Reporting - on something big

Triboard.

The word is enough to weaken the knees of many a parent of elementary and middle-school students. Sure, it's just a 3-by-4-foot piece of cardboard (that costs $6.95, but that's another matter). It looks innocent enough. But try to help a fifth-grader fill its three-sided girth with facts about, say, the Battle of Trenton, and you may start to relate to Washington crossing the Delaware.

What ever happened to the simple posterboard?

To kids I know, at least, completing a report with a mere poster would be like choosing a Toyota Corolla instead of a Ford Expedition for an off-road adventure.

Reportmaking is big - literally. The well-executed cover page or easily rolled-up poster illustration is out. An inflexible prairie of corrugated paper that rivals kids in stature - and requires a ride to school -is definitely in.

Now, I'm all for including art and presentation as important elements in student reports. Spur- ring kids to wield a crayon or marker to enhance their written information is great (and I'd suggest teachers occasionally ban any use of computers for elaborate pie charts or quickly rendered maps). It can convince the most hardened child of letters that producing an interesting design or drawing is possible without either lots of raw talent or a master's degree. The triboard's tendency to prompt kids to organize information in a fresh way is a plus as well.

But does it have to be so big?

*Send comments to Learning editor, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115 or e-mail newcomba@csps.com

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