Guest blog by Jane Lea, teacher of MFL at Standish Community High School, Wigan, since 2000.
Standish Community High School is a former ‘Language College’ and is fitted with a shopping street to allow students to practise their role-plays in a simulated environment. When I first saw the ‘street’, I realised how visual stimuli is important to engage pupils.
I have always been interested in making clear displays and I am a firm believer that displays can enhance the teaching and learning in the classroom. Some displays can look very pretty but if the pupils cannot access them they can be arbitrary and a little pointless. Yes, it is nice to display pupils’ work, I can remember having my own work put on the wall and feeling very proud of what I had produced. However, teachers are missing a trick if they do not have some meaningful displays in their classrooms. I often use my displays when I am teaching and, after a while, pupils become aware of where to look in the classroom for ‘opinions’ or ‘connectives’.
I love nothing better than looking for new classroom display ideas on Pinterest and Twitter (#mfltwitterati) and when I see a good idea, I try to put my own spin on it. However, I love it when I have a light-bulb moment and start to plan out a new display. My favourite display is my ‘verb ladders’. This has been a great display for pupils of all abilities who are able to use it to see patterns when forming various tenses. I must give mention here to Mrs. Hill who works in reprographics who has the same affliction that I have, in that displays need to be straight and borders exact! I may be a little over the top every morning ensuring that my displays are straight and borders not wonky, and some may argue style over substance, but I love it when I see pupils looking at them to try to improve their work. I think it is very important to use a large, readable font that pupils can see from all areas of the classroom.
Simple ideas can be really effective when it comes to displays and MFL lends itself to some wonderful opportunities to use your imagination. I have asked colleagues if they had any ‘no nails’ to stick plastic fruit to the wall, used up the Tippex mice to make a road, created paperchains to demonstrate linking words and took inspiration from a verb poster I purchased in France to try to explain personal pronouns. I have even made use of a leaflet rack from the ‘mock post office’ for French magazines for pupils who have finished early. I know not everyone has the time or indeed the inclination to make displays in their classroom, however, I do believe that clear displays that pupils can actually read, can be really effective.
Jane Lea’s website can be found here.
Please find more photos of Jane’s displays here.
Follow Jane @mrsJLA