February 18, 2019
“No significant learning happens without significant relationships.”– Dr. James Comer, child psychologist
The first week of classes, students should fill out a questionnaire so that you can learn about their families, pets, hobbies, activities, dreams, and goals.
Study your students. Find things you have in common. Through questionnaires, I found out that one of my students also has a dog named Scout. I discovered students that share my love of running. Several students have the same birthdate.
Learn about interests, abilities, and challenges. (It gets personal.) I learned that a shy, quiet student wants to swim with sharks one day. One student wants to play basketball for Duke. Another wants to walk on the moon. I read about a student who just finished chemotherapy. These are realizations I would not have had without a questionnaire.
Throughout the year, incorporate some of this information into the lesson plan. Adding personal information makes the lesson much more interesting.
- “Tony tiene un perro. Se llama Scout.” I get dramatic and say that I also have a dog named Scout. I ask questions like “Is Scout big or small? What color is Scout?”
- “A Charlie, le gusta jugar al fútbol.” I ask about his team’s name, what position he plays, and if his team is good or bad. I let them know that I am not a good soccer player.
Students light up when they get attention. They feel valued when you show that you care about their life outside of class.
Make sure to share this same information about yourself with students during the first week of class so they get to know you!
2. Name Games
Know your students’ names. This is a challenging task when you teach hundreds of students. I know; I had more than 900 students when I taught K–5! Greet students by name at the door every day asking, “¿Cómo te llamas?” until you associate names with faces.
- Introductions—In small groups, have students introduce themselves to each other, then change groups. In a large group, circle up to introduce themselves and the person/people in front of them. “Me llamo… Se llama…” As the year progresses, add information: “Me llamo ___ y soy de ___.” Or “Me llamo ___ y me gusta ____.” Play along and place yourself last!
- Self Portraits—Students write “Yo soy” in bold letters at the top of a paper and draw a picture of their face. They list ten adjectives to describe their appearance or personality. Instruct them to add details that make them unique (eye color, freckles, hairstyle, braces, glasses, and jewelry). Display proudly on a bulletin board.
- Name Acrostic—Students write their name vertically in big, chunky letters and choose adjectives to go with each letter of their name.
Break the ice in your classroom and warm up with these classic activities!
- Find Someone Who—Create a 4 x 3 table with one yes-no question inside of each box. For example: “Do you have a brother?” “Is pizza your favorite food?” “Do you like soccer?” “Is math your favorite class?” This is a quick and easy movement activity where students get out of their seats to find someone who can answer the question affirmatively. When someone answers “sí,” they get a signature and move on to find someone new who can answer another question. The winner is the first to obtain twelve different signatures. Spanish must be spoken the entire time! I love to stand back and watch students engage. It is a proud teacher moment to see them interacting with one another, speaking Spanish and having fun!
- Levántense si…/Stand Up If…—This game is an easy way for students to instantly see those who share the same interests. Create a list of statements for students to stand if it is true for them or stay seated if false. Use likes and dislikes. “Stand up if you like football. Stand up if you like Fortnite. Stand up if you like sushi.” Refer to pop culture as much as possible. Include popular singers, athletes, movies on Netflix, books, songs, TV shows, videogames, sports—anything relevant to them!
- Two Truths and a Lie— Students write three statements about themselves, two that are true and one that is a lie. Each student introduces himself or herself to the group and shares the three statements. The group tries to guess which statement is the lie.
4. “All About Me” Activities
This is one of my favorite units! It comes at the end of the year when students have already learned how to say their name, where they are from, their age, and birthdate. It focuses on families, pets, and favorites. I get to know all about my students, and they get to know all about me. It usually leads to some very interesting connections!
I will never forget the day when I showed a picture of my husband to the class and said, “Este es mi esposo, David. Es de Walhalla.” A young girl said, “My mom is from Walhalla.” (Walhalla is a very small town in upstate South Carolina.) I asked her in Spanish for her mother’s name and age. I told her “David tiene cuarenta y seis años.” The next day she told me that her mom went to high school with my husband—and he took her to prom! The class erupted in laughter.
- Interview the Teacher—Make a slideshow with questions to support students as they interview you. Choose basic questions like “Where are you from?”, “Do you have children/pets?”, and “What is your favorite ____?” Add photos of your family, pets, and favorites on separate slides.
- All About Me Banner—Create a template where students fill out basic information about themselves and display it in your classroom. Use sentence starters to support their writing. (Me llamo…, Soy de…, Me
gusta…) This can also be used as a speaking activity.
- Q & A—Make a list of twelve basic questions that students should be able to answer by the end of the unit. Students write the questions and answers on an index card. Then they use them to converse with partners. As a speaking activity, students introduce themselves and select a few statements to present to the class. Keep the cards to use later in a guessing game.
- ¿Quién es?—This makes a great warm up! Choose a few cards to read from each day. Have students guess
whomyou are describing.
Getting to know students through meaningful, well-planned activities will set the tone for good relationships within your classroom. When your students have good relationships with you and one another, they can learn anything!
Laura Lee is a Teacher-Author living in northwest Florida. She is a graduate of Clemson University and has taught Spanish for over eighteen years. Señora Lee has shared her love of Spanish with students ranging from kindergarten to eighth grade. She is passionate about finding ways to engage students and make learning fun! Find more of her ideas and activities for teaching Spanish at www.senoralee.com or in her Teachers Pay Teachers Store, Senora Lee – for the LOVE of Spanish.
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