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Designing an Exhibit

This modelling the tools is incorporated into critical challenges at grade 8, however, it can be adapted for use at all grade levels.


Session Three

Identify most significant facts

  • After students have finished their library and Internet-based research on their topic, ask them to look at the full list of facts to select the most important ones to include in their displays. Recommend that they select three to five facts per topic, but the number of facts will vary depending on the number of categories researched and age of students. The prioritized list of facts is important because it will make up the core content of their exhibits.

Review criteria for effective exhibits

  • After students have identified the content of their exhibits, they can focus on design and layout. Explain that they will design a rough draft, or mock-up, of their exhibits. Review with students the elements that make effective displays by highlighting the qualities and techniques. You may want to refer to the posted list of qualities and techniques of effective displays. Broaden the discussion by encouraging students to brainstorm additional techniques that would enhance a display; e.g., live performances, audio messages, computer or interactive components.

Distribute technique checklists

  • Hand out a copy of Exhibit Checklist to each student or group. Ask students to use this handout to create a checklist of techniques they wish to include in their display. These techniques should be the ones that students judge most likely to achieve the qualities of an effective exhibit, such as:
    • interesting and engaging (holds your attention)—bold title prominently placed; vivid and colourful images
    • visually well-balanced—different groups of ideas clearly separated; a good balance between images, text and display
    • educational and informative—written in a personal not a lecture style; clear set of important ideas presented
    • understandable for intended audience—written in language appropriate for the age and level of audience; no spelling or grammar mistakes to hinder meaning.

Pose the critical task

  • After students have filled out their individual checklists of techniques they wish to incorporate in their exhibit, assign the critical task:

Design and sketch an exhibit based on your assigned topic.

Hand out a copy of Exhibit Mock-up to each student. Ask students to incorporate the qualities and techniques into actual mock-ups of their exhibits. Students should include all aspects of the design, including how they will layout the information categories. Explain that using a mock-up to design an effective exhibit helps students to develop pride in their work as the final product will provide evidence of thinking and effort. Decide if you will allocate time in class to work on the mock-ups or if you will assign it for homework.

Introduce peer review

  • Explain that students will use a constructive feedback form to review and evaluate each other’s work and to offer suggestions for improvement. The following activity will help students distinguish between productive and unproductive feedback.

Demonstrate productive and unproductive feedback

  • Ask an adult volunteer or a student with a strong sense of self-esteem to volunteer for this demonstration. Before the activity, explain to the volunteer that he or she will experience both productive and unproductive feedback as part of the activity. Ensure the volunteer is comfortable in that role. Direct the volunteer to leave the room while you explain the activity to the class. Explain to students that the volunteer will be blindfolded and given six to eight ping-pong balls (crunched up pieces of paper will also work). The volunteer will be asked to toss as many balls as possible into a basket placed about eight feet away. There will be four rounds to this activity:
    • First round: Ask the class to remain silent and to give no help or suggestions to the volunteer.
    • Second round: Ask the class to be very critical of the volunteer’s performance and to provide lots of exaggerated groans and jeers; e.g., "What a lousy shot!"; "You won’t make the basketball team!".
    • Third round: Ask the class to be positive but very vague when giving suggestions for improvement; e.g., "Good throw!"; "Nice try!"
    • Final round: Ask the class to be positive and to provide constructive and specific suggestions on how to improve the shots; e.g., "Good arch on that throw. Lean into your throw more the next time."

After each round, tabulate the number of ping-pong balls the volunteer tossed into the basket and, after the fourth round, compare the scores. This activity should demonstrate that providing no comments, negative comments and vague, positive comments is of little help in improving success. Point out that the most helpful feedback for improving results consists of positive, specific and constructive suggestions.


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Last updated: July 1, 2014 | (Revision History)
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