I visited the Ron Clark Academy in October and left with so many ideas that I wanted to bring back to my classroom. Over the past few months we have made several of those changes to our classroom. I had a wonderful parent build a classroom stage for the front of our class that my students and I use all the time. Students now stand up when they are speaking to the class and applaud and cheer on their classmates when they say something very thoughtful, or encourage them (“You can do it, (student name)!”) when they are thinking about a response. All of these things are quickly noticed whenever anyone steps foot in our classroom, but one of our favorite parts is our student photo wall.
I have always loved displaying student pictures around the classroom. I have a collection of colorful frames that I’ve picked up throughout the years and I am always taking pictures of my students so I have plenty to choose from when printing and adding pictures to frames. Our student photo wall is extra special though. Each student chose a word that is important to them, along with a quote and a mission. I took a picture of each student outside on our school grounds and then combined their picture with their word, quote, and mission to create an incredible display of the students and leaders in our class. I’ve included all the instructions for you, along with tips, templates, and affiliate links for your convenience!
Introducing the Student Photo Wall:
We started the task of choosing a word, quote, and mission with a simple word. I had students choose a word that they felt represented who they are, or what is important to them. I showed them some examples, but most of them already had a word in mind that they wanted to use. If they weren’t sure of a word, some of them decided on a quote first, then went back and decided on a word.
Next we talked about choosing a quote. My students are pretty familiar with inspirational quotes because they find and respond to them almost daily (more about our Quote Quick Writes coming soon)! As a result, many of them already had a favorite quotation, and most of the time the quotation tied in with the word they chose. Some students even went back and changed their word after finding the perfect quote!
The next step was for students to choose their mission. Once again, this usually tied in to their word and quote. We discussed some examples of good missions, and then they created their own.
- Camera for student photos (I used my Canon Ti3 to get blurry backgrounds (similar model here), but any camera will do)
- Picture frames (IKEA)
- Black cardstock paper
- Hot glue gun
- Thumb tacks
- Silhouette machine or letter cutouts
The first thing I did to prepare for our student photo wall was take individual photos of each student. I took the pictures outside because the backdrop of our school grounds is beautiful and the lighting was much better than inside our classroom.
Next I flagged the photos I liked (I had several pictures of each student to choose from) and edited the pictures in Adobe Lightroom. Most of the photos already looked nice and just needed minimal adjustments made.
After the pictures were all selected and edited, I inserted them into PowerPoint and added on the individual text for each student. I created a PowerPoint layout that already had the fonts and text size set up, so entering the pictures and changing the text was a breeze. I had two different layouts, one for landscape photos and one for portrait photos. I tried to do about half of the student photos landscape and half portrait. Then I saved the PowerPoint slides as .jpegs and uploaded them to be printed at 8×10 size.
The black frames I purchased from IKEA were a little larger than 8×10, so I matted the photos on black cardstock before putting them in the frames.
Tip for the Frames:
I have a couple tips to share with you that made putting 32 pictures in frames a fast(er) process.
Tip 1: Use a card to help lift up the tabs on the back of the frames so that your finger nails don’t get ruined! I have spent years trying to pry those things up with my fingers only to have sore fingers and broken fingernails by the time I finally had a picture in the frame! While I was adding pictures this time I came up with an easy solution! I used an old grocery store card to help lift up the tabs. Not only was it easier on my fingers, but it was much faster too!
Tip 2: In order to get the picture frames to stay up on my wall, I hot glued small tacks to the back of the frame! I glued one thumb tack in each corner of the frame. I put hot glue under and on top of the thumb tack to make it more secured to the picture frame and they have held up beautifully!
If you’re interested in using the PowerPoint templates to create a student photo wall for your classroom, you can get them here! Read the note to teacher first (it has important information about fonts), then download them to create a student photo wall for your classroom!