Gallery Walks are not new, but they are a great way to engage your students. They work best when you have a small piece of information over a broad topic. An example of this might be a Textbook Scavenger Hunt or Feature of a Civilization.
The key to making a Gallery Walk work for you is strong classroom management. Through trial and error I have learned that you can’t just let the students go – wander around your room – and expect them to have actually learned anything. The key to a successful Gallery Walk is “Inspect what you Expect!”
Step 1 – Model!! Model exactly what your expectations are for both the learning and the behavior.
Step 2 – Allow students to conduct the activity – but they must check in with you after every two or three stops. This prevents students from rushing through the activity and helps keep them on task.
Step 3 – Keep ’em on their toes! Every 15-20 minutes stop the activity and randomly ask one or two students questions about what they have learned.
Step 4 – Debrief the gallery walk. You can do this in multiple ways. You can create a human bar graph where students stand in front of a sign to represent a specific learning goal. For example, in Features of a Civilization, you can post the 8 features and then ask “Which one of these do you consider the most important? Your students can then stand in front of the sign they think represents the topic the best.