A Cooperative Mural is an activity that I like to use when I finish a story and have time left to kill before the period ends. It’s very easy and takes no planning!

Cooperative Murals could also be used to review something that students have read or learned about in class: a chapter from a book, a news article about a current event, a lecture about a historical event, etc. The content does not need to be narrative in nature; however, there should be many details, facts, or events to be illustrated.

How to create a Cooperative Mural

After all students in the class are familiar with a piece of content (a story, a set of information, etc.), gather supplies. You’ll need some Dry Erase Markers and a large whiteboard -OR- an Interactive Whiteboard and compatible writing utensils. Heck, you could even use a giant sheet of paper and real markers!

Step 1: Find the first artist!

Begin by calling up a student to be an artist (ask for a volunteer, draw a popsicle stick, whatever–just get someone to the board). Instruct him or her to pick a scene from the story–any scene–and illustrate it on the whiteboard in front of the class. Give the student 30 seconds. Tell the student to draw it big enough so that everyone can see the picture, but small enough so that other illustrations can fit on the board.

Step 2: Discuss their artwork

When time is up, ask circling questions about the scene. First, ask a question to which the answer is ‘no’. (Ex: if it’s a picture of a boy and a dog, ask, “Does the boy have a pig?”…in the target language, obviously). Then ask an open-ended question: “What DOES the boy have?” Once the students say the correct scene description (“The boy has a dog”), you can circle that statement. Don’t go too long, because you’ll bore the kids to death since they just did this in the storyasking process. Ask just enough questions to help students process what you’re saying!

Step 3: Find a new artist and repeat

Call up another artist (again, you decide how you want to select students for this role). Repeat the process: different scene, 30 seconds, anywhere on the board, big but not too big. Then, discuss the scene in the same way.

Rinse and repeat as many times as needed until the majority of the story is up on the board. The illustrations should be in random places around the board, creating a sort of mural.

Cooperative Mural Extensions

If you want to practice sequencing, you could now ask students “Which scene happened first? Second? Then? Did this one happen before or after this one? Etc.

Partner Sequencing:

If you don’t want to practice sequencing, pair up your students and have them decide who is partner A and who is partner B.

Point to the first scene from the story and say “A”. “A” must describe the scene–in Spanish–to his/her partner. Give them 30 seconds; more or less depending on their language ability.

Point to the next scene and say “B”. “B” repeats the process.

Rinse and repeat until you’ve worked through all of the scenes.

If you want to keep it going, you could then point to three scenes in a row and ask each partner to describe 3 scenes in a row, so that they have to talk for longer.

Save your Mural forever!

Before you erase the board, TAKE A PICTURE! You can project it or print it out the next day to use as a prop for speaking or writing.

15 replies on “Cooperative Mural

  1. martina, have you made billions on your ideas yet? you so deserve to. god has given you a gift and we are gifted by your constant and loyal sharing. milliones de gracias! maestra tere

      1. That is so funny… I was just wondering if the next generation would even remember how shampoo always used to have instructions: “rinse and repeat” on the bottle, back in the day when we didn´t was our hair every day. I thought, some day, someone will ask… Then I saw this question. #Iamoldenoughtoremember.

  2. Martina:
    You are a genius, I’m new to TPR” however, I’m a native speaker and teach vocabulary and grammar ths way. I took a cou,rse and now I’m using the stories, I love it. Do you have ideas for stories for “Intro to Spanish” My kids need basics, numbers, letters, colors, etc very very basic, easy
    because some of are repeating for the third time Spanish for different reasons. Can you help me? I taught them the first week, “DICE” they loved it but it was hard for them. I Freshman,and Juniors HS
    Thank you Martina,
    Marta

  3. I’ve tried a cooperative mural for the first time last school year, and it worked out well. Today I tried it again, and had success in all but one of my classes (had to bail out and move to a reading, which I was lucky to have prepared)….made me think of a new way to do this activity with a more challenging group: 1) put them in groups of 4, 2) teacher recites a scene/event and group members each take a turn (or more) illustrating part of the story on a piece of paper, 3) class can then “jigsaw” the drawings around to see their peers’ artwork, 4) teacher can still use the drawings to get them to speak to one another (via document cam or projecting a picture taken on the spot)……just an idea…I’m going to try it this way with that class next time 🙂

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