawing images and writing comments. After watching the video, each group discusses what else they can add to the board. After 7-8 minutes the teacher calls the class back together to kick-off a conversation about what students learned using Graffiti Boards.
Exit Ticket Reflection
Before transitioning students into independent reading, a teacher uses a whole-class Graffiti Board to help students reflect on a nonfiction reading lesson. On a large piece of poster board, the teacher writes the title of the book (e.g., Heat, Light and Sound) and asks students, “What was the most interesting thing you learned from today’s lesson?” Some students [[ | add ideas ]] right away while other students use the ideas listed to help build connections to information they learned during the lesson (e.g., a specific fact from the text, an idea about nonfiction text structure, a skill readers use).
Community Building
To build a positive environment in a classroom, a class creates a “Gratitude Graffiti Board.” Throughout the day, students add ideas and insights to the board through writing and drawings that feature acts of classroom kindness and positive social interactions (e.g., “I am thankful that Janelle invited me to play Chess with her during free play.” / a drawing of students sharing a book). At the end of each week, the class reflects on the entries to highlight positive classroom experiences and to demonstrate how students appreciate one another.

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