Saturday, September 7, 2019

Day 1 in my classroom, 2019

I started school last week!  This year, my schedule is less convenient, I lost prep time, and I added another class.  I am doing my very best to be positive and sanguine about these changes, while looking ahead at what I will need to do to maximize my limited time.  I expect another blog post about planning time to come soon, as soon as I have lived it a bit more! Here is one planning post to get you started, if you are interested.  

But what the heck did I do during my first three or four days with the kids?   This post is about Day 1 and my overall goals.  Click here for Day 2 (with some examples of activities that I do) and Day 3. (with examples of how I differentiate an activity).  

Overall Goals 

My goal for the students was to help them see that this class is fun, that they will understand the Spanish we use, and also fun.  My teacher goal was to introduce them to some procedures and routines that will be the foundation of our year (like how we return to our seats from brain breaks and how we interact with each other in class).  My academic goal was to spend enough time in Spanish to make it feel like a language class, while not overwhelming or scaring them.  

My favorite way to do this is with a story.  But sometimes it doesn't go as planned! Read on for details, and a couple of ideas of what to do with the stories once they are finished, or skip to here for detailed activity ideas.

Day 1 in middle school 

Short classes!  In each class, I started with teaching the procedures for walking into my classroom.  (Because that first moment is the most important opportunity to establish how it is going to go, at least in my opinion.)  I had name tags for the kids, seating cards so they had random, assigned seating with less anxiety, and directions on the board.  

Kids lined up outside my room to wait for me.  I pulled one kid who I sort of knew and had them be my helper; they stood by the materials and made sure each student saw the directions and saw where the materials are located in the room.  Meanwhile, I greeted each student, asked them their name pronunciation and preferred nickname if applicable, and welcomed them.  

I did not welcome them in Spanish.  I did not start class in Spanish.  Once I taught them my "class is starting" procedure (in English) (click here for an older post about procedures and routines) and we practiced it a couple of times, I welcomed them in English.  

Then I made a little time for them to tell me what they were excited about, what they were nervous about, and what questions they had.    I smiled a lot.  We chatted.  I answered their questions and concerns, and I shared mine.  One class had more questions, and one was silent so I had to do a think-pair-share.  

I said several times "I am speaking in English now because I want you to know what is going on in this class, and I know that we will be speaking plenty of Spanish later."  

Then we did a quick brain break- I taught them to form 2 lines quickly and we practiced that a couple of times.  Then, they made a complex handshake with their partner(s) and practiced it- they had one minute.  I did this all in English, except for the second time we formed two lines- then I gave the direction in Spanish.  

I told them this handshake partner was their compañero de Bolivia, (Bolivian partner) and whenever they heard me yell BOLIVIA they needed to run to a space in the room with their partner and do their crazy handshake.  

We practiced that a couple of times, and then practiced how I get them back to their seats. (I do a call and response, which I learned from Annabelle.)  I praised them for doing it correctly and invited them (invited is a nice way to say that I forced them, but in a friendly way) to practice it again when they didn't get it quite right.  

Then, depending on how much time that all took, we started a little Spanish story.  

In two classes (I use class names as Annabelle suggests in this post- so these classes were Cuba and Honduras, both honors classes), I had them move chairs to how I like them for story asking, and we got started. 

 Here is the outline of the script I use (and some other beginning of the year resources) but it is very loose.  And remember, I am *not* teaching beginners!  If I was teaching beginners, I would start out doing exactly what is described in SOMOS 1, Unit 1, available for free on TPT.  *

With República Dominicana, the story went nowhere, but we did establish that one kid had shoes that smelled delicious, and that it was bad behavior to eat other people's sandwiches.  

Panamá ran out of time to move chairs and start a story, so I started talking about animals.  I used my rather gigantic collection of stuffed animals to ask (in target language) "Who has a dog?  I have a dog. Jay, you have a dog?  Who else has a dog?   Who has a cat?"  I used gestures and comprehension checks and the realia of the stuffed animals to support.  When I got to a stranger animal (moose, otter, giant spider), I started asking "Who wants a ___?", again checking for comprehension and using gestures.  

At the end of each class, I took a picture of whatever I wrote on the board so I could recreate it later.  

This wasn't quite a story, but it was a lot of input!  

At the end of the day, I took a few minutes to type out as much of the story we had done, based on the photo of the board.  This is a CRUCIAL, if exhausting step, both to help me decide where to go tomorrow, and to help me remember what we talked about.  I remembered why I usually don't do storyasking at the same time in all my classes if I can help it!  

Read on for Day 2 and 3!   

*Full disclosure: I now work for Martina Bex and the Comprehensible Classroom, but I do not renummerated based on sales or commission- at all. I am recommending it because it is fantastic.  


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