In anticipation of wrenches being thrown at us next week when teachers are officially back, I went into school one morning to set up my room again. Here are updates…
One major update is a last-minute idea inspired by Open Coaching at iFLT. The coaching stations just have common English words to point to when establishing meaning of the target language. This eliminates shuffling around “yes/no” posters, etc. in various languages when a different teacher gets coached. Well, I realized that this would save a BOAT LOAD of space in the classroom, too! The posters below were combined into the one clean single poster you see above. It has all the words I need to establish meaning of my questions just by pointing to the corresponding English.
Of course, this works really well for Latin because it behaves much like English “wh” words, all with “qu” sounds. Three other non “qu” sounding question words remain on the board. Also, I’ll be in a better position to use relative pronouns more clearly, which have nearly identical forms as the questions. This is a nice change from before when I would point to the question word and just not make it sound like a question. I always had to check comprehension, but this is clearer, and faster. And of course, if a student would like me to write a word on the board, they can signal me. Anyway, I’m excited to see how this plays out.
Next up is the Free Voluntary Reading (FVR) area with new rugs and slightly different layout that isn’t just willy nilly decorating. Since the reading program was so successful, I wanted to open up that space into more of the room. Also, decided to rearrange furniture to keep the focus on independent reading, breaking up what was more of a social cluster of chairs in a closed-off niche of the room really far away from my desk. Students were good about reading, but this improvement gives students a bit more space. Here’s a before/after (i.e. top/bottom) comparison:
I also went ahead and ditched the word wall organized by parts of speech nested under corresponding question words (now combined into that single one at the front). Why? I just came to a point where I didn’t need that reference anymore. With the cabinet space free, I also shifted Tiny Words and Q&A responses over to the side, now closer to students and easier to read. Besides, those function words and variation of “yes/no” responses won’t really be the focus in the beginning anyway, so there’s less of a reason to have them front and center. Here’s a before/after (i.e. top/bottom) comparison:
In addition to combining the question posters and shifting of Tiny Words and Q&A, the front of the room now has less clutter. N.B. the “yes/no” and “true/false” posters will be gone after a couple weeks. Those aren’t really necessary beyond then. You’ll also see how I added a duplicate set of rules front and center. I still have the original set up towards the ceiling in the upper right corner of the room, but I now want these in a very accessible place for the beginning of the year. You can also see the top verbs in that pic, and another update is to ditch the super posters that no one really needed, and stick to the very clear 3rd person singular all year. I also won’t bother with distributing duplicates for students to hold up as a student job when the word is used. Instead, I’m going to focus on handing out posters that encourage interaction; interjections as rejoinders! Those are more fun (used to support interaction) than holding up a verb (supports comprehension, only):
Next up, it’s amazing how one word changes everything. What used to be “suggestion guidelines” for collaborative storytelling is now “language guidelines” that apply all throughout class. This should encourage more target language use without the more punitive NO ENGLISH rule. To be clear, I haven’t used that rule for a few years. Now, however, I think I’ve reached a good compromise since these are guidelines, really, not rules as part of class expectations. That gives me the flexibility to lean on them if class feels like it’s full of chatter, or back off if there’s something being expressed that we want to give space for:
Last but not least, is a place for my student teacher to sit when I’m up, and for ME to sit when he is! I’m glad I nabbed a comfy chair and folding table for that. We need to feel both free to observe, but not like we don’t have a place for our stuff.
Anyway, here’s to 2019-20!