I just started teaching many of my students in person. I didn’t even know some of them because I was just assigning lessons to their grade through Seesaw and Otus (the Learning Management System used by the school where I teach). I have seen others quite a bit during our Zoom classes, as they have been participating in the home learning program which includes live (synchronous) classes.
When I started teaching more of the students in person in January, I had the opportunity to rethink many of my lessons and also connect to what the homeroom teachers have been doing in their classes. Students across several grades have read the book “Your Name is a Song” by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, and I have seen it frequently in the library. I have always loved the title of this book and decided to read it myself and find ways to incorporate it in class. I’m sure what I’m sharing here is not new and that many teachers inspired by the title of this book have asked their students to create songs with their names. I have used this activity with grades K through 5, and, to my pleasant surprise, the upper elementary students really enjoy singing their names.
I never change my students’ names in Spanish class for various reasons: (1) I want them to be respectful of other people’s names and not using them as something they can appropriate; (2) I love hearing my students say their names; and (3 because our names are part of who we are!
I must confess that I sometimes have a hard time pronouncing some of my students’ names, but I let them know that I need to hear them say it again and try really hard to say their names the way they pronounce them. This can be especially challenging for me because I tend to use my (occasionally thick!) Spanish accent while pronouncing their names. But I think it is really important for them to hear me facing a challenge and for them learn to hear my Spanish accent with English words, and to make a special effort to listen and understand English that has a different cadence and sound. I think that maybe it even builds greater empathy and tolerance.
I have been using a simple activity where I choose a student volunteers, and, as a group, we ask the question in the picture using some American Sign Language (ASL) from YouTube tutorials.
What’s your name?
For the part that says “¡Me gusta tu nombre!”, we make the heart shape with our hands.
And for the part that says “¡Es una canción!,” we use the following sign:
And then the student sings a song with his/her name.
Using this activity has been beautiful and a great way to connect with students!