First Day Fun

On the first day of school, I try to avoid covering policies and procedures in my classes.  Why?  Well, to be honest, students get that from every teacher in every class on the first day.  If they are in my first period, they might have an interest but 2nd-7th periods have zero interest in hearing me babble on about rules, grading, and how great our year is going to be.  In LOTE, we dare to be different and think outside the box!

I have heard some teachers who start the first day with a story or a children’s book filled with cognates so that kids can see that they already know a lot of words (this works especially well in level 1), others who play the name game, some who have students make name cards and introduce themselves in the target language.  I also loved the idea of creating a PowerPoint about my lifestyle to go with an introduction to me and my class.  Like many of my students, I get stage fright when I have to be center stage.  On the first day, I am too nervous myself to put on a show (later on, usually by day 2, I get over it and am wiling to make the biggest fool of my self whenever it makes the environment for engaging).  I am visual, so the name cards would probably help me but the name game does nothing for me since I’m not an auditory learner.

So what do I do?  Well, first I hand out the calendar and we have our first Tapa del Día.  But after, I do a mingling activity I call Lotería Social–or “Social Bingo.”  I create a 4×4 bingo card with a question or topic in each box.  Students must roam around the room, asking each other questions to find someone different who answers “yes” to each box’s criteria.  I model it by asking a random kid a question I think they will answer “no” to.  Then I explain (in the TL of course) that I must now ask a different question.  I ask until the student says “yes.”  I next ask for their name and demonstrate writing it on my paper.  The students then get some time to complete the activity–and I participate too.  After several minutes, we regroup and I ask who they had on their papers for each box.  It’s a lot of fun to see who said “yes” to which question.  The greatest feature of this activity is that it’s easy to adapt to different levels (from level 2 and up).  For level 2, I used sports, movies, activities, books, etc and the kids usually fashioned questions about whether or not the person likes, plays, participates, reads, etc the item in each box.  For level 3, I make it all in the past–former teachers, did you see __ movie?, did you read___?, etc.

Lotería Social is only one of the activities I do on the first day.  Throughout the entire class period, I work on setting the tone for the year, something I will get more into on another post soon.

Those who can, teach LOTE!


My name is Laura-Jane Barber and I am a Spanish teacher in North Texas looking to create a professional network.  I am looking for people with awesome ideas that I can use in my classroom and will gladly share my own great ideas.  Collaboration leads to the best ideas in my experience.

What do you need to know about me?… I have wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember–my mom said it was almost as soon as I knew what one was. When I was a little older, I fell in love with Spanish while trying to teach myself from one of my young aunt’s junior high Spanish books. I still have it somewhere.  It was between Spanish and my other love, history.  Spanish won out because it can easily combine both!

My thoughts on teaching?…  I love interacting with high school students and am always eager to try new and fun ideas in class. If I’m bored, I know my students are too and try to mix up as often as possible. I also believe that I am more than just a Spanish teacher. I strive to help shape my students into better human beings through every opportunity that arises in the classroom.  I’ll dedicate a post to this soon.

Some words and phrases that describe my teaching style:
-target language teaching
-discovery learning
-PACE lessons
-comprehensible input
-maximize student engagement
-facilitating learning

I also have a love of blogging, though I never considered having one that relates to my job until I attended an amazing presentation by Silvia Tolisano on Thursday. She presented at my beginning of the school year professional learning day and demonstrated some of the cool things online that we can use to better engage students.  The students we have today are not the students we were.  They communicate and learn in different ways than we have/do.  We have to keep up or become irrelevant.  She also stressed the importance of having a professional network.  I loved every second of it and now am on the journey to create my own professional network.

So here I am.  Let’s see how it goes :).

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