Graffiti for remote learning

As we move into a period of distance learning across the world, I am sharing both digital and pen and paper ideas.   Today, I share one of the easiest activities to take out of the classroom and send home.  You can use it in math, social studies, and science (although I haven't tried it).  I call it graffiti.  I used to call it the doodle because it was inspired by the Google doodles but some teachers use doodle notes which can make it confusing.  In English they do a similar activity which they call the one-pager, often for a novel students have read.    Basically, graffiti is the summary and analysis of a topic.  It's great for assessment or review or ongoing analysis.


I like to use graffiti because it is:

  1. Highly engaging (One teacher told me "I loved this activity! My students were so focused and creative!") 
  2. Uses multiple levels of intelligence: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and quite possibly evaluation if you took it to that level
  3. Can be used for any grade level and any subject
  4. Mixes creativity with logical thought
  5. Is easy to explain
  6. Can be customized for individual classrooms.
How to create a graffiti activity in your class:
  • Choose a topic of unit size:  a math topic might be systems of equations or probability.  A social sciences topic might be the American Revolution, the Harlem Renaissance or the Incas.  The topic should be broad enough to make connections between individual subtopics.  Systems of equations, for example, would include multiple ways to solve systems of equations as well as word problems.  The American Revolution would include facts related to causes, events, and outcomes but also analysis of the impact for the country as well as subgroups such as women and African Americans.
  • Set the parameters: write clear directions as to what you expect students to include in their one page graffiti.  The graffiti should be visually appealing while share specific information (or problem types) related to the topic.  You can leave this fairly broad or list specific questions that should be able to  be answered by the one pager.  
  • Provide a template (optional): You can start with a template.  It can be as simple as the name of the topic or a related visual image for students to fill in with information, ideas and their own drawings.
  • Example: an example is helpful.  It doesn't necessarily have to be on the topic students are making their graffiti for, but it should demonstrate your expectations for visual and written material.   I encourage but do not require students to use color in their graffiti.  
  • Celebrate the work:  Post students' graffiti on your graffiti wall.  Students love to see what other students came up with and can learn from each other's graffiti.  If you are sending this home for distance learning, simply have students send you a photo of their work.  If you have the capacity, make the graffiti into a slideshow and share with your class.  It's one more way you can stay connected.
You can absolutely create your own graffiti.  You can download ready-to-use FREE graffiti for Slope, Harlem Renaissance, and World War II or purchase editable graffiti templates and directions for a variety of math and social science topics here.

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