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Curating a Writing Museum: A Protocol

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Summary: This protocol introduces an activity that professional development facilitators can use to guide participants in creating a “museum gallery walk” to study their students’ writing. The activity would work well after participants have experimented with new writing instruction in their classrooms and presumes that participants have student writing for collegial review that they have brought to the table. This resource can lead to rich discussions about what students have accomplished and can accomplish as writers. The activity can also be adapted easily to PD with a focus on teachers as writers prompting them to examine their own writing in similar ways.


Prepare a Week Prior to Activity: Please bring a small set of student writing samples (2­4 pieces) for personal reflection and collegial examination. The writing samples may represent what you have “tried” on account of our professional development in the past weeks.

I. Create a display for our gallery of student work – Prepare for collegial spectators (25­-30 Minutes)

  • Curating: Write responses to 4 or 5 of the following questions to help spectators understand the context of your students’ work. You can write on a pad OR on your laptop. Leave this writing, your “curator’s notes” next to your museum piece(s).
    1. What is this work? Where did it come from?
    2. What prior HVWP experiences inform this work? How so?
    3. How well did the assignment fulfill your purposes?
    4. What is promising about this work? What worked and why?
    5. What parts were difficult for students? How so?
    6. What surprises are there in the way students completed the assignment?
    7. What will happen next?
    8. What, if anything, would you do differently next time, and why?
  • Create Title Cards for your “Museum” pieces (fold note cards like a tent and leave next to the pieces of student writing). Write minimal contextual detail on title cards for spectators to see (type of work, class, and your name).
    • Five Image Story
    • 12th grade AP World History, Fall 2014
    • Amy
  • Visitor’s Pad: Place a long piece of paper next to the display and label it “Visitors’ Pad.”

II. Gallery Walk – quiet ​immersion: ​observing/noting patterns (30­-60 Minutes)

  • Sit at colleagues’ displays and read curators’ notes and the work: ​Take notes about what you see.
  • Leave response on Visitors’ Pads: ​Point out specific aspects that you appreciate about the work, connections, questions, and suggestions on the visitors’ pad/paper

III. Finding patterns and speculating – Our group discussion (15-­30 minutes)

  • What patterns do you notice across the displays of student work? What seems promising?
  • What instructional practices do we seem to value? What work would you like to try with your students?
  • We just tried a “writing museum” and “gallery walk.” What did you think?

Original Source: Hudson Valley Writing Project, http://bit.ly/1QmfA0y

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