“Um, excuse me Miss… haven’t you met the AP yet?”
“Yes I have met the AP.”
“Well just so you know Miss, she’s not going to like this......In fact, I think she is going to go crazy.”
On my first day at my new school my students sat apprehensive, whispering, predicting my demise. Lucky for me the AP is actually much more relaxed then the students perceive her to be and I am still alive and well and able to write this post.
So what was I doing that caused my students to quiver in fear for my life? I was writing on the mirrors that adorn one wall of my classroom with liquid chalk and I have continued to write on them just about every day since.
I believe that our classroom walls should speak - actually sing, yell, hail, screech, whoop and yodel what we are learning. Walls can be collaboration spaces, project vision boards, idea centres, inspiration zones and working areas. Teachers hang up complete works, but there is little purpose to this. The learning has been done and we have moved onto something new. Showcasing completed work isn’t assisting the current learning and teaching. While on the other hand, talking walls can project the learning forward.
My walls change daily, weekly and monthly depending on what is happening in my room. Here are some of the ways I make my walls talk:
Liquid chalk Collaboration - As I mentioned earlier I have wall to floor mirrors at one end of my class. (This is a Drama classroom.) Each year group is allocated a section of the mirrors and this is their collaboration space for a unit of work. I also write key elements or vital information onto these mirrors so we can continually refer back to them. My students use these mirrors independently now. Just the other day I came into my classroom to find, in my absence the day before, my year 12’s had used the liquid chalk to plot out a complete structure for the piece they are currently working on. I could see their working, their decision making and we could easily modify the work if needed. This allows for effective collaboration, ongoing communication, self-directed learning and increased metacognition. The mirrors are still usable for dance or drama tasks despite the writing. Sometimes when we run out of space we also write on the windows. You could use liquid chalk on other surfaces (as I am aware most of you wouldn’t have mirrors!), including non-porous surfaces, blackboards, whiteboards, whiteboard painted walls, glass, metal, ceramic tiles, Perspex, laminated surfaces, enamel painted surfaces or any sealed surfaces. It wipes off fairly easily. The cheapest place to purchase the markers is eBay.
Functioning Scaffolds – I often use scaffolds on my classroom wall (such as the Playbuilding Ladder). The students move physically with game pieces through the scaffold. They pin their pieces where they are up to in the process, which allows me to see the progress they are or aren’t making. It also ensures the students really consider the steps they need to undertake.
Post-it – My classroom is often covered in post-it notes. Sometimes they are used to make comments or expand ideas on the collaboration space or vision board. Sometimes they are used as exit passes or AHA moments. There is also a window above my desk where students know they can post me a note or a thought using a post-it. Each year group has a set colour so that I can quickly identify a group of thoughts. (Eg. I know all yellow post-it notes belong to year 10.)
The walls of my classroom mirror the walls of my student’s minds. They aren’t used to impress other teachers or parents that enter. They aren’t there to display A+ work. They are there to sing, yell, hail, screech, whoop and yodel what we are learning. And when I clear them, wipe the mirrors clean, take the last unit down -we have a clear canvas to begin creating all over again.
If the walls of your classroom could talk, what would they say?