Blank Walls to Start the Year? YES!

As I transition back into a bilingual classroom, focusing on biliteracy is my main goal. As I started to look at some things I wanted to put on the walls, I started to think about some things I have learned over the years. Posters are good for catching the eye of wandering minds, (as a person with ADD, I know I used to always look around when my mind would wander), but they don’t serve the purpose of TEACHING much without context and LOTS of visual scaffolding. I have a LOT of posters I have collected in my 25 years in the classroom…a LOOOTTT! Now, I am realizing that I should start my year with blank walls. I know, I know, it sounds crazy. Hear me out…

Really, the BEST way make those wandering mind moments count is to give students things to look at that help activate prior knowledge. How do we do that? We make Anchor Charts! There has been a lot of debate on what constitutes an “Anchor Chart.” I believe, after all the conferences and books and seminars and years of experience, that it can only be called an “Anchor Chart” if it is something you have created WITH students DURING learning. So, I propose you take posters and turn them into anchor charts. This means you start with a blank paper (butcher paper or chart paper) and recreate that poster you love WITH your students WHILE they are learning! Now, I am NOT artistic. Like, I am challenged to even draw stick figures well, so do not fear, I have a trick for you if this is you too! The way around it is to create one or find one online you like (there are several in my TpT store and I am giving you some here too) and project it with your document camera or projector before class starts and very lightly outline it with a pencil. This way, when you are in class, you have a guideline to follow, but the kids don’t have to know that. They can just believe you are a FABULOUS artist! LOL! Like this one can be easily traced:

Guess what? It doesn’t stop there! You can erase some parts of the poster and make it a graphic organizer the students fill out later as a way to assess their understanding of the concept …..

OR you can create a bulletin board with the idea using things the students have written to fill in the board or things you have traced and added!

So, my challenge over the summer will be to create a bunch of templates for anchor charts / graphic organizers / bulletin boards that are meaningful for students and helpful for teachers and get them ready for YOU. I will be adding them to my TpT store in a growing bundle, but….

They will be part of my MEMBERSHIP SITE, which will give you access to my resources! New subscriptions will be available in July 2022! Stay tuned for more…

Hope this inspires you to at least consider starting the year with BLANK walls!

Happy Teaching!

Alana

Find me on Instagram (@SraKSpanish) , Facebook (sra k Spanish) and Follow my TpT store as I build more resources! Be on the lookout for the announcement for my annual membership site in July 2022!

Using Graphic Organizers – Story Retell Edition

In my years in education I have learned there is power in using Graphic Organizers. This is true for ALL subject matter in ALL grade levels. I have taught elementary, middle, high school and college, and … graphic organizers were one of the BEST tools I had at my disposal at all levels. I have taught Social Studies, Math, Reading, ESOL, Bilingual, Dual Language and even Science. Guess what? … You guessed it! Graphic Organizers for the win!

They are POWERFUL because they help students see the information in a different way. We all know “chunking” works for struggling students, but it also works for ALL students. By giving students information in an “organized” structure, we allow them all to process the information at their own pace and store it visually. I have yet to find a lesson or concept that is not supported by a Graphic Organizer.

Now I teach Spanish and ESOL at middle school. One thing I do in both classes is tell stories. Kids are always super engaged with Visual Stories! (If you haven’t tried it, you should!) One great way to process the story after is to use a Graphic Organizer. Below, you will see a classic, and one of my favorites:

There are others (you can find some on my TpT store if you need some variety or want these in Spanish) you can use for a simple Story Retell, but this one is super simple. You can make this into an Anchor Chart that you create on poster paper or the white board during class.

In this digital age, it is even easier to share this with students. So, I made a Google Slides presentation you can either use WITH your students or share with them so they can fill it out on their own. Of course, the good ole printable version is HERE. Hope this is a helpful reminder for everyone about how amazing Graphic Organizers can be in your classroom!

Happy Teaching!

Alana

Find me on Instagram (@SraKSpanish) and Follow my TpT store as I build more resources!