Charlotte’s Wall Zoo – cWZ

About a year and a half ago Charlotte (Germany) invented something for middle and elementary kids and shared it with us here. It’s called a Wall Zoo. Then today Eric Herman referenced the idea in a comment, using the term that best describes Charlotte’s idea – Draw and PQA (DPQA). It is another blue chip idea that we can use as a template.

Here is Charlotte’s idea:
I asked the students which animals they would like to draw (in the foreign language, which is English in our case) and they each picked an animal that we translated. Then I did some PQA about who would draw which animal. Then they drew them and cut them out and we stuck them on the wall for a big zoo. Next lesson I’m going to circle questions about the zoo. “Does the polar bear live in Alaska or in Afrika? Does the shark eat the penguin? Does the giraffe live with the fish? Do you like frogs?” etc. So far the kids (ten-year-olds) had lots and lots of fun, but essentially we were doing a list. I thought it was ok, because from now on, we’re going to use the animal words in stories. I don’t expect them to know them all perfectly, but I tried to expand their vocabulary by a list all in one go. Oh and we might jump into a story about two of them at the zoo.

I responded to Charlotte: This has great potential. You are using your ten year olds’ naturally high interest in animals as a base for CI. That was a great move and a great choice  – just brilliant! I would bet that any middle and elementary school teachers reading this will be doing a wall zoo next week. It will work in high school too. This is compelling input to kids! First of all, each kid’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 TPRS. It could be as powerful for younger kids as CWB to start the year. We are all well aware that the word “compelling” is key to what Krashen has been thinking about and talking about for the past five years. And this takes the kids directly there – into compelling input. If you want, write up any details for us. As others try it out, this idea will grow. I will just make a category for Wall Zoo right now and place it in the Beginning of the Year category. Note that, once those animals are in the zoo, you can ask anything about them, make up any stories about them – the possibilities for CI in your idea here are endless. Many good things will come from this idea. You could write an endless series of cute little stories about how certain animals interact. You cold ask kids how they feel about certain animals. You could do RT with this all day long. Congratulations!



15 thoughts on “Charlotte’s Wall Zoo – cWZ”

  1. I agree, this is such a compelling idea, similar to asking kids to talk about their pets. At my high school, there seems to be no end to student interest in pet talk. They’re waiving their hands to be called on next. They’re trying to show the photos on their phones. They try to get the descriptive words just right so we can really envision their cats and dogs and turtles and goats. I’m wondering how we could adapt Charlotte’s idea for the high school. Small photos or drawings. An animal wall.

  2. I think animals, sports/hobbies, and colors might cover 80-90% of what my 5th and 6th graders intrinsically want to know. I like Charlotte’s personalization of this wall by using kids’ drawings, too. I would be tempted to make it easier by printing off clip art pictures of animals, but I can see the extra excitement for the artists when you talk about the pictures they drew. Double interest: which animals they like (or dislike) plus which animal(s) they drew. Good idea.

  3. Even at the high school, pets and other animals are dynamic. Last year we had a group of freshmen who were just crazy about their pets. They emailed us pictures and we used them in all kinds of PQA and stories. And yes…we made a pet wall on one of the bulletin boards! It was perfect in so many ways…personal, compelling, full of possibilities all and without drama! I LOVE that these are kids drawings Charlotte! Thanks for sharing this Ben!!!! I bet we could even get kids to create and draw all kinds of characters for a character wall…

    with love,

  4. And, for kids who don’t have pets:
    1) a pet they wish they had
    2) a pet they’d never want to have
    3) an imaginary creature that might make a good pet
    4) a imaginary pet that doesn’t cause allergy
    5) etc.

  5. If a kid doesn’t want to draw because they think they draw badly (that would be me in a class), how else can they get their animal in the zoo for all to see?Are there options to the way the wall zoo is created?

    (By the way, Charlotte, are you American? Your English above is perfect.)

  6. Greetings to all from Costa Rica!! I haven’t been on the blog for far too long. I found a couple of minutes today to visit… 🙂

    With my 3rd-4th graders I did something that was a combo of the Wall Zoo and One Word Images. Each student had a turn up in the front and the class contributed to created a crazy animal through the questions I asked. The artist for the day illustrated and in the end we had a book of all the animals in the class. (If I had a classroom, it would have been great to put the pictures and the written descriptions on the wall.) The key to the student engagement in this was the bizarre details- like the tiny snake with one big eye who plays football…

    Lots of love to all!

  7. Thanks, no, I’m not American, I just learned English well over the years. It’s a big part of my life.
    Kids who said they couldn’t draw ended up doing a snake, a cockroach and a teddy bear. And I helped with outlines on the board sometimes. That worked for me.
    I’ll fill you in on the rest of it soon. Thanks a lot for making it a post of its own.

  8. This idea is one of those super ideas that never gets done because there is so much else to do. Quite frankly, I think it would be a hoot to just do classes focused on animals all year with all my classes. We’d never get bored! Like that little snake with the big eye who played football. One time, in a college class of adults, we had their pets going up the side of a mountain to rescue an animal in distress. I can’t remember the details, but it was truly compelling, as each student’s pet got involved in some way in this big rescue mission. We have to include this idea to start ANY year. It is true PLC gold.

  9. Thanks Charlotte! This has worked so far with my 3rd and 4th graders. They’ll sit and listen longer when it’s their artwork.

    This “Draw and PQA” could work with anything, but drawing characters gives you endless possibilities! I had kids draw a real or imagined animal and write it’s name. Then, for 10-15 minutes every class, I take 2-3 animals and stick them to the white board. Then, I write below the input we decide on. We’ve done description (is a boy, is in Africa, has a big head). I plan to use the animals to PQA has/wants/likes. Then, we will put the characters on an adventure and stick to the 3-location formula. This is great support for the Super 7 storytelling verbs, which I see as the foundation to fluency. I imagine that creating characters like this is related to Ben’s idea of The Realm. . .

    1. …I imagine that creating characters like this is related to Ben’s idea of The Realm….

      Yes Eric but the Realm failed because, although we had great character interest (one kid was a baker, the other a duke, etc.) we stalled out on good plots and we didn’t have the vocabulary. Maybe the Realm would work in a 4th year class. But there you go again with your idea machine – you took Charlotte’s post from a few years ago and saw that what she actually did in that post about the Wall Zoo was create a new concept of Draw and PQA – DPQA. I completely missed that when I first read that post. Excellent. What would interest kids more than talking about what THEY just drew? I’ll go make the category.

      1. I think we do have the plots. We just insert the student-created characters into the Matava scripts or whatever scripts we are using. We can also write our own scripts with our own target structures. I told the class our characters would go on adventures. I think this can really work, because we’ll have all these personalized characters that can all go on similar adventures, aka parallel stories 🙂

        1. I just couldn’t get the scripts to flow along through the village. It was a 15th century village in central France and we did get a troll living under a bridge. And then we got a baker who got into everybody’s business and threw bread at them. And then it just kind of ran out of steam. I would love to hear how it pans out if you try it. That Realm idea has been on hold for about ten years now.

  10. I am very new to TPRS, just had one day workshop with Haiyun Lu, but I feel I can do it well. I’m teaching Mandarin K through 6th. I was thinking about animal topic to start my first TPRS year because all kid connect with animals. But I wasn’t so sure how to start it until I find this super idea-Wall Zoo. I am going to steal it! Thank you all!

    1. Welcome Yanping! I hope we hear from you throughout the year. I think I speak for many of us here on the PLC in saying we are curious how you make TPRS/ CI work with the little kids.

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