A few of the learning principles that help us revolutionize learning in our district are to nurture a growth mindset, empower students and value the learning process just as much as the outcome.
After last year’s Open House, several teachers came to realize the district’s traditional end-of-school-year Open House didn’t portray these principles as strongly as it could have.
This school year, we were asked to rethink the traditional Open House so our vision and learning principles were shared with the school community in a powerful way.

Name Change

For starters, every school in our district changed the name of this event from Open House to Celebration of Learning. Doesn’t that name just roll off the tongue and bring visions of happy teachers and students frolicking through the halls?
But seriously…so much better than the visions of hours spent hovering over children’s shoulders willing them to finish their writing piece so you can hang it on the wall before hoards of people wiz through your room like a tornado to disrupt all the perfectly-displayed final projects.

Date Change

We also changed the date from mid May to the first week of April. If you are going to showcase the learning process, it’s best to do so when things are in full swing, not when things are winding down at the end of the year.

Communicate With The Community

Our administration communicated with the parent community so they knew in advance things may look a little different at this year’s event. Rather than seeing perfect cookie-cutter displays of polished work in each classroom, they were more likely to see a few finished assignments mixed in with several projects in progress.

The Details

The specifics on how the Celebration of Learning looked in each classroom or grade level was left to the teachers. Here’s a peek at a few

Classroom celebration of learning display KWL chart for heroes unit
Rather than taking the KWL chart down and replacing it with a final project, keep it up so parents get a glimpse at the progress students are making in a unit of study. Displaying books used for student research gives students the opportunity to show their family the resources they use in their learning process.

If a few final projects are ready to hang, put them on display so your students can talk about what they’ve accomplished or what their next steps will be.

Interactive Bulletin Boards

Interactive bulletin board displaying student thinking and feedback from peers. Try incorporating an interactive bulletin board into one of your subject areas. On this board, students post their math explanations from Write To Explain Math Task Cards and Ready…Set…Think! Activities. Their peers use sticky notes to give compliments or suggestions for improvement.

Students can then take their work back to their desk, modify or improve as needed and post it for additional critiquing. Bam! Process oriented learning/growth mindset building made easy!

Parents love reading their child’s reasoning and what their peers think of their work.

Expert Nametags

Expert name tags on student desks.

Each child in your class can take ownership of a different routine, subject area or physical space in the classroom and share their expert knowledge.
These expert nametags are fun for the students to wear and display on their desk so everyone who visits during Celebration of Learning can ask students about the ins and outs of the classroom. Talk about student empowerment!

Why Fit In Wall

Set aside a wall that give students an opportunity to let their unique personality shine. Rather than hanging the same project for every student, have students flip through their portfolio and select their personal favorite to display.Why fit in wall with a variety of student work reflecting various personalities and interests.
To be honest, the days leading up to our Celebration of Learning threw me off. I was having serious withdrawals from that yearly open house adrenaline rush that pumps through your veins as you wonder if you will actually pull off all that prep in time.
Now that it’s all said and done, I am so happy with the outcome of our first shot at rethinking Open House.  Each child in your class can take ownership of a different routine, subject area or physical space in the classroom and share their expert knowledge.


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10 Responses

  1. Hi Laura,
    I found your blog thru Pinterest. I especially love your Expert Name Tags and Why Fit In Wall ideas. I will definitely use them this coming year. We do a Celebration of Family instead of a Thanksgiving Feast in November. I'm going to talk to others at our school about changing the name of Spring Open House to Celebration of Learning. Such a more meaningful name. Thank you for sharing some great ideas!

    First Grade Schoolhouse

    1. Mona, I am so excited to hear you are bringing this idea to your staff. I will definitely have to let my principal and the teachers on our Celebration of Learning team have inspired potential changes in other districts as well! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  2. Hi,
    I really love the expert nametags! I would like to try using that in my own classroom. However, I cannot seem to locate the item in TpT. Please provide me with the direct link for purchase 🙂

I’m Laura Santos

I’ve been an elementary teacher for ten years, and love sharing tips and resources that make differentiated learning more manageable for you. Thank you for visiting.

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