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Gallery Walk Teaching Strategy

Instructor: Sarah Garrett

Sarah has taught secondary English and holds a master's degree in Curriculum & Instruction

A 'gallery walk' is an excellent teaching strategy that promotes student engagement and learning. In this lesson, we will define a gallery walk, explore subject specific examples, and highlight positive student outcomes.

What Is a Gallery Walk?

A gallery walk is a student engagement activity where groups of students interact with different stations set up around the classroom. At each station there is a question written on a large sheet of butcher paper or poster board that students have to think critically about to answer. Students usually write their response on a sticky note or directly on the large sheet of paper and then continue to the next station. At the end of the walk, a student at each station reviews what is written on the poster board/butcher paper.

Organizing a Gallery Walk

In general, and depending on class size, a gallery walk can have five to ten stations. Group sizes are typically small, ideally between four to six students. For example, a class of 30 students might be split into six groups, with each group containing five students. Small groups maximize engagement and ensure students are not lost in a crowd.

Gallery Walk Examples

Let's take a look at a few examples of gallery walk ideas for various subjects.

English Example

A gallery walk can be used as a review. Let's say a teacher wants to review character traits of main and supporting characters in a novel. As a review, the teacher puts all of the major/minor characters on their own separate sheet of butcher paper and then hangs a paper at each station in the classroom. Under the character's name, the teacher writes a question pertaining to personality traits that concern this character in the novel.

Then, the teacher can give each student sticky notes or writing tools that can be used to write a response to each question. The students are broken into groups and are given an allotted amount of time to respond at each station. Each student writes his/her answer on a sticky note to place on the butcher paper or writes with a marker directly on the butcher paper.

As they move from station to station, students should try to think of responses that are different from those of their classmates, so for this type of gallery walk, it is best for each question be open ended or have multiple answers. At the end, the teacher asks a representative of each group to present a station to the class.

Social Studies Example

A gallery walk can also be used to introduce a concept. For example, imagine a history teacher wants to pique student interest in the Great Depression before teaching the unit. The teacher could choose 5-10 pictures from the time period, print them off, and tape them to around the stations around the room.

Students could then be instructed to respond to what they think is happening in the picture by writing their reaction on a sticky note or directly on the paper. Afterward, the students can present the picture they ended on, or the teacher can ask individual students about each picture.

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