Question 1

We have some really good questions from Jonathan in Virginia. I put my responses below, and we can use the comment fields. I would love to see if group members have thoughts on the cart question, in particular. It’s a question that has never come up here, to my recollection.
I’ve recently joined the PLC (earlier this month) and I’m finding the sharing transformative.
Thanks to all participating.
I have a request for advice from the PLC on creative ideas for those of us who are on a cart.
Our situation in our school (3 World Lang. teachers: 2 Span. & 1 Fr.) is that 2 out of the 3 of us are the ONLY people in the entire building without a classroom to call our own (besides 2 part-timers in Sci & Hist).  Shows you a little how we rank as a dept (sore spot, yes)…
SO…(Getting off my little soapbox)
Question 1:  What are some quick and easy suggestions for helping make the visible “Word Walls” & “Artist Galleries” & the like present, but also mobile (and removable).  I have created an “Anfitrion(a) del restaurante” student job (Restaurant host) who are the students that help me set up and tear down (markers, hall pass, class rules, question word posters, etc), but I was wondering about other suggestions as well since it is becoming rather cumbersome to haul all of this stuff around.  (I also am going to add a bag of stuffed animals to my roving treasure trove – thanks for the idea to Greg Schwab for pulling that out during his recent video he shared)

On the stuffed animals, I may be in the minority but I don’t use them. I find that invariably kids cannot keep from putting them on their heads and causing other distractions with them, plus they get dirty.
On the posters, I feel strongly that we have too many posters anyway. Tina feels the same way. We think that in this kind of NT work we don’t need a single poster, even a question word poster, since, when we sense a weak response from the class, we can just use Walk Before You Talk to clarify anything. Plus, when the question words aren’t visible like that, the kids don’t think that the word for “when” in French is pronounced “qwand”. So if I were on a cart I wouldn’t have any posters up, and be none the worse off.
However, the artist’s stations is needed. They have to be at a work station. Is there a table where they can work in the room?
I would definitely get rid of the desks and have the students sit in chairs behind 3 rows of smallish tables. You can fit 35 kids behind 3 rows of tables with 12 kids at each table and it takes up half the room of regular desks.
You can also “go deskless”. Lots of people are loving not having desks and I advocate trying it. It lessens the distance. All that depends on the class though. Some kids in some schools need desks and can’t handle the increased human feel of a deskless classroom.
The big thing is that the artist’s must have their space. I would bring in, only on the days when you are drawing, about five or six sheets of chart/butcher block (so much cheaper) and so you would only have to carry on your cart their supplies and a few markers and an eraser. That’s minimal.
Another way to handle the artist’s station problem, and in fact this was how the original Invisibles classes were created, I just had them draw on Notability and would then project their drawings up on the screen on the LCD.
Of course, then you can’t have a Gallery, it would be in a computer, but then you can’t have one when you are on a cart, anyway. Using Notability solves the problem of lugging chart paper and markers around, certainly. In New Delhi we quite enjoyed Notability. (It is a 1:1 school and all the kids have iPads – our PLC member Dana is there now. Maybe she will hand off the job when she moves on in the International Circuit to someone in our group.)
Not being able to have a visible wall gallery in an Invisibles classroom is a big loss, of course. But maybe you could take fifteen minutes a week to project the images created by each class on the screen so that the kids can see how their art work stacks up with the other classes, which source of competition is a very powerful motivator in an Invisibles classroom.
Last point on the Word Walls. I don’t do them anymore, since, besides being a pain to maintain, it is also targeted instruction and I just no longer see the need for it, if one is teaching for acquisition as opposed to teaching for the textbook companies.



9 thoughts on “Question 1”

  1. Jonathan,
    I’m also a “cart teacher” and feel your pain. I teach 5 classes in 4 different classrooms — none of them back to back. It’s a nightmare. I’m happy to post pics of my cart to give you ideas. . .not sure how to do that here. Maybe I can email them to Ben?
    I have to keep telling myself that “less is more”. I try to leave the art work in the rooms I’m in (in a drawer) so that I don’t have to lug them around, but it certainly defeats the purpose of trying to create a gallery. I’m going to try to do an online gallery this quarter and next and then post it to Schoology so the kids can at least access pictures of their drawings.
    I have the rules on my cart and I invested in a tangible calendar. Creating a calendar for each class was just too overwhelming of a thought. I needed one that I could reuse and I didn’t want to use an online one. I do however take a pic of my calendar each morning and display it via projector on the whiteboard so those in the back can see it better.
    Since I am in 4 different classrooms, going deskless is also not an option for me. I think that’s the part that bothers me the most — each classroom’s design is different and having to set up a class seating chart that takes into consideration four different seating arrangements is a challenge. Plus how I move about in the space is so different from period to period.
    I have my question words already clipped with magnetic clips “ready to go” if I feel the need to hang them. It drives me absolutely bonkers that one class I’m in has question words laminated on the wall already — but in the back of the room! How does that make sense?! But the alphabet is front and center above the whiteboard. . .

    1. Send them to me Robyn. I can post them here. It’s not as if we will solve the problem but just seeing a pic of the cart might jog someone’s imagination to come up with something.
      This line:
      …how I move about in the space is so different from period to period….
      This would really bother me. I know we are not actors on stage, but the idea of working in the same space is all the same an important part of our success. So sorry to hear about what is happening in our field. Being on the cart is no joke. It can burn out a person.

      1. Julie Quenneville

        It’s true…we have to go into others’ classrooms and deal with the crazy setups they have in place. It’s one thing I’m trying hard to let go of…especially when we have like 3 empty classes in our building.

    2. Sounds rough, Robyn. It seems that non-targeted instruction is your guiding light, with having to change classrooms so much. All the best to you!

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