I think one of the past biases that I personally held about tri-boards was because of how they historically had been used. And that history was…send the tri-board home, have mom do it, and send it back and get that A+.
You cannot blame parents for this one. First of all, teachers were basically dumping this on parents. They had strict curriculums they needed to follow, no time for what was perceived as arts and crafts…send it home and let the parents deal with it. Then teachers rewarded work obviously done by adults.
And let’s not blame the teachers. They were under huge pressure to follow curriculums that moved too quickly and demanded coverage of too much material. (I overheard a fifth-grader say to his classroom teacher during a math lesson, “You know if you slowed down a little I might actually learn something.” Out of the mouths of babes.)
As a special education teacher, I was trained to slow it down, scaffold skills, and modify lessons to fit student needs. Hence why I am passionate about the project-based learning, authentic learning, learning through play movement, whatever you want to call it…it works!
During the pandemic I have seen a huge increase of people digging into how children really learn. The posts about project-based learning, authentic learning, learning through play, etc, have exploded. Fingers crossed that this understanding of how important teaching authentically is continues after we all go back to our “new normal.”
So back to tri-boards. Giving students a tri-board to use to display work is a really cool thing to do. Tri-boards can be used to encourage organization (three parts to the board), conveying the important points (limited space), originality (not just printing things from the web and gluing them on the tri-board)….
And the final tri-board does not have to be perfect. What we want to see is academic growth, not perfection. We want to see authentic student work!