Yes! The title sounds a little bit redundant, but we all have our own “ritualitos” (little rituals) that we do in every class. I have been teaching for over 17 years now, and my experience is mostly in the United States as a Spanish teacher in a FLES (Foreign Language in Elementary School) program. Back when I was a PreK/First grade teacher in Colombia, I rarely felt that I was getting into a routine, which I equated with a rut or “getting bored” of doing the same things in class over and over. And while teaching in a world language program means you need to have a lot of repetition to help your students retain the language, this doesn’t mean you have to do the same thing every class!
When teaching in a world language program at the elementary level, we have to make sure we provide a sense of routine in the class to create a safe space for the children. I strongly believe in teaching in the target language as much as you can, which means having to use the language a lot and at the proficiency level of your students. This can sometimes limit the amount of activities you can do to vary your routine.
Here is a list of routines I do in my class. Please feel free to add more in the comments below! I would love to hear yours! I always start my class with the “Plan de la clase” which tells my students what will be happening in class. I go over it with them and keep it very simple. This also can eliminate the stress in some of the anxious students who need to know what will be happening in class.
This is an example of how it might look depending on the grade level. The message below is for a second grade class, and I see them only twice a week for a 40-minute period each time. You can decide how to have the class read it. You can have one volunteer read the message or the whole class may read it together.
Plan de la clase 1. Saludos: ¡Hola! ¿Qué tal? 2. El calendario 3. Canción: La familia sapo 4. ¡Vamos a jugar!: Pasa la bola 5. Describe a tu familia: ¿Cómo es tu familia? 6. Tiquete de salida Since greetings are a key aspect of world language classes, here are some ideas to greet your students: 1. Try to change the greetings. One day you can use ¿Como estás? and then the other day “¿Qué tal?”. 2. You can pass a ball to students in class and ask the question yourself. You can give turns to the children to respond and then pass the ball to the next person, and the child who responded will take a turn asking.
3. You can divide the class in pairs where one student asks then the other responds and vice versa.
4. You can divide the class into teams, one side answers and the other responds.
5. You can use puppets and let your students improvise their greetings for the class.
6. Play music in the classroom, have your students dance to the music, stop the music and choose a volunteer to greet the class. For example, “clase, ¿cómo estás?”
7. Place a picture of a famous person or movie character with information about themselves (see picture below). You can read this information to your students, then give turns for them to introduce themselves to the character or famous person by sharing the same information. See more here!
Another option is creating a short video using Morpho Booth. Warning! Some of your young students might think that this is creepy. My third graders love it!
8. Place a simple picture that your students will have to use to complete their face. They can take turns doing this. Download the picture here!
9. Start with a Zumba or dancing routine to get everyone into the Spanish mood.
10. Use “brain breaks” during the routine or any time you see your students need help focusing and tuning again into class.
11. Read the days of the week with a feeling for each day. Find the picture here!
12. Make your calendar interactive. If you have an interactive board or a projector, a computer connected to the internet, take advantage of it and add a cultural/geographic aspect comparing seasons, temperatures and weather to your calendar. My students always love guessing what the temperature could be like in Colombia or any other Spanish-speaking country. See video below!
To add a more adventurous part, take a trip to any of the Spanish-speaking countries using Google Earth! Also check out my “Facebook Corner” for more ideas on routines for Spanish class!
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 these 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.