Focus walls have been getting a lot attention in education in recent years, and you’ve probably seen a few in your school building. But is it time to set up your own focus wall? We’ve got focus wall ideas and focus board examples to help you make the decision.
What Is a Focus Wall in a Classroom?
Sometimes referred to as a focus board, a focus wall in a classroom is a special area of your wall devoted to key learning targets. Think of it as a place to share with your students what they’re learning this week and help keep them focused (there’s that key word!) on the goals of the week. Building off the visible learning principle, focus walls ensure that the learning goal is explicit, and allow students and teachers to work together to attain success.
You could think of a focus wall sort of like you would a vision board — only you’re displaying visions for your students, and you’re keeping the scope narrow with content that’s particular to a short period of time and maybe even just one subject. You could also think of it as a bit of a cheat sheet for you to help keep you on track (hey, we know how much you have on your mind!).
What Goes on a Focus Wall?
What goes on your focus wall is going to be dependent on how you want to use this teacher tool, and also dependent on what and who you teach! We talked to some teachers to get some focus wall ideas from their classrooms that just might work in yours.
Focus on One Subject
You can use your focus wall or focus board to cover the full week — or you can hyperfocus with learning goals and objectives for just one subject. Teacher Amanda Burnett (@itsateacherlife on Instagram) shared this ELAR focus wall using the wit & wisdom curriculum, but you can take this in myriad directions!
Want a math focus wall? Try some of these resources to get you started:
Place Value Banner - Billions to Thousandths
A banner that displays extended place value.
Number Line to 100 - Including Multiples
Help your students as they learn their multiples with this 0-100 number line.
Place Value - Pennant Banner
A display banner that can be used to practice Place Value.
Use Plastic Pockets
Focus walls are meant to be changed up frequently, and that means developing a system that doesn’t take you hours and hours to update! Teacher Judd (@coffee_quotes_and_teaching on Instagram) used plastic pockets and found magnetic hooks to hang them for easy updates!
For an even quicker change, use your whiteboard. It may not be as pretty, but when you’ve got a million things on your plate, it’s absolutely OK to go for efficient over Instagram-worthy!
Add Your Anchor Charts
There are plenty of places to hang anchor charts in the classroom, but adding them to your focus board will give your students one place to refer to when they’ve got questions about the lessons they are learning. (Check out these awesome anchor charts we can’t get enough of!).
Focus on IEP Goals
Teacher Jamie (@teachingspedwithlove on Instagram) has a self-contained special education classroom, so broader focus walls just didn’t make sense for her classroom. That’s how she came up with this idea: To create focus pages for her students on her focus wall. Here’s how she describes what she created: “It contains their name, picture, the IEP goals they are working on for that subject, and the grade-level standard. It’s written so it shows their ownership in what they are working on! As well as allowing anyone who walks in to see what EACH child is doing and learning. I hope this helps any other self-contained struggling with this same concept!”
Share Success Criteria
Students need to know goals, but it’s also helpful for them to have visibility into what success means — it’s part of helping them develop that growth mindset.
Need more ideas? Check out our array of classroom displays! Do you have a focus wall in your classroom?