Adventures in Gallery Walks for Acquisition

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This past weekend I had the joy of presenting my presentation on Keeping Students Moving – Using Gallery Walks to Leverage Movement for Engagement for the FOURTH time! It was so wonderful to meet and share with so many amazing teachers of so many wonderful languages at SCOLT in Atlanta, Georgia! Gallery Walks have become a passion for me over the years for a few reasons: Automatic Differentiation, Low-Energy Input for the Teacher, Re useable Content Year After Year, Ability to cover Large Cultural Topics in a Short Time, & MOVEMENT for students! Today I want to share 5 different ways I’m using Gallery Walks in my Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 Spanish Classes in Middle School! Though I currently teach middle school, Gallery Walks also worked AMAZINGLY for me when I taught Level 1 – Level 4 in High School… so don’t let Middle School deter you!

Outside of using Gallery Walks to show off student work / giving feedback to student work – reading gallery walks are probably the most common way to do them! I’ve seen them used in many subjects and classrooms outside of World Language! It’s also probably the lowest prep way to do a gallery walk. You can buy pre-made reading gallery walks or you can create your own. I personally recommend taking pieces of a cultural topic, short readings that relate to each other (like similarly written paragraphs, events in a series, or biographies), or similar text styles like short poems or recipes. While you COULD take a longer text and chunk it – it’s very likely your students would be reading it out of order and this will create confusion. Give students a note catcher of some sort and let them read and write down what they learn!

Using drawings for Gallery Walks was an idea shared with me by the fabulous La Maestra Loca in a PD she did for our district back in 2021. She shared that she hangs up the pictures, gives students a list of statements from the text, and has them walk around and match the statements to the correct image. This is a very low-prep way to use drawings! If you want to spend a little more time, give sentences from the text individually to students and have students create these images – select the best ones and use those! If your students are ready to produce language, instead of having them match the sentences to existing sentences they’re reading from the story, partner them up and have one student describe the image in L2 to the other partner looking at the answer sheet. Have students match them up by interpersonally communicating about what they saw. Not feeling like that higher-energy activity will work in your room? Give students blanks lines and have them walk around and write 1 -2 sentences that COULD go with the image from the text. You could give students a copy of the text OR students could use the words they have acquired to make it up! A nice follow up is sequencing events.

If you’ve been reading my Password blog posts, you know that I’m letting Passwords take over my classroom in the best way possible and we’re thriving because of it! One thing I’ve been doing is using PQA (personalized questions and answers) to scaffold a basic paragraph writing from students throughout the week. Once we’ve gotten to where students can comfortably use and produce this information – they write and type up their paragraphs. Why am I telling you all of this? Because students created content is GOLD. It takes me a few prep minutes to correct errors (spell check goes a long way!) then I have 35 – 60 or so paragraphs that I can reuse for listening or reading gallery walks. They’re high interest for students… because they want to see / hear their own work. To use as listening, I record a quick audio and post a QR code or bit.ly link on the gallery walk papers and give students a note catcher like the one in my Passwords blog post here. For reading, I do the same thing, just print them and give them a note catcher! Over the course of reading and listening – I do use EVERY paragraph from EVERY student that completed the assignment.

You might have read that last line and wondered – how in the world do students read 60 paragraphs?! I can’t read 60 paragraphs in 30 minutes! Simple – they don’t! I use a color coding / symbol system to assign a GROUP of readings to each group of students. They can then either read ALL of the readings in that grouping OR they can self select 5 – 6 depending on the total number in the group. I usually tell students the number of spaces on the note catcher is what I’m EXPECTING but they can always do MORE to exceed my expectations. I put a color (word and highlight in that color) with a shape on each reading. For example – Red is a heart. Students born in January & July would be in the Red / Heart group.

Another type of differentiation I offer with gallery walks is placing, say 16 biographies and telling students that they NEED to read 8. They can self select who they read about OR they can surpass expectations and read 10 or 12. I purposefully select content where students may have an immediate interest in 3 – 4 (maybe they’re all related to sports) and the others are totally different. This allows students to start where they are interested, and then encourages them to explore new opportunities.

I RARELY take an actual grade for gallery walks – but I do put a grade in the grade book. What? Yes, you read that correctly. I have a category in my grade book called “class work” and it’s weighted 0%. This means the grades that go in that category SHOW to students and they still feel the NEED to turn it in – but it’s weighted 0% so it’s not actually influencing their grades. I don’t want to punish students that read more slowly or carefully. I don’t want students that are absent to feel like they need to make it up. And I don’t want to have to decide was “is” or “isn’t” good enough note taking and interpretation. As long as students complete the assignment faithfully, they get a “collected” for the assignment in the grade book.

I hope some of these thoughts encourage you to give gallery walks a go in your classroom! You can shop some of my gallery walks on my website – and all of them on my TeachersPayTeachers store.

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