I know that I feel like this every year, but I can never believe how fast the summer flies by! Tomorrow we have an institute day and the following day will be my first day with my new students. Last year was my first year teaching middle school Spanish and there were so many times where I thought to myself "Oh no...I should have done this differently!" This year I'm excited to learn from my mistakes and make this year even better than the last.
Last year I started class off with an Instagram photo booth for the first day (read more about last year's first day plans here), but this year I wanted to shake things up! For the first day of school I will show the students a power point introducing myself with pictures of my summer. While I am explaining the pictures the students will be playing "strip" bingo. I will write high-frequency words from my presentation on the whiteboard and students have to fill in each of the five squares on their bingo strip with a different word. When they hear me say a word that is on the end of their bingo strip they get to tear it off. Whoever tears off all of the words first is the winner. This is a great game because it helps the students stay engaged while they are listening.
On the second day of school I will let the students pick a Spanish name and then we will play Speedball to help learn everyone's name and build our classroom community. I got this game from the 'Mis Clases Locas' blog which has some really great ideas for the beginning of the year. After playing speedball I am going to give my students a survey to fill out about their summer (you can download the 'vacaciones de verano' survey below.) Each student will walk around the room with a clipboard and paper and ask their classmates the questions on the survey. If a student answers 'yes' to one of the questions he/she signs the box containing the question. More advanced students can give a full response using the prompts at the bottom of the square. The object of the game is to get a different name in each square. Once the students are done filling in all of the squares we play bingo! To play bingo I randomly call out names and if a student has a square with the name that I call out they mark it with an 'X'. If someone gets a bingo they have to read the answers back to me. For example, "María fue a las montañas, Juan comió en un restaurante, etc."
Last year I created my syllabus on Piktochart. This year I went onto their website and revised my syllabus to include more detailed course goals and information about homework and grading. I copied my course goals from the syllabus on the Creative Language Class blog and I copied the section about proficiency from a syllabus on a different blog that I can't find now (if you recognize where this section came from let me know--I'd love to cite the blog here.) You can download a copy of my 7th grade syllabus below (the 8th grade syllabus is the same except the novels are Bianca Nieves y los 7 toritos & La Llorona de Mazatlán.)
What are your favorite activities to use during the first weeks of class?
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?