August 11, 2013

More Beginning of School Ideas

Last week we shared a few beginning of school ideas and resources. Here are some more:

Angela from Sheboygan Falls Middle School in Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin, describes the following:

I … do a scavenger hunt for Spanish 1 kids but I have them find things around the room that might be different from a traditional English classroom.
It also helps make them more comfortable in the room and where things are.

Things like...

Can they figure out the date in Spanish? (It is written on the board).
Can they find anything different about the Spanish calendar in the classroom? (Starts on a Monday...)
Can they find the days weather (It is on the weather chart in Spanish)
Can they figure out how to ask "May I go to the bathroom" (also posted on the wall with other frequently asked questions and supporting pictures)
Can they find the recycling and how to say "paper, plastic and garbage" in Spanish (the containers are labeled)
Does your teacher have kids? (pictures on my desk...)
Can they find the daily learning objectives (they are also posted on the board in a special place)
etc, etc, etc....

Re: [nandu] FIRST DAYS OF SCHOOL - HIGH SCHOOL SPANISH. Improving Early Language Programs listserv (, 7 Aug 2013).

An FLTEACH listserv user suggests the following activity with cognates:

I think there is great value in spending a lesson on cognates at the very beginning to activate what students already CAN DO with their chosen language. I'm for anything that lowers the anxiety and makes the students feel "smart" in those first days with their "new" language. It's like the "K" of a KWL activity.....

For the opening activity of my cognate lesson (probably Day 2 of Spanish 1 after reviewing some greetings and taking care of collecting signed forms and other "stuff") is to put up a slide with the Spanish translation of the pledge to the flag. On showing the slide, I instruct students to raise their hand when they recognize these familiar sentences (but don't say anything). Then, I help them identify the words that helped them figure it out. I read it out loud. Let them repeat it with me. Then you can move on to another cognate activity if you want. Make categories and have pairs of students brainstorm words of Spanish origin they already know. Categories can include foods, place names, geographical terms, people, animals etc. You can give a sample in each category to get the juices flowing (enchilada, Nevada, río, señorita, coyote). Pairs can share their words out loud or go around and write them on chart papers around the room by categories. You can finish up by showing various groups of cognates - ask students to illustrate the words to show meaning and creating some basic rules for recognizing cognates (-ty = -dad), etc. The old AMSCO Primer libro had a great two page lesson on cognates appropriate for those first days. Most good texts or references have great lists of cognates.

Heller, B. Re: [FLTEACH] Cognates - Spanish. FLTEACH listserv (FLTEACH@LISTSERV.BUFFALO.EDU, 1 Aug 2013).

Another FLTEACH listserv user uses a treasure hunt:

I send them on a "treasure hunt" where they have to introduce themselves to the custodians (2), the lunch ladies (3), the teachers working lunch duty, two secretaries, the school nurse and two principals. The adults in my building are very supportive, they all know it's coming and the first years have moments of shared pain with their classmates. Often I notice my other levels helping them out too. It is a great ice breaker and they get to know some behind the scenes people. Their treasure hunt paper has a script on it, and blanks for the people greeted to sign off. It's their first grade of the year (10 points) and they seem to really enjoy it. I'll assign it on our first day and they have until Friday to complete the grid.

Freeman, J. Re: [FLTEACH] Encouraging students to participate. FLTEACH listserv (FLTEACH@LISTSERV.BUFFALO.EDU, 8 Aug 2013).

The handout and a copy of an email for staff are available for free download on the Teachers Pay Teachers website at

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