This year I am teaching Spanish I and IV. I usually put a large emphasis on building classroom community in the first couple of weeks. This also helps norm the classroom and reinforces rules I have for participation. These are adapted from Tina Hargaaden’s rules from “A natural Approach to Year One”:
- Listen with the intent to understand
- Do your 50%
- One person speaks at a time
- Support the flow of conversation
These rules do well in combination with card talk and special person interviews to create expectations.
For Spanish IV, I have been doing special person interviews for years as a way to give students confidence at the beginning of the year and connect with each other. You can get an explanation of the special person interview and its benefits over at Byrce Hedstrom’s website.
First, I present information about myself on the first day and have students interview me with questions from the website above or from their own minds.
After we put together a paragraph about me, reviewing details along the way and emphasizing the use of cohesive devices and connectors to enhance their language.
Over the next couple weeks, one or two students are interviewed each day. Students learn about each other, make connections and, practice empathy. Meanwhile, you hold them to the rules of participation. I test the students on each other after everyone has presented.
In Spanish I, we do a simplified version, known as card talk. Somewhere to Share has a great overview of a card talk. With this plan, there are games to play to review and there is a final project as well.
In the end, I always end up learning a ton about students and use that information as the year goes on. The students get great practice with high frequency verbs and get their mojo back.