Thursday, 22 May 2014

Grade 5 Exhibition - Printed Display Boards

This year at East we are lucky to have access to a large format printer. I say large, and I mean HUGE! It is about the size of a piano (see the door in the picture as a frame of reference!).

The Grade 5 students were given the option of printing their display boards in one piece using the large format printer, or they could assemble their boards by printing individual sections, as usual.

The majority of the groups chose to print using the large format printer, which was quite a leap of faith. Time was tight, and deadlines were shorter for those wanting to use the printer (we had to factor in time to print, after all).

I presented to students about: 

  • The elements of design (CARP - Contrast, Alignment, Repetition & Proximity)
  • How to pull people in by maximising visuals and making numbers pop
  • Choosing a font which is clear and easy to read
  • The importance of a minimalist colour scheme
I showed some boards which had been poorly designed so they would know some pitfalls to avoid. I showed some board makeovers, so they could see the difference CARP can make in a viewer's understanding of a display board.

We created some blank Pages templates for the students to use, which were set the right size for their display boards. From there, the groups decided on colour schemes, images, statistics, and most importantly - which information was the most important to share on their board.

Some tips which helped students included:

  • Breaking information into sections, so that related information was in the same section (Proximity)
  • Having a semi-transparent shape behind a text box to make text stand out.
  • Arranging text in columns or chunks, instead of going all the way across the page.
  • Using Creative Commons images, such as the wonderful ones found in The Noun Project.
  • Searching for the largest image size, so no pixelation occurred in the finished poster.

My colleague Dave Caleb and I touched base with as many groups as we could to give suggestions. It was lovely for us to see the different ways the groups chose to display their understanding. The other powerful thing was seeing the students' faces fill with pride when they saw their printed work. 

One student said, "I never thought I would be able to create something THIS professional!"

Some of the advantages to using printed display boards include:
  • An understanding of proportion and scale of the finished product. A big blank space on the page equals a big blank space on the poster. 
  • The ability to experiment and make changes easily. Want to know which font is easier to read? Duplicate the page, and test them out - look at full screen view to see which is clearer (see image on right by way of example - 17 pages of changes!).
  • The range of colours available to use was wider than the colours of backing paper we had available in our store room.
  • Access to tools like the colour dropper in Pages, which meant we could customize colours to images used on the boards.
  • Tools such as the edges and midpoint alignment rulers, which enabled students to align objects easily.

We were very proud of the students' efforts, and hope that even more will take up the opportunity to choose a printed board next year.


  1. Fantastic! Especially the section on the advantages of this approach, I love the duplicate pages idea.

    1. Thanks Sean :) The duplicate pages idea worked really well for showing the design progression.

  2. This is awesome! What a great culmination to all the design work you guys did. The finished product really is professional. I love the idea of Pages templates for sections of the graphic as opposed to trying to do the whole thing on one doc and scale it.

    1. Hi Doug,

      Thanks for your feedback!

      Actually, we DID do the whole thing on one doc and scaled it - it helped the kids see the size and scale of the images and text they were using, which made them more mindful of what was most important, and which information needed to be the biggest etc.

      That was one of the huge advantages over the traditional 'print it out and stick it on the board' method. We measured the size of the boards they had available, so when printed out, we had the exact shape needed. No wastage!