First Day Reflections 2011

Today was my first full day with my Spanish students and it went really well!! Here’s what I did:

Level 2 Spanish:

  • started with seating charts as they walked in
  • handed back name cards to students who attended freshman orientation yesterday to get to practice names; asked upperclassmen to make name cards
  • Wrote inquiry question on board: “What is normal?” / invited students to consider what they thought and then handed out slips of paper to each students & played United Nations Cocktail Party – a great way to start a language class!!
  • debriefed UN cocktail party in small groups; then as a classs – discussed what it felt like to have to do something that may not feel “normal” to them & what it felt like to be on the receiving end of seemingly abnormal actions; how they coped; the relevance of the activity for a language class.
  • handed out syllabus & parent letter and told them a few details but mostly just directed them to take it home, look it over & get a parent signature on the letter to bring back tomorrow. I will give a formative quiz over the syllabus on Friday which students self-assess; this will give me an opportunity to go over the specifics with them in more detail without just talking at them.
  • Played 2 truths & a lie – I modeled with a presentation about myself first in Spanish and students then played in small groups of 3-4. Today I let them choose to use English or Spanish and all went for English but I was ok with that, because my goal this week is mostly just to get comfortable with each other & learn who is in the class.
  • That was it!

Spanish 3

  • made name cards
  • played BARNGA; similar in end goals and discussion to UN cocktail party above but extremely different in that students play the game silently and it is much more involved because it involves a card game with quite a few rules. It also takes significantly longer to play (20-30 minutes versus 3-4 for UN cocktail party).
  • debriefed BARNGA; discussed the relevance of the activity for a language class
  • began to have students read an article sharing benefits to studying a second language – very long article so it was a jigsaw where they were going to become experts on one category of reasons (e.g. studying a second language can help develop cultural awareness & sensitivity; studying a language can lead to a wider variety of career opportunities, etc.) and then re-form different groups with 1 individual from each of the previous group’s categories to share what they learned — BARNGA took longer than expected, however, so I will have to push this to tomorrow.
  • My homework for Level 3 was going to be to register for moodle & complete a student info form (email addresses, contact info, interests, etc) but the bell rang and I forgot to announce it, so that too will wait.


Things that I liked about how I started this year included:

  • it was engaging & student-centered
  • students were more active than me (I was facilitating; they were doing)
  • i kept administrative hoo-ha to a minimum
  • the activities encouraged reflection from the start and emphasized that they will work together daily and communicate often

Things I can improve upon include:

  • time management – try to come to a close the first day and give the planned assignment so that they do not have 2 tasks on subsequent evenings
  • my questions during debriefing of activities
  • allowing sufficient wait time before I answer questions for students – getting more comfortable with silence.
  • starting a little less awkwardly – there wasn’t a real “we’re beginning” moment to cue students to start; however I am trying to be a little less structured in this way this year since I have been known to go overboard with bell work activities.
I can’t wait until I know all of my students’ names and more about them. Tomorrow I’m doing name games with Spanish 3 and some active dramatic approaches with level 2 centered around the inquiry question “What do you want to know about the people in this room?” – I am using a lot of English this week to encourage a focus on getting to know each other well but I will need to transition next week into more Spanish too, so I may try to do a few of my activities in Spanish to let them get their feet wet. What did you do on your first day??

About beckysearls

Married (DINK); High School Spanish Teacher; Lover of new technology (especially apple products!), Learner (of the life-long variety), Voracious Reader, Aspiring Writer, Tweeter, and now (or rather, a returning) Blogger!
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