First Days of Spanish Class Part 1: Building Relationships

First Days of Spanish Class Part 1:  Building Relationships

It's almost Back to School time, so today I am starting a series on what to do during the first several days of Spanish class.  I'm going to talk about a few elements to include during the first few days of school and ideally you would use a mixture of these elements each day.

Part 1:  Relationship Building
The last high school where I taught before making the transition to WAHM was quite an amazing school.  Our principal had founded the school based on the Patch Adams philosophy.  If you are familiar with that movie, you may recall this great quote:

First Days of Spanish Class Part 1:  Building Relationships

Our principal applied this same philosophy to teaching:  If you teach the curriculum, you win, you lose.  If you teach the student, I guarantee you'll win.  Part of our initiation as new teachers included receiving a red clown nose like Patch Adams and watching a few inspirational scenes from the movie.  We had a retreat where all teachers did an "Amazing Race" type road trip and we spent the day finding lots of landmarks and interesting places in rural Georgia.  

We were encouraged to spend most of our first days of school doing relationship-building activities instead of teaching much material.  So my first tip for the first days of Spanish class (or any class!) would be to get to know your students and build relationships!

Here are a few ideas:

The Name Game - I have a soft spot in my heart for this game ever since I played it in my first college English class.  Little did I know that Katherine shopping for kangaroos (me!) and Mario shopping for mustard (my husband!) would soon fall in love!  As hard as it may be to learn over 100 names, it will really make a difference when students know that you've taken the time and effort to learn their names. 
How to play:  Each student thinks of something that starts with the same letter as their name.  You can choose objects, but I personally like to do it with adjectives that describe the students.  So student 1 would say, "I'm Allyson and I'm artistic.  Then the subsequent students would say everyone before them and then themselves.  Ex. Student 2:  She's artistic Allyson.  I'm Nicki and I'm nice.  Student 3:  She's artistic Allyson, she's nice Nicki.  I'm Tiffany and I'm terrific! and so on.  I can almost guarantee that some of these nicknames will stick in addition to the names!

Would You Rather
How to play:  give students two different scenarios to choose from.  They can either raise their hand to indicate their choice, or move to a particular side of the room.  Ex.  Would you rather be rich and ugly or good looking and poor?  Have students move to the left of the room if they would rather be rich and ugly or they can move to the right of the room if they would rather be good looking and poor.  You can find thousands of questions by searching "Would You Rather Questions" on Google or you can buy card sets like these.  I also have this set of FREE ¿Qué preferirías? questions completely in Spanish!  They come with task cards and questions that you can project on the board.

¿Qué Preferirías? FREE Ice Breaker Questions in Spanish

Likes Activity
Similar to the Would You Rather? Questions, you can designate one side of the room for Me Gusta and another side for No Me Gusta.  Then call out or show words in Spanish for foods, animals, etc.  For beginner students, you can use cognates to be able to stay in the target language.  For each item, have students go to the side of the room based on whether they like the item or not.

Two Truths, One Lie 
How to play:  have students write down 3 things about themselves with two being truths and another a lie.  The truths would ideally be things that are hard to believe and the lie would ideally be something that would be easy to believe.  Have them read the 3 "facts" and have the other students guess which is the lie.  You will find out some very interesting things about your students!

About Me Infographic
Learn all about your students with this about me infographic activity.  You can download it for FREE here.  Have students complete these in Spanish or in English for beginner students.  You can display these around the classroom for students to learn about each other.

Mi Verano Activity
You can tell a lot about your students based on how they spent their summer!  With this My Summer Activity, students tell where they went, what they did, what they ate, who they spent time with, give adjectives to describe their summer, and tell what the most like about summer.  You can use the Spanish version for upper levels and the English version for beginners.  Bonus:  It also comes with an End of the Year version where students can talk about their upcoming summer plans using a different verb tense.  You could do both and have students compare the 2 to see how their plans and Spanish knowledge have changed through the school year.

Get to Know You Ball Activity
I found this awesome idea on Pinterest!  
How to play:  Take a ball and write "Get to Know You" Questions on it. Toss the ball to a student and have them read the question that is closest to their left thumb, right index finger, etc.  Then they would share their answer to that question and toss the ball to another classmate.  The source of this activity also listed the 52 questions she used on her blog.
                                                 First Days of Spanish Class Part 1:  Building Relationships

Get to Know You Task Cards
These Back to School Task Cards have 28 questions in both English (for beginning Spanish I or other subjects) and Spanish (for upper levels) as well as an editable template to add your own questions.  
How to play:  Print out task cards, cut them out and place a card on each desk.  Using the response sheet, students record the answer to the question on their desk.  Then students can either pass the card in a designated direction or play Scoot where they move to the next desk and answer the question on that desk.  You could also post the task cards around your classroom to get students moving even more!  When they are done, you'll have a response sheet filled with all kinds of information about your students!  You can post these for students to read and include your own.  I also suggest reading through these and making some mental notes about your students' answers, especially things that they have in common with you.  A simple "Did you hear Ariana Grande's new song?!" "Can you believe who got evicted from Big Brother last night?" or "That's my favorite book too!" will go a long way in making connections with students.
First Days of Spanish Class Part 1:  Building Relationships

Meet Your Teacher Brochure
Don't forget to help students learn about you!  In addition to creating a teacher version of some of the ideas above, you can also use these Meet Your Teacher Brochures!  These are great to pass out to students and parents on Meet the Teacher Night, Curriculum Night, or the first day of school.  They can learn about your background and life outside of the classroom.  Plus, it never hurts for parents to know your favorite stores and foods when they are thinking about teacher appreciation gifts! ;)  Theses are completely editable and are available in English and Spanish or a bundle of both.

I hope you were able to get some great relationship-building ideas!  If you have others, please post them in the comments!  Now head on over to First Days of Spanish Part 2:  Rules and Procedures!

Adding Culture to Your Spanish Class

Teaching Culture with Cultura Diaria:  Daily Culture Facts for Each Day of Spanish Class

Are you looking for ways to add culture to your Spanish class?   Are you passionate about Hispanic culture and want to share that passion with your students?  Do you value the importance of teaching culture but are unsure of how to "fit" it into your already-packed curriculum?  Let me tell you about how I was able to accomplish adding more meaningful culture to my Spanish classes.

I was in this dilemma about 8 years ago.  I was passionate about all things culture-related and struggled with how to share everything I love about Hispanic culture with my students while also teaching vocabulary, practicing grammar, and working on understanding and communicating in the target language.

I came up with the idea to teach a culture fact each day of the school year.  I made a list of countries, holidays, celebrations, and other topics I wanted to cover.  Every Friday during my planning period, I would look up 5 interesting facts for each topic to teach for the following week and I would find a couple of relevant photos or short video clips.  I learned so many interesting things from my research!  I ended up with a Word document with facts and another Word document of photos that looked like this:
Teaching Culture with Cultura Diaria:  Daily Culture Facts for Each Day of Spanish ClassTeaching Culture with Cultura Diaria:  Daily Culture Facts for Each Day of Spanish Class

I had a small white board in my class where I would write the Cultura Diaria each day.  Students would come into class and start copying the Cultura Diaria while I checked attendance and handled any other housekeeping tasks.  Because it was on the board when they entered the classroom, they knew exactly what to do and I didn't have to spend time trying to settle them down to start class.  We would have a brief (1-2 minute) discussion where I would show them the photos I had printed and/or show a quick video clip.  For example, one of the facts for Argentina is "The modern-day tango orginated and was popularized in Argentina" so I would show a quick video clip of 2 people dancing the tango.

Students wrote their Cultura Diaria in a separate section of their notebook.  To keep them accountable for copying the Cultura Diaria each day, I would give them a quarterly open-note quiz over the Cultura Diaria.  If they had copied them all, it was an easy 100 for them.

My Cultura Diaria evolved when I finally got a classroom with an LCD projector!  Instead of having to hand-write the daily fact on the whiteboard, I made a PowerPoint presentation.  Since making 170 slides is a big task, once again I broke it up and on Fridays created my 5 slides for the next week. This is what they looked like:

Teaching Culture with Cultura Diaria:  Daily Culture Facts for Each Day of Spanish ClassTeaching Culture with Cultura Diaria:  Daily Culture Facts for Each Day of Spanish Class

These were easier to read and once the presentation was done, I was able to use it for the following years without any additional work!  

Recently, I came up with another idea to make the Cultura Diaria even more meaningful and useful. I decided to add relevant photos to the backgrounds of each slide.  It was a long process of using my own photographs, finding and buying other images, and changing all of the fonts so that they were easy to read on the slide.  It was a lot of work, but I think they turned out great:

Teaching Culture with Cultura Diaria:  Daily Culture Facts for Each Day of Spanish ClassTeaching Culture with Cultura Diaria:  Daily Culture Facts for Each Day of Spanish Class

Teaching Culture with Cultura Diaria:  Daily Culture Facts for Each Day of Spanish ClassTeaching Culture with Cultura Diaria:  Daily Culture Facts for Each Day of Spanish Class

Teaching Culture with Cultura Diaria:  Daily Culture Facts for Each Day of Spanish ClassTeaching Culture with Cultura Diaria:  Daily Culture Facts for Each Day of Spanish Class

Because this Cultura Diaria is something I'm so proud of and something that I believe to be effective for teaching culture and for classroom management, I decided to offer it in my Teachers Pay Teachers store so that other teachers and students can benefit from it as well.  It is now my best-selling and highest-rated product.  

Here's what the Cultura Diaria includes:
-170 Hispanic culture facts (5 facts for each topic).  Topics include:  Why learn Spanish?, 20 Spanish-speaking countries, Hispanic Heritage Month, Día de la Raza, Día de los Muertos, Navidad, Año Nuevo, Día del Amor y la Amistad, Semana Santa, quinceañeras, matrimonios, famous Hispanic artists and authors
-4 quizzes (2 versions each)
-Instructions and suggestions for use
-NEW:  Video links for 80 of the culture facts (added 11/2015)

If you'd like to start using Cultura Diaria in your classroom, you can check it out here

11/2015 UPDATE
I originally created the Cultura Diaria with my Spanish I students so I made it in English.  I got so many requests for an all-Spanish version and I finally got it done!  It includes the same facts and images as the English version, but all of the facts and quizzes are in Spanish.  You can check it out by clicking the image below.

You can find both versions in a discounted bundle here:

UPDATE 12/11/2015
Today I received the 100th feedback on the English version of Cultura Diaria!  It's so encouraging to hear how this resource has helped so many teachers add culture to their Spanish classes and help start their classes off on the right foot!  Here are some of my favorites:

You can also save this idea for later by pinning any of the images in this post.  If you have any questions about Cultura Diaria, please ask me in the comments!

The Best Trip I've Ever Taken

After the whirlwind that was the Teachers Pay Teachers conference, I'm trying to get back into the swing of blogging.  I'm linking up again this week with Monica from I Heart Grade 3 for her summer weekly blogging topics.  I was so excited to meet Monica at the conference!  Thank you for introducing yourself, Monica!  It was great to meet you face to face after learning so much about you from these link ups!

So this week's topic is The Best Trip I've every taken!  This is an easy decision but not an easy one to write about because we did so much on this trip!  In 2010 my husband and I were thinking that kids were on the horizon for us.  So we decided it was the right time to take what we refer to as "the trip of a lifetime."  Now I really hope we can take more trips like this in our lifetime, and how awesome would it be to experience a trip like this with our boys!?

We booked a Mediterranean cruise and I immediately started preparing!  I had a notebook with our itinerary, metro maps, train schedules, and even a pocket Italian book.  With only one day in each port, we had to maximize our time!

We first flew into Barcelona where we spent 2 days exploring the city.  Then our cruise went from Barcelona to Monaco/Nice, Pisa/Florence, Rome, Pompeii/Sorrento, and Palma Mallorca.  Despite our limited time in each port, we were able to see almost all of the major tourist stops in each city.  It was an amazing vacation and we loved every minute of it!  Here are just a few (of over 1000!) photos of us from our trip:
Parc Guell in Barcelona

Monte Carlo from the ship



Palma Mallorca, Spain



This trip sparked a love of cruising for us and we've been on many more cruises since.  It is a joy to cruise with our boys and they love it just as much as we do.  The amazing history and the amount that we experienced in this 10-day trip definitely makes it our best trip so far.  I really hope we can cruise to Europe again soon!
Click on the image below to read more!