Thank you to all of the organizers of the first ever Comprehensible Input Midwest (CIMW) conference! Not only did I leave the conference refreshed with tons of great ideas, but I also scored a few free novels thanks to TPRS Publishing and TPRS Books. This conference was unique because I got a chance to connect with local CI teachers AND see presentations from superstars such as Stephen Krashen and Carol Gaab! I presented a session titled Turning the Page: Reading in the Lower Levels which focused on backwards planning strategies for novels and activities you can do to keep your students engaged while reading. Below is a pdf of my session and some ideas from other presentations that I am excited to use in my classroom.
Krashen's Keynote Presentation
The conference started out with a presentation from the one and only Stephen Krashen! Here are some powerful thoughts from his presentation:
Carol Gaab: Inspiring Higher Order Thinking (HOT)
This session really got me thinking about the types of tasks I use in my classroom. During this session Carol stated that we need to "decide what we want to occupy our student's cognitive capacity." When I apply this statement to Bloom's Taxonomy on the left, I can see that I need to focus on creating more activities that use the upper skills. During this presentation Carol proved that you don't need to use complex language to talk about complex ideas. Teachers simply need to give students the language they need in order to process and respond to the questions they are being asked. Below are some of Carol's ideas that I have already implemented in my classroom this past week!
Who else was at Comprehensible Midwest? Did you learn any ideas that you are excited to implement in your classroom this month?
I am now a middle school teacher! At the end of last school year a position at the middle school in my district opened up, so this year I am teaching 7th and 8th grade students. Although it has only been a couple of weeks I am loving the change. My students can speak so much Spanish! I am blown away by their creativity and willingness to express themselves! My brain is already spinning thinking of endless possibilities of activities that I can do with them this year.
Over the summer I was inspired by the infographic syllabi that I have seen online so I decided to give it a try. I used Piktochart to create a new syllabus for both my 7th and 8th grade classes. I wanted to keep the information concise so I stuck to the following topics: contact information, class overview, classroom expectations, materials and goals. The "I can" goals are from Dustin Williamson's blog. Piktochart was easy to use, but in order to download the syllabus into a printable PDF I had to purchase an account ($20 if you are a teacher).
To start off the year I was inspired by Allison Wienhold's blog Mis Clases Locas. On her first day of class Allison sets up an Instagram photo booth where her students can take photos upon entering class. I decided that an Instagram photo would be a great way for students to introduce themselves and choose a Spanish name. First, I had to create my school specific Instagram photo frame. I used this Instagram template to create my photo booth. After some fancy photoshop magic I took the finished product to Walgreens where I printed it onto a poster-sized foam core. Voilá, one life-sized photo frame!
On the first day of class I handed out a list of popular Spanish names. Each student had to pick a Spanish name and write a hashtag that represented how they were feeling about the first day of school. Students had the option to write their own hashtag or choose from options such as #necesitocafé, #odioloslunes, #megustaespañol, #megustaelverano, #tengosueño. On a piece of paper they wrote their Spanish name (in true Instagram fashion they put the @ symbol in front of their name) and their hashtag. When it was their turn to take a picture, students had the option to put on glasses and hats from my prop bins. Once they had their props on, each student introduced him/herself to the class (we all said hello using that person's Spanish name), read his/her hashtag and then I took the picture. Of course the student photos turned out better than mine, but the picture below will give you an idea of what the end result looked like.
Like what you see? Download the template for your own Instagram photo booth.
I printed out all of the student photos and put them on the bulletin board outside of my classroom for back to school night. The students and parents loved looking at all of the pictures! I loved that this activity gave the students an opportunity to learn their classmate's Spanish names and express their own feelings about coming back to school. It was also a great way to break the ice and show the students that this is a class where you can express yourself and have fun!
What are your favorite beginning of the year activities?