Questionnaires – 2

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23 thoughts on “Questionnaires – 2”

  1. The only list of words on the wall is student-generated. It’s a list of words and phrases we want to use all the time but somehow easily forget. We add to it all year. Currently the list has words like: sometimes, maybe, it depends, probably, etc.

    I wish I did have a word wall. One thing we are sorely lacking is common vocabulary for all of the classes. It makes for a lot of work when I have to make up summative and cumulative assessments for 4 sections of German 2, for instance.

    I’m just not willing to prescribe or standardize the lessons, so I have to make up all of the different assessments. It’s worth it, I think.

    1. Interesting. Thanks for the reply, Anne. See, I started with a new group of students at a new school just recently and I’m thinking of posting up the Super 7 (and maybe the Sweet Sixteen a few weeks later) to have as a kinda anchor as we continue with CWB, Questionnaire, and mini-stories stuff. I also want to have a “little words” poster with and, of, in, on, from, to, but, if. I’m just going to do it to help me feel more settled.

      And then, as you do, I’m going to think about how I can have a running word list to keep up and add to throughout the term.

      much appreciated!

      1. I wonder if Blaine had word walls at the beginning of all this. More and more, I am seeing how his vision was distorted over the years. Word walls is an example. Do we need them for acquisition? If the child knows it or doesn’t know it, it’s not going to help if the word is on the wall – only repeated input can cement the word in the child’s brain. And I’m a word wall guy. But only because they are useful in the school setting. There is language acquisition, and then there is language acquisition in schools.

          1. I have been thinking about this what you said here Nathaniel for a few days. That is the only reason I can see for a word wall after thinking about it. Word walls cannot work, in my view, in an a priori way.

          2. It is when we work with language that emerges from the students’ interests and imaginations that words are retained, and not because there is a list of the words we have “learned” because they were somewhere up in the room. When we listen to a symphony, do we then put up a list of all the notes used to create it? Words exist in context and it is in context that we retain and use them.

          3. Word walls can keep a record, as Nathaniel has pointed out, but they cannot teach anything. Even thought they can keep a visual record of words used in class up to a certain point, there are four reasons against using them: (1) they would have to be updated every day to be accurate, (2) each student has a different rate of retention and ability to process, so that each would have a different relationship with the words on the wall, (3) they represent clutter, where clutter is a big enemy in storytelling, and (4) the posters don’t stay up on jen’s concrete walls. We cannot successfully say about a comprehensible classroom that “all of the kids now know all of these words” so it seems a bit simplistic to write them all down as if the entire class knows them. It’s like showing off or trying to bullshit people.

          4. I guess it’s my day to wrestle with whether I want to use word walls or not. One thing I know is that language that emerges from the class is much more quickly and effortlessly retained by the students and doesn’t necessarily have to be recorded, no more than we record all the words our small children learn on their bedroom walls. Books do that.

  2. I did it because it looked cool and made the Word Chunk Team Game easier to run and was excellent for a quick game of Simon Says, and the people who came in saw the words and were impressed. Word walls are kind of bogus. Beniko and Krashen and Tina and I were sitting there last summer and word walls came up and Beniko said, “What’s a word wall?”

  3. I keep waffling on it. Heh. I am the eternal waffler. Mostly I waver because of the clutter effect. I don’t have a lot of wall space. Plus my walls are cement and nothing sticks to them except those fancy expensive velcro type thingys. But those are not flexible. You have to pre plan where you are going to stick stuff.

    I have been using a lot of chart paper. It costs a lot of money (mine). I am happy to use it if it is helpful, such as for the artist job. I also have a few daily warm ups on there so I can flip through at the beginning of class with a bit of PQA, warm up stuff. But a lot of the paper gets words up on there that I stick on the walls only to have it fall on the floor a couple days later.

    My latest idea, since I am about to start over in January, is to have 3 separate chart pads, one for each group. It will function sort of like an oversized “retroactive plan book” where stuff from each class gets recorded. Ha! This will make it easier for me to “enter my plans and my daily reflections into planbook” as I am required to do (but have yet to start that this year, shame on me, I never reflect on my practice *extreme sarcasm*). So each class will have its own structures on there. I don’t know how it will work functionally. I am just envisioning the pad will be specific to each group.

    I may just have the super 7 / sweet 16 up on the wall somewhere–maybe the window shades, as stuff seems to stick up there–similar to Sean’s idea.

  4. Thank you jen. As I read your comment, I just started reflecting on how really unnecessary and a part of clutter they are. You said it and I said it: they are clutter.

    What is the point of them again? To impress people who walk in? Do the kids even refer to them? They don’t. Not even in the WCTG. And I hardly ever play Simon Dit.

    Flaubert wrote a Dictionary of “Idées Reçues” – received ideas – I think the idea of word walls should maybe go in there for teachers. We do them because we received the idea from previous teachers. The implication is that they are kind of cliché.

    This is important to me because I just wrote a four page section of a future book on word walls. I am going to re-read it and if it isn’t really convincing I will delete it. I am starting to smell a rat on word walls.

  5. Am I wrong in saying that it’s hard to get a decent conversation going in class without students having some familiarity of the Super 7? Isn’t it hard to run the Invisibles, for example, without lots of familiarity with the Super 7? Doesn’t a Super 7 word wall with present and past tenses displayed at the beginning of the year help students prepare for the switching of tenses during conversations with stories later on?

    These questions really help me realize just how new to this method I really am!

    1. Sean if we are truly just delivering understandable messages then maybe we are conceptualizing the word walls as a scaffold for earlier than spontaneous output? I’d say that there’s not a problem in using whatever verbs or tenses we need without word walls to refer to as LONG as the kids are comprehending. This is from a teacher – me – who tried building emergent word walls for the first time this year. Beniko came to my room and said they were unnecessary. I only use them in the WCTG myself. Not sure they’re worth the clutter.

      1. I really do need to look at more of your videos, Tina. At this point I think the Super 7 word wall I want to put up is more for me than for the students 🙂

        1. Well Sean I would not say that my classes are like some kind of gold standard. But I *DO* know we are having a heck of a good time in class. The best time ever. I credit the engagement and trust, the trust that it will be fun and student-built from the ground up.

  6. Great questions and I can only respond from my own experience.

    The Invisibles happened in January a year ago. Before that, in the fall, it was all Matava stories. I did not target anything. No Super 7, no nothing. It’s just my nature to believe that commonly occurring verbs/words in the language will be learned if we just keep talking.

    So there is no wrong, each of us does it our own way. Even though I had a word wall up last year I never used it – it was just for show because I had to make it look like I was a teacher since it was my first year in that school. Certainly no verb tense charts. Why?

    The way I understand the acquisition process is that sound and meaning pasted together by lots of CI put the unconscious mind totally in control of the process. But when the mind has to LOOK at a chart, it engages, even if just for a split second, the conscious faculty.

    A quick look at the posted charts is like a little fender bender. If the teacher forces the kids to focus more intently on past tense forms vs. present tense forms, etc. it is a car wreck. It’s not a car wreck after the kids have heard and read enough language (a few years) and are READY to focus on form, so that is where the analogy breaks down. But I think the Super 7 thing is not that important, just as I think that focusing on any targeted words is not important.

    The unconscious and conscious faculty in language acquisition is like the war between the sheep and the flowers in Le Petit Prince. So I do feel that the Super 7 is vastly overrated, and that I don’t need to target them or anything else.

    I am happy to be saying that here in the safety of our PLC because if I hit FB with that I would have my ass handed to me on a platter by the experts.

    1. I hear you, Ben, on those fender benders that happen when students engage the conscious faculty even if only by looking at a word on a word wall. But I still feel the need to put up the Super 7 with my new group of students after Winter Break. Maybe the conscious faculty could be hoodwinked if I post an image next to each word on the word wall…

  7. RE: word walls- I created one last year as a n experiment and noticed that after the novelty wore off, it became background noise for the kids, with an occasional reference to a new verb – I sashayed across the room to point it out – which also slowed me down. I also saw the kids occasionally glancing at a word to confirm what they wanted to answer, here and there. So I’d say there was some but minimal benefit – mostly for me.
    Not worth making a big deal of, unless you do timed/free writes. For writing I think the lists offers students some security.
    In Tina’s wonderfully instructive videos, I see lots of wall posters with words on them – she sometimes grabs one – say with some common descriptors- and goes to town collecting details during a OWI. She sometimes just writes ’em down w/marker i=on the whiteboard.

    I don’t think it makes a diff either way – but your own personal (dis)organization style and accountability to evaluators may help you decide whether to mount one. I can send my cute Spanish verb word wall doc to anyone who wants it – each verb appears in a lil speech bubble, with its English translation below it in red.
    I don’t think it proscribes the convo, but does off a suggesting to T’s about what to include/how to stay in bounds. Like an invisible dog fence but without the shock.

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