May Bulletin Board: Cinco de Mayo

This month’s theme is…Cinco de Mayo!

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My goals for this board:

  1. to put up something bright, colorful and “different” from the usual English board displays that students would expect to see for holidays
  2. to introduce students to another language that is widely spoken around the world, and maybe pique their interest in other cultures
  3. (although I don’t specifically say so on the board, Cinco de Mayo and Spanish language are especially relevant in California where I’m from. That’s why, even though I didn’t really celebrate it, I feel it’s a relevant board topic.)

The board consists of the following:

Border made from colored paper. I modeled it off something I saw on Cinco de Mayo celebrations on Martha Stewart’s website, haha.

Phrase of the Month. “How are you?” “I’m good, thanks” in Spanish.

English-Spanish matching. I think of this section as a stretch. Every time I explain to people how similar Spanish and English are sometimes, they seem really surprised, so I thought it would be fun to show some examples. Sometimes I’ve tried to use the example of Korean being similar to Japanese to help explain, but that doesn’t always work either. So, I put a list of 6 words with one done already, for students to see if they could find the matching word just by what it looks like. I thought of making it into a worksheet, but as you can see on the left there, I have a lot of worksheets left over from the last couple of months, and my goal is not to give them work, it’s to give them something fun and interesting to do. I don’t think any student would pick up a foreign languages-matching worksheet to do in their spare time unless they were nerdy, like me haha. I don’t like that I can’t tell if students are looking at it or not (it’s not like a free-write space where I can see if they’ve written on it), but I know that sometimes the students who have class duty for the day (and tell other students to be quiet and wait for class to start) look at it sometimes, as do the students who clean the classroom later.

I say it’s a “stretch” because I sometimes overestimate what students can do and make my activities too hard…but at least if this is too hard or uninteresting, it isn’t as “obvious” a mistake as a class activity would be, haha.

Flaps. I was reading the bulletin board ideas and examples from ALT-JTE Connect, and decided I wanted to try flaps! I did this board in two parts, and haven’t seen the effects of the second half yet, but…the paper was all nice and new on the “How many countries speak Spanish?” flap, and now it’s crumpled like students were opening it and reading it! So I think that one was a success! (on the answer side, I put a world map of the answers, and listed them all with flags–all Wikipedia information.)

The other flaps say “What is Cinco de Mayo?” (with a veeeeery simple English explanation in like one sentence with Japanese vocab too, and “It is not Mexico’s independence day” in both English and Japanese. That should make all the Cinco de Mayo informational websites happy.) Also, “Who Celebrates?” (I kept it simple with “USA” and “Mexico,” even though I know that there are celebrations all over the world. Tokyo has a celebration too, but no one would say that “Japan celebrates Cinco de Mayo.” I kept it to the main two countries.)

“How do we celebrate?” (#1 With music, #2 with dancing, #3 with food, and I had pictures.)

“What is this?” (Guacamole) “What is it made from?” (Avocadoes) (because people sometimes know but plenty of times don’t.) I won’t know till this coming week, but I think students will like this one, or at least be interested.

No free-write this time. Only the students who like One Direction seem to be using it…which I think is cute, but I don’t want to put that section up again until I think of a better way to involve more students.

The comic is a simple, unrelated one called “Fountain” from xkcd. I’m being specific on purpose because I feel like people always say “just put up a comic!” but finding something students can both understand and enjoy can be hard in Jr. high. Well, here’s a start! And Pusheen is often a good choice, too. Big, cute, eye-catching cat illustrations and simple English.

So, that’s how my board went for this month! I tried to avoid stereotypes and things. Even if a student doesn’t like English, maybe they’ll give it a chance with Spanish, haha! What do you think? What would you want your board to convey to students? Are there any comics you know that are really simple and cute that I could put up sometime? If you do, please let me know in the comments section!

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