We’re 1/3 of the way through the school year. Doesn’t that make you tingle? And why shouldn’t it? In my experience, no matter how much anyone enjoys what they do, everyone just wants to go home at the end of the day, and especially at the end of the school year!
Here is what my Word Walls look like after 12 classes (Latin 1x/wk):
Notice the variation amongst all three, despite a core set of words used throughout. These Word Walls represent “high frequency” as a concept. Even after watching and discussing the same MovieTalk, each class has its own identity…
Also, if we’re 1/3 of the way through the school year, these words might end up as the only ones to be acquired! Of course, I will be providing a broader net of comprehensible input, not just the Word Wall words, but these are the ones they will have seen in many different contexts by the end of the year (e.g. the new word in April will appear how many times before school’s out?). The spongy students—you know who they are—will soak up almost everything. A realistic outcome for the rest, however, will be to partially acquire any more words they’re exposed to from here on out. We must also recognize that some (many?) of the words on the Word Wall aren’t even partially-acquired, and won’t end up fully-acquired!
This is the first year I’ve begun with a blank wall, and then added words nested under corresponding question words—an awesome idea I got from Jason Fritze at NTPRS 2017. This week, I’m going to do Wall Talk. As far as I know, people don’t do this, but that’s fine. It’s a partially-communicative activity (i.e. focused on meaning but lacking a communicative purpose), but that’s also fine. A lot of what we do is partially-communicative anyway until a genuine purpose to use language arises. Some teachers cultivate these moments via Tasks, and others use the language for entertainment. Context will determine whether your older students enjoy creating a test for younger ones (i.e. Tea with BVP example), or listening to/co-creating a fun story.
While I often glance at my Word Wall for either/or question options, or refer to it when writing short texts for each class, Wall Talk is a kind of routine based on “all you need is one.” For example, a word from our MovieTalk was dōnum (gift). My first thought when looking at that word is to scan the room while building sense of mystery, identify an item, and then ask the student if they want to give it to me as a gift. Yes, I’m trying to be funny, much like a comedian (wait, so the purpose is entertainment, perhaps Wall Talk COULD be fully-communicative?) while providing more exposure to words.