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Mood Boards 101: Just. Do. It

I don't want to waste a single second of today's post. If you need to get up-to-speed on what a mood board is, take a little looksie here. You'll get all the info you need on the origin of mood boards and how they're used in the real world.

Today's focus is getting you started on implementing them in your own classroom. The first key element in using mood boards in your ELA classroom echoes the immortal words of Nike: Just Do It.

Don't get too bogged down in the details, just commit to making an attempt. Start by thinking of a piece of literature you already cover (a poem, a short story, or a novel) that could use a little refresh.

Enter the mood board.

This activity is versatile enough that you can use it as a minor exercise or a major project. Remember, a mood board visually represents the themes and characters of a piece of writing. It helps students think abstractly about concepts while demonstrating their understanding in a tangible way. It allows for a hands-on approach to engaging with writing that does not rely heavily on written expression.

To make this a more do-able thing, I've created a free resource to get you started. It includes instructions, sample mood boards, as well as a rubric. All. Totally. Free.

But if you're like me and you learn best by doing, here is a condensed version of what you'll need to do to get this activity up and running in your room:

  1. Choose a piece of literature for kids to respond to with a mood board.

  2. Decide how many spaces you want it to encompass. A good mood board usually has at least five and probably no more than twelve. Canva has some great free layout you and your students can use for this project.

  3. Establish how many and what kind of elements you want included. I detail what these elements are in my free resource: Mood Boards 101. Know that they should rely heavily on visuals - colors, textures, photograph, icons, illustrations. These are the core of the mood board and symbolically represent large themes of the text.

  4. Come up with a way to assess the mood boards...if you decide to assess them at all. Remember that they are meant as a way for students to demonstrate their understanding - not their artistic ability.

  5. Set up a rubric (if you choose to assess) so that students know what is expected of them.

  6. Find an audience for the final mood boards. They make great pieces for a bulletin board or classroom gallery.

To help you out, here is an example of what a mood board might look like. This example appears in my resource. I used Canva to set this resource up.

Mood boards provide one more way to students to interact with texts. It plays to the strength of hands-on learners who tend toward the artistic or even kinesthetic side of learning. It offers a way for students to explore themes and concepts in a less-traditional way (than say, a writing assignment) while allowing teachers to still assess comprehension. Plus they're a lot of fun to put together.

Once you try it, let me know how it goes or offer some advice to other followers! Best of luck!

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