During my last full day classes, students had an opportunity to share about their top five lessons and activities of the school year. Of course, they raved about Free Voluntary Reading (click here to read post), the Telenovela project, Conversation Circle the assortment of level 1 readers we explored, and of course, the Netflix mystery, El gran hotel. However, when given the opportunity to ask about their upcoming Spanish II class, I was surprised that they weren’t as concerned about “leveling up” as were their predecessors in the previous years. They were more curious about the class itself as a few students asked: “Will there be “Word Walls” in Spanish II?”
As a former colleague shared with me years ago, “Our classroom walls should be like Hogwarts in where the walls actually speak to the children.” She was a fourth grade teacher, whose classroom caught the eye of our district administrator. Needless to say that she’s now coaching and training teachers full-time. And her point was well taken; the learning environment needs to serve the needs of our students.
I put her advice into practice last school year, when I noticed that my classroom walls were littered with posters, cliché decorations, and outdated student work; I made giving my class a facelift, a reigning priority. I had to nip, cut, and tuck to engineer an environment that would have an impact on student learning. I ordered verb posters (Teacher’s Discovery), downloaded question words from the TPRS website, and curated a bevy of teacher created materials from TPT (I have some more in my cart for next year!). I can testify that those aesthetic changes proved to be a HUGE practical help to my students. They relied on these “talking walls” to assist them through interpersonal speaking tasks, and presentational writing. I can’t believe that I went so many years without having this compensatory aid for students. We have to do our best to surround learners with the language.
Since all the the teachers in my department made a similar shift last year to cultivate an “acquisition friendly learning environment”, I was able to affirm with confidence, “Yes, there will be Word Walls!