I no longer teach traditional “thematic units” (ex: places around town, food & dining, etc.): instead, I plan my units around high frequency vocabulary and pull in other vocabulary as it naturally comes up. My students have had great success with this instructional focus, and there are a few tricks that I’ve incorporated to make sure that we still cover important, non-frequency vocabulary. One of my favorite way to do this is by covering my walls with posters that contain vocabulary that I want my students to use and learn. The operative word in that sentence is “USE”, because any poster that stays on my wall needs to be USED so that it doesn’t become white noise. Click here to view and download some of the posters that I have in my classroom (they are provided in French and Spanish).

The posters that I’m sharing today are location posters: common places that students talk about in normal conversation. This list includes places like school, store, restaurant, college, house, church, library, mall, and park. Because they are important locations in my students’ lives, I refer to them constantly as they appear in personalized class discussion, and students use them in their writing and when they make suggestions for class stories. I believe I saw this idea about five years ago on Ben Slavic’s blog, but I might have learned it from Bryce Hedstrom. Can’t really remember at this point. Either way, it came from greatness 🙂

To create these posters, I wrote the Spanish vocabulary term on a piece of construction paper (12″x20″), divided them up between each of my classes (I think I had 10 locations, so 2 per class, since I had five classes), and then asked for student volunteers to illustrate them (I wrote English translations on the back to make sure that students drew the correct location). I had at least two very artistic students in each class that were quite happy to have the opportunity to display their artwork. They took them home and brought back the completed illustration within a week. I laminated them, and they became a classroom fixture for the remainder of that school year. Check these out:

la casa – the house

This poster, for “house” is fairly obvious, but some students might interpret it as “garage” or even “driveway”. For this reason, I think that it is important to still tack up a translation of the term on or near the poster until students are sure of the meaning: we want to eliminate ambiguity whenever we have the opportunity!

la biblioteca – the library

Because of this poster and the amount that we used it in class conversation, my students had already acquired it by the time that we reached our Biblioburro unit.

la universidad – the university

This last one (la universidad) cracks  me up, because the student that made it was Samoan with family living in Hawaii, and she was less concerned about communicating the meaning of the word than she was about personalizing the poster. Also, I love that she wrote “…etc.” on the poster. I used it anyway because many of my students had family members and/or friends that had attended BYU, so they were familiar with that acronym, and “la universidad” is a cognate. If it weren’t for these two things, I would have asked her to re-do the illustration not because it wasn’t awesome,  but because it doesn’t effectively communicate the meaning of the word.

Depending on how regularly you refer to these posters, you may only need to keep them up for a quarter or a semester, and then you can take them down and put up new word posters in their place. Never keep a poster on your wall that students don’t use!

2 replies on “…and even more posters!

  1. Thank you so much for all that you post and share. I did copy your folder on posters to my Google Drive tonight. I can’t wait to go through them and put them in my class. Tonight as I watch the Golden Globes, I am also playing with Blendspace for the first time after seeing it shared again on the World Language Education post about 5 favorite apps for language learning. So many cool tools. Wish I did not need to sleep so I could play with them.

  2. Hi, Martina my name is Eliza and your description of your classroom immediately reminded me of mine. The thematic units have disappeared and lessons taught are frequently based upon vocabulary that comes up organically. I am not a TPRS teacher but rather am an OWL teacher meaning I use the methods introiduced to me by Organic World Languages. OWL is very similar to TPRS in many ways except there is no direct first language comparison and therefore zero English use in the classroom. Have you heard of OWL? Judging by your description of your classroom it will blend well with what you already do and believe! This year several OWL teachers have starting blogging. Some of which are:
    You have without a doubt influenced us in so many ways. (I use many of the brain breaks you posted earlier this year daily.) We would love to start a dialogue with you and get your thoughts about OWL!

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