When educator Carmela “Melina” Cundari introduced PosterMyWall as a classroom teaching tool, she had no idea what she was unleashing. “Now I can’t stop them! They have already asked me if we can create more posters. And of course, we will!” Melina said.
Melina, a primary-school English teacher in Sicily, Italy, started using PosterMyWall five years ago and quickly fell in love with the site’s easy to use and eye-catching graphic design tools and templates.
Melina turned to PosterMyWall as a way to make her English classes, filled with students aged 5 to 10 years old, more exciting–as well as a way to create collages without the mess. By using online projects created using PosterMyWall, Melina was able to keep her students engaged and creative–even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Melina says it was really satisfying to watch as her students’ design skills took flight.
Like all educators, Melina faces a number of ongoing challenges–including how to maintain student engagement. Primary school students are hands-on learners, so doing more writing-based projects is not the answer. Melina also wants to help her students become more comfortable using technology.
Also, Melina’s school is part of a small town with a struggling economy. Because of her school’s very limited budget, buying pricey e-learning programs or fancy graphic design tools was out of the question.
Melina said that PosterMyWall was a perfect solution because graphic language is one of the means preferred by children to express their ideas. Not all students like to draw or have the patience to colour accurately, but they are all able to choose the images that best expresses their ideas.
“When children are invited to create a design, they put all their creativity into it, carefully choosing the most appropriate images, the most suitable colours, the most effective fonts. They can rehearse and collaborate, advising each other on the fonts, colours, images or background to use for their designs,” Melina said.
Melina’s classes usually use PosterMyWall to create posters or logos for their international projects, to share ideas or photos, or as a final output for a class project (mostly about environment or citizenship).
“Sometimes, in my daily teaching practice, it isn’t easy to find practical tasks that help the students improve their communication skills. Creating a poster with PosterMyWall has a positive effect on the learning process and provides students with an opportunity to learn by doing. Teaching with PosterMyWall is really effective,” Melina said.
This year, PosterMyWall became more important to the curriculum than ever. During COVID, the students in Melina’s school were prohibited from using the ICT lab because the room was too small. They were also prohibited from working in groups–which meant they couldn’t use tablets in pairs.
Melina’s solution with her fifth graders was to use PosterMyWall to create posters. “I provided a short lesson on how to use PosterMyWall. Then I sent them a tutorial and asked them to create a simple poster, just for fun, to explore the tool and practice it,” Melina said. The topic was “Pancake Day” and Melina said the results were amazing.
“They loved it, they did their best. All the posters were nice, and every child showed his design to mates using my computer and the e-board,” Melina said.
Are you ready to try PosterMyWall with your students? Here are 6 tips on how to implement PosterMyWall as a classroom teaching tool:
1. Demonstrate the tool
Melina introduces PosterMyWall to her classes with a demonstration. This makes it faster and easier for her students to become acclimated to the platform and tools–and eliminated any anxiety or discouragement. She connects her computer to the e-board and creates a simple design from scratch as her students watch. “I show them how to select a background; how to add photos, shapes, and text and how to change fonts, copy size, and colors,” Melina said.
2. Let the students experiment with PosterMyWall
Next, Melina invites the students to try PosterMyWall for themselves–usually working in pairs on a tablet. “I always try to foster collaboration, one of the most important skills in the 21st century,” Melina said. When the students have questions, they help each other–which reinforces that they can resolve their problems without always having to ask their teacher. Even more important, they learn by doing.
3. Try the assignment out before inviting the students
“I like to know in advance if it will be easy for children to satisfy my requests,” Melina said. To accomplish this, before sharing any assignment with her classes, she logs herself in as a student using the project name she has chosen. Then she creates one or two designs that fulfill the assignment. This ensures that whatever she has asked her students to do is easily accomplished.
4. Explain the assignment clearly–but don’t say too much
“When I assign a task, I try to be precise and clear, but not too prescriptive,” Melina said. Her goal is to let the students know what is expected without leading them in too specific of a direction. This encourages them to apply their natural creativity. Likewise, when a student turns in something she doesn’t like or that doesn’t fulfill the assignment, she asks for changes by making suggestions–but never by giving directions.
Usually, Melina assigns a topic rather than a title. “Since I teach English as a second language, I sometimes give them a quote or sentence and ask them to comment on it with images.”
5. Keep it simple
Melina recommends simple assignments that don’t ask for too many images or objects. She also tries to keep the amount of copy on the posters to a minimum. “Better a few clear things than a lot of confusing things,” she said.
6. Share the assignment through your normal assignment sharing mechanism
When Melina is teaching in person, she gives her assignments during a lesson. Then she uses Google Classroom to share links to any tutorials or videos the students need to see before completing the assignment.
By creating posters with PosterMyWall and by sharing and collaborating on class projects, Melina has achieved amazing engagement for her English-learner students. “PosterMyWall gives me the opportunity to motivate students by asking them to show what they can do with language,” she said. “It really is a highly effective learning tool.”