“Materials” relates to the resources you need to acquire in order to set up your exhibition space to best showcase student work.

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Topic: Materials

Email 4 (of 10)

“Materials” relates to the resources you need to acquire in order to set up your exhibition space to best showcase student work.

Think about how you want your exhibit space to look and what materials will best support that. Say you want to transform your classroom into a museum space, what might you need? It can be as simple as using painter's tape and giant sheets of black plastic to drape in your room to create a facade of a different wall and bring more attention to the student work. Little placards can be constructed using cardboard, glue, and text formatted to fit. You’d be amazed at how black tablecloth can transform a room. Remember that simplicity is key when thinking about your materials you need for your exhibition.

Tips and Tricks

  • Your students’ families may also have connections to organizations or may have unique skills that they can offer to support your exhibitions. Setting up for exhibition can be a way to build more community in your classroom.
  • For inspiration, have your students visit a local museum to see how they curate the artifacts and their spaces. Your exhibitions will improve the more you think like a curator.
  • While food or drinks can be a welcome addition to an exhibition (who doesn’t love snacks?), make sure to plan carefully around how to manage this station and what your expectations are for students. Food can get lost in a classroom and attract critters, so you may want to only have food outside of the classroom space and definitely assign people to clean up thoroughly after the event is over.
  • Materials can often be donated by local organizations. When you are reaching out for outside venues, don’t forget to consider what other materials they might be able to donate or discount.

Activity 1: Plan the flow of your exhibition with a floor plan and make a preliminary materials list.

Activity Notes: 

This is an opportunity to easily think about how your exhibition fits into your space. You may not be able to set up on non-exhibition days if the venue is not at your school. Even if your exhibition space is your classroom, it can be easier to draw out your space before anything else. Once you’re done with this, examine your plan and generate a list of materials you need. You’ll quickly be able to notice what items you want but may not be readily accessible. You can also enlist students in this activity and co-construct a vision for exhibition.

Some questions to consider:

  • How will your guests enter and exit your space?
  • Are there places where guests may be confused about where to go?
  • Are there places that may get congested (e.g. the snack table)?
  • How might you organize crowd control? Will you have a rope to organize a line or have students to support the guest entry?

Activity 2: Set a budget that is less than what you think is needed for your Activity 1 exhibition. Make decisions about what you can afford.

Activity Notes: 

Take the list of materials you created based on the last prompt and try to price out what you can afford on this limited budget. What might not be necessary? What items might you purchase second-hand? Don’t forget that buying materials isn’t your only option. What can you bring from home, get for free, or source from students and parents/guardians? Do you need to buy certain software? Or can it be avoided with a free alternative?

Case Study

When it came time to assign students jobs for the exhibition, Ari was surprised by how eager his students were to take on new roles. Some of his students were in charge of sewing black bed sheets together to make curtain backdrops for their photography display, while others were designing invitational posters to display around the community.
A team of students worked to liaise with local vendors to get donations for the event, and another team engineered ways to light each of the art pieces and written vignettes. Ari realized that he usually only interacted with his students as their biology teacher, grading them on how well they could recall information or write up experiments. He saw his students begin to take ownership over the event, and not view it as “one more thing” to do to get a grade. As the students began curating their own work the event became even more special for everyone involved! He never would have guessed how important it is to organize materials for exhibition until he saw how it helped everyone relate to one another in new ways, learning about and valuing each other’s interests, passions, and family assets.


Below is a preview of some of the additional readings, videos, comics, and other resources to enhance your learning regarding this email’s topic. You can review these materials in full by going to the course landing page.


Curating Student Work Presentation Deck
A presentation that highlights how any available space can be used to showcase student learning in an exhibition.


You can help us!

If you have any resources that you think people would benefit course participants, email us at Simply put “Exhibiting Student Work Resource Submission” in the email subject. Send us the file and remember to tell us which email lesson you think it should be a part of in the body of the email. We’ll review it and get back to you if we decide to use it!

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