A focus wall is an interchangeable, interactive classroom tool. We’ve got the scoop on how to make the perfect one for your classroom.
What Is the Purpose of a Classroom Focus Wall?
As the name suggests, a classroom focus wall is a display wall or bulletin board where you want to draw your students’ focus.
It is a visually interesting area where you place key information.
It should be a focal point of the room.
A classroom focus wall must be readily visible for both the students and the teacher, as both will refer to it frequently.
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Where to Put a Focus Wall
You want the focus wall to be where everyone can see it.
If you have a standard room configuration where the desks face the front, the logical place is to put the classroom focus wall in the front.
Since you, as the teacher, will refer to it often, you typically place it near or behind your teacher’s desk.
If you have an alternative room setup, place the focus wall where it is easily visible to students. (They should not have to crane their necks to see it.)
You can also mount your focus wall on a rolling whiteboard.
That way, you can position it where you need it.
Choosing a Purpose for the Focus Wall
A classroom focus wall needs a purpose. You have several options to choose from:
Learning Objectives for the Week
This is the most common purpose for a focus wall.
What are your learning targets for the week? What is your content focus?
You can make your focus wall subject-specific (language arts is the most common) or briefly cover all the subjects.
Classroom Rules and Calendar
A focus wall can contain the nuts and bolts information your students need to know.
You can place your calendar on a focus wall.
This works particularly well if your calendar is interactive (the students change out items on the calendar).
It is also a perfect place to keep your classroom rules so you can refer to them when necessary.
Student Jobs or Learning Center Objectives
Do your students rotate jobs each day or week? You can keep that information on your focus wall.
Do your learning centers have a rotating focus or instructions?
You can highlight that information on your focus wall as well.
A classroom focus wall is the perfect place to hang anchor charts.
These charts can give students a much-needed reminder of how to accomplish a larger task (like writing a paragraph).
What to Put on a Focus Wall
While you have a lot of flexibility when it comes to the content of your focus wall, here are some often included items:
- vocabulary words
- spelling words
- sight words
- math facts
- math vocabulary
- math tools (like a number line or place value chart)
- questions of the week
- inspiring quotations
- target skills
- grammar posters
- science posters
- anchor charts
- IEP goals
Consider including interactive elements such as question prompts, response cards, or even games or puzzles to promote student engagement.
You can even add a student success section highlighting a student’s weekly achievements.
Arranging Items on the Focus Wall
Your focus wall needs to hit the Goldilocks zone.
You want it to contain beneficial information, but you don’t want to overcrowd it.
It should not overwhelm the students or be chock-full of text.
It also needs to be visible from a distance.
When arranging items on a focus wall, consider spacing, symmetry, and color.
Space your items slightly apart from one another. Try not to overlap them.
Arrange your items in an orderly way (even symmetrically) so students can easily track the information displayed.
Choose bright colors to draw your students’ attention.
How to Keep the Focus Wall Fresh
If you put learning objectives on your focus wall, you must change out the items frequently.
Consider using plastic pockets where you can quickly replace the contents.
When you make updating a focus wall easy, you can get your students involved.
They will love helping you replace the items each day or week.
It’s a great tactic to promote student engagement.
Creating a Classroom Focus Wall
A classroom focus wall contains key information that rotates to suit the needs of the students and teacher.
It can be a place for learning objectives, anchor charts, or instructions. Moreover, it can be interactive and fun!
Now that you know how simple it is to construct a focus wall (and how useful it is), you may want to make more than one!