An Interactive Student Notebook is nothing more than a regular notebook, but it’s organized in a specific way that helps students keep track of all the content we explore in class. For older students, their ISN requires them to have a table of contents, numbered pages, and space for teachers to add notes. Also, there are lots of hands-on, independent enrichment activities peppered throughout for students to explore at their own pace or at home (e.g. to cut and paste, color, match words, etc.). Since I teach Spanish at the lower school and don’t see my students with much frequency, I have adapted this tool to use more simply. We keep songs, make games, write short paragraphs and make it interesting for students to feel proud of their own work. At the end, it’s their own creation they can be proud of and feel a sense of ownership.
Interactive Student Notebooks have been a life saver for me and wonderful teaching tool at the elementary school level. I started using them last year and created mine along with my students and aligned it with my own curriculum –take a peak inside it!
There are a lot of benefits to using Interactive Student Notebooks in a world language class at the elementary level. Here are a few I have found while using them in my classes:
1. Easy to keep organized: I’ve found Interactive Notebooks are an easy way to keep my students organized. I used to have binders for my second and third graders, and it became chaotic for them to handle and keep them in order. Interactive Notebooks provide a space where everything we do in class is kept in one place.
2. High motivation for students: Students are more engaged in class and constantly ask when they can take their notebooks home. I include hands on activities, lyrics of songs we’ve learned, and games!
3. Good communication with your students’ parents: Spanish notebooks help children keep track of their own learning and exploration in class. Many of the activities in the Interactive Notebook should be engaging such as games, puzzles, memory games, and so on.
Provide space during the school year for students to take their notebook home to share with parents what we’ve done in class – this helps parents feel more connected with their children’s learning and allows you to educate them since, in most cases, this kind of second language learning is much different than their experience.
4. A resource for the summer: When the school year is over, children will have a resource they have created and can take home to practice over the summer.
5. You will love it! Just make sure you have the materials required for the fun. I use regular composition books and glue sticks.
I am really happy to welcome all the new teachers! Thank you for spreading the love of learning a new language in your school community and to your students!
Planning is one of the most important aspects to ensuring a successful class over the course of a school year. Of course, getting to know your school community and the needs of your students are intimately tied to this part of the teaching process. You also need to be clear regarding what kind of language program your school wants to develop or has in place so that you tailor it to the demand and expectations appropriately. In many cases, we language teachers are in charge of planning our class 100% while building a curriculum from scratch, especially since textbooks at the elementary level have limited applicability for a natural approach to language teaching and learning.
In over fifteen years of teaching languages to children, I have found that planning a week in advance for the following week works perfectly and gives me time to assess the material, reflect on the way I am teaching, and to adapt for my students as needed. Although there are fancy higher tech ways to do this, I’m old school when it comes to planning, choosing to keep it simple. I plan for every day on a single sheet of paper, and by the end of the school year, I have about two big binders with all my lesson plans collected in one place. I re-use this lesson plans the following year, but I create a new binder with changes as I adapt activities year by year.
How to write a lesson plan for a 20-30 minute lesson
Prepare a routine: Make sure you develop a clear routine for your class. A routine doesn’t equate to boredom and doesn’t mean that the activities are always presented in the same way. Creating a routine means creating a space for learners to feel safe about their knowledge and to be ready to switch gears. Prepare two to three elements that are always in your routine, but make sure they can be presented with plenty of variation.
This objective is one objective or piece of an objective drawn from the objectives planned for the entire unit. Remember that a spiral curriculum plan will allow you to come back to your other objectives later. This singular focus helps ensure that your entire lesson is well-targeted and clear. It’s the foundation for all that you do with your students.
Includes your routine (calendar, weather, birthdays, etc). Singing or playing a game related to the routine or theme of study helps students warm-up for your lesson and creates a positive environment.
The activity is the core of your lesson. In this stage of the planning, students will get engage with your theme for the unit. Different strategies are stated here to allow students to accomplish the lesson’s objective. It is important to determine the steps of the activities and to be clear about them to create a confident learning environment. An unclear set of activities will create confusion between students.
This allows you and students to know clearly when a class is over and feel a sense of accomplishment. This ending can be done through a simple game or by reviewing some elements that were explored in the lesson.
In a FLES class, the assessment is mainly done during the progress of the lesson. Try to focus on a few students per lesson, and observe them closely during the development of the lesson.
List all kinds of resources you will need to teach your lesson effectively. This will also help you to prepare in advance and avoid trips to your office during class.
¡Hola! I am Carolina, a Colombian elementary Spanish teacher based in Austin, Texas. Fun for Spanish Teachers is the result of my passion for teaching Spanish to children and my desire to inspire collaboration and creativity in a vibrant teaching and learning community. It’s the perfect stop if you are looking for songs, games, teaching tips, stories, and fun for your classes.