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
- Cricut 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!
Molly, I adore this! I have to find a way to do something like this for my first graders 🙂
I love this too and teach first grade! Wondering how I can modify it!
If I may suggest, mabye together as a classroom you can start the year off by making a class mission statement together. Meaning the kids write up the mission. If the mission is written from them, it has more meaning, than if it is written by a teacher. (obviously this mission statement would be guidded by you)
When its all said and done, maybe you can do the photo by asking each student how they will do there part to live the mission statement during the year.
So they can have a word and then a small Mission statement of there own….
just a thought!!
I love this idea! I will incorporate this in my classroom this year!!! Thanks for sharing!
Love this idea! Can’t wait to try it out with my Kindergarteners.
This is such a beautiful idea! I’m going to use this with my class who are the leaders of the school next year.
I’m just trying to download the free PowerPoint templates but it doesn’t seem to be working (“Page cannot be displayed” error). I was wondering if these files were still available and if you could tell me the font you used in the files?
I thought the same. I’m excited to try it:)
I was also thinking about modifying for my first graders. I’m thinking I might have mine pick a word to show how they can be a good friend to others and write a sentence using that word. it. For example: SHARE- I can be friendly by sharing my ball with them at recess.
I love this adaption for grade 1.
Thanks so much, Jen! Do you kiddos have older buddies? Maybe this would be something they could help out with!
Wow Molly! This is such an awesome idea, and just adds to the culture of positivity in your classroom! I love it!
Thanks so much, Cori!!!
Molly!!!! I just LOVE this!! I already talked to coworkers to see if they wanted to do this too next year!! 🙂 Thanks so much for all the great tips and templates!! Miss you!! 🙂
I really love this idea. Just wondering how this would work for a high school classroom. I teach high school math and would love to do something like this
I am planning on doing this with my high school advisory
Where did you have the students go to safely search for quotes to use for this photo wall?
I love this Idea so so so much. I will be teaching 6-12 grade literature and am inspired to have a whole wall dedicated to my students about their purpose in my classroom. Its a bit tricky with large class sizes and multiple classes but one whole wall should do just fine and a worthwhile sacrifice of space.
I’m definitely going to be prepping this over the summer! The only wall I have to hang pictures is a cinder block wall. I know I can get frames on that wall using Command picture tabs, but buying frames plus Command picture tabs for 25+ students may just be too much money. Do you have any suggestions? What about just printing on high-quality card stock and hanging without frames? I can easily hang card stock with sticky, which is cheap. Looking forward to hearing your ideas!
Aliza, you could make a frame out of cardstock, and then hang that. It should not add too much weight, but will look finished.
I was kinda thinking the same thing…. I think I might “frame” the photos on black cardstock to bring the look together…?
That would look great!
I made “frames” last year for my students using sparkly holographic gold poster board from Dollar General. They ended up looking great!
I have cinder block walls in my classroom too – you can use hot glue to stick frames and such to the walls! They stay like a charm and peel right off when you need to 🙂
I am moving to 5th grade this year and am so so so excited to do this with them in September. Thank you for sharing!
I love this!! I teach junior high and have 200+ students a year, but I’d love to find something similar!
I teacher Speech and Debate, and I want to incorporate more inspiration quotes in the class decor next year.
I was wondering if you’d have a picture of the stage in your classroom. I have a podium I use, but a stage would rule.
I just got back from Ron Clark Academy yesterday. I love your wall of pictures. RCA is wonderful and we (the team of teachers that went) are brInstorming things we want to implement next year. Pictures was one “must do” to give the kids ownership and pride in their school. Also, we are going to start with respect of teachers, peers, building, and self. Next year we will add another component . I would love to know more about how and what y’all implemented and how it worked.
I am teaching a Montessori 4th and 5th class next year and love the idea of a class mission statement and photo wall. Thank you so much!
Thanks for posting this idea. I found it on Pinterest. I teach high school and have far more students than this, so wouldn’t do it quite this way, but I love the idea. I will be teaching some classes online this fall and I think this would be a great way for students to get to know one another. I have always had them post to a discussion board to get to know one another better, even in a regular classroom, but the idea of making a page with these photos and quotes, etc. is a great idea that I am going to figure out how to incorporate to my online classes. Thanks!
This is great! I will be doing this with my third graders next year!
What an awesome idea! I teach RTI in grades 6-8 and they already have terrible self-esteem issues. Hopefully by including this in my classroom they will realize they are not “stupid” (as they’ve been told and, also to not feel so alone with their difficulties. Thanks so much for sharing.
Where did you find the quotes?
I found several by creatively googling. If you’ll email me, I’ll send you what I found. email@example.com
Hi! i was trying to find the quotes as well but could t find them! what did you google?
Oh goodness, I’m not sure I remember exactly. I probably googled “inspirational quotes for kids”. But if you email me, I’ll forward what I found.
Thank you so much for sharing this idea! I am not so brave as to try the frames- that was a lot of work, my friend! But I can sure laminate these photos to cardstock and hang them up! I love the power of words written by children. Can’t wait to try this in the fall!
Yes, you definitely don’t have to use frames to pull this off! They would look great backed in cardstock!
I adore this idea, but how much ink do you use? Also, how much were the frames?
Hi Lisa! I got the pictures printed at a store so I didn’t have to use any ink on my personal computer! I forget the cost of the frames, but I think they were $1-$2 each. I plan on reusing them every year!
Thank you so much for the idea and the info.
Hi! I would love to do this but with 5 x 7. Could you pretty please make 2 templates for that size???
You can just save the ppt as a picture file and when you send the order through walgreens or prefered picture place – you can select a size. i do this all the time and they turn out great!
Can you use these templates for 5 x 7’s?
Just get them printed as 5x7s. Upload the jpeg to Costco (or other service) and pick 5×7 instead of 8×10 and center the photo the way you want to crop it. 🙂
I just went in and resized all of mine. It’s time consuming but not too difficult.
Thank you so much for sharing this great idea! I am heading back into the classroom and love the personal insight and motivation it gives throughout the year!! ~ Christi
I teach AVID and I am making these for my Seniors with their number one college choice. I am hoping it will keep them motivated for the school year. I just loved the finished look of this.
Hi Molly! I am in love with this idea and saw the pictures at RCA these are based off of and fell in love with them. I had a few questions about how you did this with your class. Did you do this all in one day, the word, quote, and mission? What kids of examples did you give the kids for missions? I am wanting to start the year off with this. Thanks in advance, I cannot wait to do this, I picked my frames up today from IKEA! 🙂
Thank you so much for this awesome idea. I am a 4th grade teacher. This will be the outcome of our two week goals lesson at the beginning of the year. . Thank you.
I love this idea and will be using it. I’m also interested in the Quote Quick Writes you mentioned, and would like to know where and how your students find these quotes. It’s difficult to find such good, kid appropriate quotes.
Did you get these printed as pictures or just as a colored print? If a colored print, what type of paper did you get it printed on? I’m trying to figure about how much this will cost for the two classes that I have.
I am teaching a sixth grade elective entitled Civics in Action. We brainstorm what good citizens say, do, know, and care about with a “stay and stray” activity. I am going to use an American flag as a backdrop and have students select a verb (something good citizens DO) as their “word.” They can write their mission statements based upon that activity and then make a Google Slide (my students are old enough to make their own). I will print all of them for a bulletin board, and I will also play it as a slideshow at Back-to-School Night.
Thanks for the inspiration, Molly!
This is a great idea and I am looking forward to trying it with my 4th graders this year. I am really hoping to use this as their “hopes and dreams” (responsive classroom). Any tips on how I can introduce them to inspirational quotes or have some available for students? Maybe even safe websites?
Thank you…these look fantastic!
This is awesome! I will join you in this task! I work at an IB school, therefore this activity would be great for the Learner Profile or even our Classroom Agreements.
Such a great idea plan on using this in my K-5 library each month. Not sure how exactly yet. Where did you find your word choices and quotes, is there something pre made you would be willing to share. Look like a fun idea to implement
I collected some for my third graders. Shoot me an email if you would like a copy. 🙂
I love this idea! I would also love to get a closer look at some of the mission statements, to get some ideas. Thanks!
Hi there! What a fantastic idea! I would also love to make a wall with 5×7’s as I am a HS school teacher so would have 3 classes to put up. Can this image be printed as a 5×7? Or do you have a file that would work?
Any suggestions for how to modify this to an intermediate classroom that doesn’t have the resources to research a group of quotes?
I am in the process of putting this together, but have run into a problem sizing the photos with my backgrounds. I noticed you have close up photos, which I love, but it doesn’t include the greenery up close. Did you layer photos or was your backdrop conducive to closeup photos? Thanks again for sharing such a great idea! My PBIS team loves it.
Would you sent the quotes you used? Love the Idea!
I have collected a set of them. Shoot me an email if you’d like a copy. 🙂
Youre a GENIUS!
Thanks so much for this! I’m a new teacher about to start teaching in my own classroom mid year! I’m going to use this as part of my getting to know the students and hopefully help to build a classroom community 🙂
I really enjoy this idea to display students in the classroom. It makes the classroom personal and it helps the students know that the teacher cares about them. I feel like you could also do this with a secondary classroom. Now it may have to be a huge board to fit them all but it even secondary students need to feel appreciated by their teachers.
This is awesome! Such a great alternative for me. I’ve always wanted to do a Family Wall but I never have enough participation. I’m teaching 4th grade next year and I think this will help with my goals, leaders in me, and growth mindset theme!
What a great idea! I’d love to try this, but I teach high school, so I’ll have roughly 110-120 students. Over the course of last year, I had schedule changes, students who went to alternative school, and students who moved, so my student list was fairly fluid. Would anyone have a suggestion or two on how this could be modified for high school? Thank you.
Hi Karen! What if you had each class come up with a word, quote, and goal? Then you could take a picture of the whole class? You could even get it printed a little larger or put it in a bigger frame! That way even if students moved, it would still reflect each class’s ideas as a whole!
This is such a great idea!! Did you do this at the beginning of the year and leave them up year round, or was it a mid-year/end of the year activity? thanks!!
Hi Melissa! I did it a few weeks into the school year, and then we left them up all year!
I love this idea.! This is my 9th year teaching 5th grade and I’ve been looking for ways to change things up and give the students more ownership in their growth and education. This is an excellent way to start the year! What grade do you teach and how did you introduce the idea to them?
This is such an amazing idea! I will be using this in the beginning of the school year with my class. Instead of using the picture frames, I am going to buy, “Pack of 20 MIXED COLORS 11×14 Picture Mats Matting with White Core Bevel Cut for 8×10 Pictures” from Amazon and tape the photos on. This is going to be an awesome jump start to the school year!
I love this bulletin board. I did my own version using your tips as a guide. Thanks for the awesome post!
I would love to show you, but it won’t let me put a picture in the comments.
We are trying to use this idea as a school wide means to highlight all of our students, but we can’t get the template to download. I love your room and all of your ideas!
Great idea. Thanks for sharing. My students each have their own iPad so I think I will get them to take a photo of themselves with an outdoors background, then insert their word and quote onto the photo.
they can airdrop me their finished doc and I can print it out. Am buying a class set of black picture mounts to fit A4. 30 frames for roughly $18.
Than k you so much. I can’t wait to prep this right now for my students next year.
Thank you for sharing this idea! I love it! I usually have them describe a word that I’ve taken a picture of them holding, but I like the mission statement added and a quote.
Saw this on Pinterest and had to go to your site. I am in Australia, so we are coming tho the end of our school year. I teach at a High School, so I thought I might get the staff involved as well and put these around the school. Such a great idea!!! I can’t afford the frames as I live in a small town and we just dont have them, so as an alternative for a similar idea, I bought cheap canvases turned them over and painted each “frame” a different colour. They are really light, so I just put small mapping pins in them to hold them up. I am so looking forward to doing this. Thank you!!!!
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for sharing the template! You made my life SOOO much easier. I took this idea to my principal and he wants it in the whole school. He loved it and now I’m in charge of getting it all together. 😀
I used this idea and put together a picture display of all the teachers/staff at my campus. Everyone loves to stop by and look at everyone’s word, quote and statement that the teachers chose. Thank you for sharing!
I am trying to download the powerpoint templates and it keeps asking me to request access. I requested access a few days ago.
Google Drive recently changed their settings, so I think that’s why you weren’t able to access the files! I just tried updating the files so you should be able to access them now! Let me know if it works! Thank you!!!
Love these templates. Unfortunately, Drive is still not allowing access when you click on the link you provided. I requested access to the file hoping to use them soon. Thank you!
I just requested access to the power point.
I am running into this same issue. Is there a different way to download the template? 🙂
Thank you for this great idea! I’m not able to access the PowerPoint Template. I requested access for the file. Would you be able to share it with me? Thanks!
Hi there – I just saw your latest comment from Feb 2022 about accessing the file. I just put in a request for the file as well, since Google asked me to. Would love to be able to access this and use it with my second graders, it’s such a fantastic idea! (About 12 years back, we had one for our teaching staff and it was really great… not sure why it never dawned on me to do it with my own kiddos! haha) Thank you!