What should we have on our walls?

I was recently asked “what’s on your walls?” (that’s Spanish-related).  Here it is: everything on my walls to do with Spanish.

First, colour chart.  100% comprehensible with no English.  (Pink is getting faded😞)

Next, the front of the room. I have class rules and PQA chart and question words– that’s it. On the board is vocab from the story we are starting today: Adriana Ramírez’ El Rolls Royce y el Perro Rosado.  I will write a few sentences from the story– the ones with new structures– plus some dialogue once the kids have copied this vocab (and its English equivalents).  There will be WAY less junk on the board.

Finally, here is the PQA chart from above pic, closeup. This is what we use when we start with beginners.  Some kids– the fast processors who I use as actors– pick this up quickly. Others need way more reps. I just point to it.

Here is desk layout.  I like the idea of deskless (Mike Coxon does this) but I need desks for English and Social Justice.  We have a pretty good acting space at the front. It works well.  This is an English 10 class.  In the far back row in the red is Novneet. He was in my Spanish I  class last semester and majorly crushed it– 750-word 3-tense stories, with superb grammar– but he is not as strong a student in English.  My other superstar beginner, Shayla, is also in this class, and is the same: not an analytic English crusher.  Interesting that academically average kids can majorly excel in a language if taught with comprehensible input.

You will also note other teacher essentials: coffee mugs and a mandolin 😉

Even though I also teach English and Social Justice, and I need wall space for projects, I wouldn’t put any more Spanish stuff on the walls. Why? Because visual clutter is annoying and doesn’t help the kids. Maybe it was Ben Slavic who mentiond “the Ikea room.”

Some teachers ask me, “ok, where is your word wall, or where are your number and location-word posters?”

A) I had a word wall, with eveything from connecting phrases– therefore, after, etc– to location words to labeled pictures of verbs, objects, etc, and guess what? The kids copied stuff off the walls (as I hoped they would), trying to beef up their writing, and misused almost everything on the walls. This was I think because stuff that’s not acquired gets manipulated by the conscious mind and so they say ok, how do I say ____? Ok there it is, I’ll toss that into this sentence…yo tengo fui al cine.  With less on walls, what I get in writing is what they actually know.

B) Numbers, location words, time, date, weather etc are boring so I just throw one into each story and the kids pick it up that way. Voilá less junk on walls. I deal with boring stuff this way.

C) The fewer visual distractions, the more mental energy we have for focusing on and processing the essential stuff in stories.  T.P.R.S. is “narrow and deep”-focused.  We want our kids to master essentials– teach for mastery, not presentation, as Blaine Ray puts it.

Ok there we go. One teacher’s room layout.

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7 comments

  1. Hi . . . Love all your ideas . . .i have a question about the 3 tenses stories in Spanish 1 – obviously it includes the present tense, and the other two tenses? Imperfect? Preterite? Conditional?

    Thanks

    1. I just use what I need for a story. Beginner story #1, for example uses:
      ¿Tienes….? — Tengo
      ¿Eres…? — Soy
      ¿Te gustan…? — Me gustan…
      ¿Qué necesitas? –Necesito…
      Había, fue/fueron, quería, le dijo…, estaba

  2. Chris, are we the same person? Your handwriting and scissors skills and urgency in your question words (NO TIME TO LAMINATE, DAMNIT!) look EXACTLY like mine. Nearly disposable hangables, in case you change your mind. ONE significant difference: I leave my mandolin at home….

  3. I do have all my input control (“Was bedeutet das?” “Wie bitte?” “Wie sagt man…”) and helpful classroom phrases (“Darf ich zur Toilette?” “Haben Sie einen Bleistift fuer mich?”) on the wall, too. Which is dumb, the way I use them–because they are on the wall, I forget to incorporate them into stories. Oops. And then kids acquire them much much more slowly.

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