Charlotte’s Wall Zoo

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28 thoughts on “Charlotte’s Wall Zoo”

  1. Using ten year olds’ naturally high interest in animals as a base for CI is a great move and a great choice. I would bet that any middle and elementary school teachers reading this might be doing a wall zoo next week. We can see what Catharina and Martha advise. It might work in high school too. This is compelling input to students! First of all, each student’s own animal is up there. They are just waiting for you to get to their animal! They may not say it but it is true.
    This really could be a curriculum for an entire year of CI instruction. We are all well aware that the word “compelling” is key to what Krashen has been talking about for the past ten years. And this takes the kids directly there – into compelling input. As others try it out, this idea will grow.
    As Charlotte said, once those animals are in the zoo, we can ask anything about them, make up any stories about them – the possibilities for CI in this idea are endless. Many good things will come from this idea. We could write an endless series of cute little stories about how certain animals interact. We could ask kids how they feel about certain animals. We could do work with our zoos all day long. I guess we would have to have them draw their animals on really big paper so everyone could see them. This could be a good end of year activity.

      1. Diane the idea is wonderful. It really could be fun to teach. I want to try it right now but I don’t have a bunch of sixth graders.
        We could work with the art teachers in our buildings on a year long Art/Foreign Language project, a major curricular unit in both classes.
        The project could be called, in different languages depending on what class they are doing it:
        The Animal Project
        Le Projet des Animaux
        El Proyecto de los Animales
        or something like that.
        The two parts of the project would be:
        First semester: The Art Part
        The kids make their animals to eventually at the beginning of the second semester fit on the special chair in the foreign language classroom and be the star for the week. The children make their animals from clay or papier maché, etc.
        A set of guidelines could be established. For example:
        1. The animal must be able to fold it’s legs and sit on the chair in the foreign language classroom (no restriction on the number of legs). It should be made to not fall off the chair easily.
        2. Animal must be no taller than six feet.
        3. Animal must be treated properly and stored in a safe place.
        4. No cages.
        5. Food is optional.
        Second Semester: The Language Part
        When it’s time for their animal to be moved from the art room to the foreign language classroom, one per week, the kids could sit next to their creation and answer questions for it.
        We could follow the Star of the Week format to create questions. Here are some examples:
        What is your name?
        How old are you?
        Why is your nose purple?
        Do you like having paws?
        Are you the only animal like this, or are there others?
        What do you eat?
        Where do you sleep?
        Do you hibernate?
        Can those wings fly?
        Do you shit in the woods?
        The problem of the kids’ not having enough vocabulary to answer is easily answered by the teacher instantly translating in the response. This happens in regular Star of the Week sometimes as I observed it in Sabrina’s classroom.

        1. And science. My previous school (not sure which grade) had a science project in which the kids created an animal, drew it, and described where and how it lived. They had to think about the animal’s needs and how it would meet them in its habitat. Fun project to see in the hallway. At least, I think it was science, not art!

          1. Speaking of science. I have never tried, but imagine that doing some simple science experiments, especially ones that are easy to repeat, could be some novel CI.

          2. That’s cause you’re into magic. Magic tricks and blowing shit up in class. Truly, the Herminator is a man of unique talents beyond those of being a research guru, master CI teacher, and jackal.

    1. This could absolutely be used in high school, depending on the group, of course. I had a group two years ago that were seriously into animals, biology, zoology and they would have LOVED this. And I would have too 🙂

      1. I am glad we are tapping into animals. I love that story from Charlotte about the kid with the animal book he carried around all the time, the one who couldn’t read at home because of the energy costs. I love that kids love animals, because somebody has to these days. I love that you had a class that was all into animals, jen. Let’s stay in touch here on Le Projet des Animaux. There is so much potential here and as we always do we can learn from each others’ attempts to get it going in our classrooms. I made two categories for it:
        1. Zoo/Wall Zoo
        2. Animals
        Well it’s 60 degrees and sunny with no wind in Denver so I guess I’ll go for a bike ride. Just sayin’.

      2. DANG! I wish I had read this post back in March when it resurfaced!!! I had a Level 3 class that would have loved this!! One girl in that class kept asking if we could talk about animals!! Now her final is tomorrow, and we never did it! BUMMER! (to me)

  2. This is such a fabulous idea. It has all the elements of success for teaching younger kids. Thank you Ben for putting it up again. Perfect timing.
    The whole journey from using children’s drawings, to asking questions, to incorporating facts about animals, and co-creating a fun story is so beautifully scaffolded to get extra reps. I love the detailed explanations.
    More. Please.

  3. I wanted to ad that I am guilty of doing the same stuff over and over. I do the same stories+activities with most of my grades, year in year out. No one complains. Go figure.
    It has cut down on prep time tremendously, but gets boring after a while.
    Thank you for all the sharing and inspiration I get from reading this blog.

  4. So great, and timed perfectly, as I am about to dip my toe in the younger children’s water! I will be calling on all of y’all soon, but this gives me a great framework to start!!! Yay!!! 😀

      1. I also want to know about teaching younger kids, how to do it. That is why I gobbled up your posts over on the Forum, Catharina, and want to add them to the big ass new book, as an appendix, with your permission so please send it to me. It’s all you wrote over there about four months ago on elementary CI instruction.

        1. Funny you should write that today, Ben. All day it felt like I was a back at square 1. Ugh.
          Some days the mayonnaise just curdles, no matter what 🙁

          1. That’s the beauty of it, Catharina. The embracing of the curdling on certain days. That’s why we are teachers. We learn stuff about ourselves in this profession that others can’t learn in other professions. Being a teacher is a blessing. Just know that your work with those really small ones, all the snot, all that fidgeting, is at least paving the way for kids to be able to learn a language when they are young. This has never been done in the world in a way that works. I call that important. You are one fine teacher, Catharina. Everything you share with us here helps us more than you think. You do the hard work, working with those little ones. You can’t fake CI with kids of that age. Those kids need you. Remember when you told us that you went to some school district in NYC or somewhere were they had just decided to just not teach foreign languages in their elementary schools? It’s because you weren’t there. And how many kids now don’t get to learn a language at a younger age because there is no one to lead the way. You are carrying a standard, Catharina. Hold it high. Others will follow. Unless they want to teach those kids about object pronouns and that pesky subjunctive mood.

  5. You are so kind Ben. Right this moment I am not sure about anything. Sometimes I wonder if I am actually walking the walk? I get it intellectually but can I -do- it?
    “Tomorrow is another day” fortunately.

    1. After yesterday’s flop I’ve decided to do it all over again, differently.
      My wonderful division head (not a FL teacher) suggested I talk to the kids in L1 and get some feedback. Why are we doing this activity? Does this activity help you learn? What do you find difficult/hard?
      She did also say that the kids are still young and not always able to express/understand what effective strategies look like. But it’s worth a try.
      I am so determined. There is a word for this in Finnish, a 4 letter word that gets a whole page on Wikipedia :”sisu”.

  6. I feel the same way. Don’t tell anybody. I think it’s the nature of the work. Shifting from relying completely on the intellect and allowing the heart in to our teaching more is not something most teachers do. Going from pure intellect to intuition. I know exactly what you mean. I think that the people who are really doing this work are the ones who are most insecure about it. It’s just that way.

    1. It is very easy to slip into focusing too much on the “language” (the form) and not the image (the meaning). This invariably happens when we run any activity that takes us frequently out of bounds, e.g. reading something with too many new words. Reading, in general, tempts us to make it about conscious learning.

  7. That’s why I don’t do Pop Up Grammar when doing stories or anything auditory – only in reading. And when reading I limit any conscious explanation to four seconds exactly as Susan Gross has taught us to do that. That way, we make the reading into, as Susie says, a movie unfolding in our minds. That’s why I prefer Reading Option A over Read and Discuss.

  8. Does anyone have an opinion on whether it is helpful to include an article when posting pictures of nouns labeled in the TL, and if so, whether the definite or indefinite article is more helpful?

  9. Animal curriculum – chock fulla possibilities.
    3rd graders in our district do animal reports in their regular classroom – they pick an animal and report on stuff like: physical description, habitat, food/diet, behaviors, predator/prey, babies.
    I’ll bet I can have stories practically fall outta their mouths if I manipulate some energetic verbs (eats, lives, flies, jumps, attacks, sleeps) and mix them up with some obvious cognates:
    carnívoro/herbívoro; desierto/océano; Africa, Antártida, etc….

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