Ca-ca cambios… First Day!
I have collected so much great information over the summer to set my classroom goals for this year, now 4 days before day 1 I’ve scrapped a major assessment that I designed and am rewriting the syllabus, again. More disciplinary engagement = more changes!
This academic year my goals are to advocate for language learning, to broaden my lesson planning towards a deeper understanding of culture, to connect my students to multilingual communities, and to show them how Spanish is useful to them in their communities.
Keeping this in mind, my strategies for the first day are:
- My particular anxiety is how to adapt the ideas that I have been collecting to a DE class. The modes of instruction that I use are simultaneous video. Last year I shied away from sticking to the TL and using truly communicative activities out of tech fatigue. This year I want to focus on what I can do. I loved Creative Language Class’ ideas for creating first impressions. I can prepare them for hearing only Spanish by having “pay attention – what do you understand?” on the screen as they come in. I can then introduce myself in the TL and then give a short intro to cognates and listening strategies.
- Tell them more about myself, and learn more about them. My natural instinct is to avoid talking about myself, but I forget to tell them about my own language journey. I also want them to learn about each other to start building community on day 1. I will bravely use the PQA techniques offered by Teaching Comprehensibly with Lauren Tauchman, getting them to use the microphones on the first day to announce commonalities with their classmates as they introduce themselves.
- Begin with a strength-based approach. I’m going to talk to them about different learning styles and explain that they will find that there is one thing that they are very good at even while they may struggle in other areas. I will ask them to pay attention in the first week to what they think is easiest for them – listening, reading, writing, speaking. After getting to know their strengths I can look to those students to take the lead when doing activities based in their learning style.
- Finally, to remind them that they are not only language learners, but speakers. Which brings me to my last minute expectations change – I will have them keep a portfolio of contact with Spanish outside of class, adapted from a seminar I took led by Pablo Muirhead, and his resource handbook Strengthening Spanish Language Instruction: Practical Strategies for Strengthening Your Students’ Proficiency in Spanish, 2nd Ed. Objective: To recognize the ways in which Spanish is present in their community and taking advantage of opportunities to engage with Spanish outside the classroom. The contacts could be beginning a conversation with someone, listening to a Spanish radio station, picking up a local Spanish newspaper, or attending a religious service in Spanish. In their reflections they will answer:
- What was the activity? Describe the source/situation.
- Did you understand everything that was said/heard/read? If not, what strategies did you use to understand?
- If you were speaking, were you understood by the listener? If not, what strategies did you use to make yourself understood?
- If you read something, what was the content? What communities is the publication written for? Describe the content.
- List 2-3 words that you learned.
- What is one thing that you discovered, that was new to you? Did you meet someone new, speak to someone that you know but that you’ve never spoken to in Spanish, become familiar with something that you did not know about before?
BEST WISHES FOR YOUR ACADEMIC YEAR!