Display boards describes a teaching strategy that was used to enhance Year 9–10 student understandings about Outcome Development, Evaluation and Technological Products.
While teachers using display boards to support student learning is not new, Steve takes their use a step further. He uses display boards to mount objects normally left loose around the workshop, grouping them into themes. The objects are then able to be viewed and handled by the students.
Steve first used the display boards with his Year 9 students, who were doing a phone-holder project he found on Technology Online. "I turned it into a three-week project focused on developing student understanding about how material properties determine what you can do with them when making technological products. Students were using laminated perspex, so I glued some pieces together, bent some of it, polished the edges of others and mounted them on a display board as examples of what could be done when working with perspex. The examples were visual for the boys, and they would come in and ask 'How did you do that, Sir?' or 'Will I be able to use those colours?' It proved to be a really good teaching tool for me.”
Steve says that in the past he had often constructed a few things for the boys to look at and left them around the workshop, and that this display board approach was just a simple next step. “Now these things are always in one place in the classroom, and the students can just come and look at them and refer to them when they feel like it. The boards have saved me a lot of time – they might be displaying the welding of joints or a group of materials for a project. Using visual aids such as this seems to work really well for boys.”
Steve found the boards particularly useful when he started to move up to Curriculum Level 4 for the Technological Products strand. “It fitted really well. I was getting students to play with different materials, I put some sample outcomes on display boards and asked the students to figure out how the materials had been manipulated."
Steve uses the boards in his Year 9–10 programme and is hoping to eventually have a series of boards that he can put up at relevant times throughout the year. “They’re about a metre square and display a selection of the materials and processes that we could use in a particular project and other objects that are linked to what the students might need to do or think about in their development work. Being the size they are is a distinct advantage because we can switch them between the two rooms we use.”
Steve also brings unknown objects (artefacts) into school to spark students’ imagination. He mounts them on display boards and uses these for group and class discussions. “It might be something I’ve found in my garage, or something from an engineering company visit. I’ll bring them in and I’ll talk to the boys about them. They’re starting to get a really good understanding of how to read artefacts. I try to put something new up there at least once a month for the boys to look at, just to get their attention. I’ll make it reasonably hard – and once they’ve worked one out, we’ll stick another one up on display. This strategy is proving to be really useful."
"I’ve noticed that since using the display boards students, especially the Year 9 students, are asking a lot of questions about things, so I can pick up on that and include it on the boards. We could probably add photographs of tools and all sorts of things – the possibilities are unlimited really."