Just like I go through my house and get rid of stuff that I don’t need or love, I like to bring this same philosophy to my class in the new year. You’re almost halfway through the school year so take a look at what’s working and what’s not working and change things up.
This blog post will give you 5 fresh ideas and hopefully some new tools for your teacher tool kit to spice up your classroom and make teaching more fun for you and your students.
All year long, we teach reading, writing, speaking, listening, and grammar, but how often do we teach culture? Culture is fascinating to your students – they love learning about life in other parts of the world.
Traveling and seeing other parts of the world is the best part of learning a language. Obviously, we can’t do that with our students, but we can take them on virtual field trips. Show a short video clip from another country and discuss it with your students each week. Here are two of my favorites:
Making Instruments from Recycled Garbage, 4 min. in Spanish. http://bit.ly/RecycledGarbage
Biblioburro, 5 min. in Spanish with English subtitles. http://bit.ly/-Biblioburro
A man brings books on his burro to educate Colombian communities.
Click here for more ideas about how to use these types of videos in your classroom.
If you’re looking for Spanish video clips, I’ve collected 101 videos for all of the Hispanic countries. Now that’s a lot of culture!
vocabulary that can be drawn (ex. foods).
Assign each student 1-2 pictures of vocabulary words to draw or find
pictures of online (or just use flashcards that you already have). Students paste or draw the pictures on index
cards or cardstock.
balls. Pass out 1-2 vocabulary cards to
each student. Divide the students into
2-3 groups, 8-10 students per group.
each group, one person will be “it” and start with the ball. The other students form a circle around the
person with the ball and hold their pictures out in front of them for everyone
to see. Make sure that each person knows
how to say his/her vocabulary word.
game starts when one of the students in the circle says the vocabulary word on
someone else’s card. That person
must then say the vocabulary word on another person’s card before the person
who is “it” tags them with the ball.
him/her; they must choose someone else. Ex. The person holding “plátano”, can’t say, “fresa”. After the students are really good with one set of vocabulary, have them
switch sets with another group.
the students into pairs or groups of 3.
One person says what they are doing and the other person has to do
his teeth), has to think of something he is doing and respond.
I’m walking my dog, Fido, and whistling.
possible. When someone can no longer think of something to say, the other person wins.
format, encourage your students to say silly sentences.
I’m washing my belly button. I’m
eating my homework. I’m singing my
favorite song in Spanish, etc.
Have students create longer sentences.
ate lots of garlic.
driving my car to school.
painting my toenails green.
Click here for 48 more game ideas.
Okay, okay, I’m kind of kidding with this one. I’m sure some of you have great colleagues, but wouldn’t it be cool to have colleagues from all over the country with lots of new ideas and teaching tips (who won’t take anything personally or judge you).
Share your ideas, classroom woes, or teacher humor in our online teachers’ lounge Facebook group.
Pick one behavior in your class that you’d like to extinguish over the next 6 weeks.
That’s right, just one. So many times, we focus on changing too many things at once and then are successful at none of them. Our poor little brains can’t handle too much change at once.
Come up with a game plan of how you will react when you see that behavior in class. Check out this post on Small Moves to Make Big Changes in Your Classroom and brainstorm possible solutions with other teachers or with your new online colleagues.
Make sure you know exactly what you will do when you see that behavior and be consistent each time.
Once students learn that they will get the same response every time, they will be less likely to repeat the behavior because now you have provided a clear boundary for them.
Be the wall! You can push the wall, hit the wall, and it always has the same response, so pretty soon you stop doing those things because you respect the wall. Be the wall!
Read more details about how to make big moves via small changes here.
If you can get your students speaking in the target language, their learning will increase dramatically. But how, you say? It’s so hard! Here are 2 of my favorite methods:
Write a word on the board at the beginning of the period. Any time you hear ANY English, erase a letter. If the class has any letters left at the end of the period, they each get an extra point on the next test.
Start with a really long word like Tegucigalpa and shorten the word as they get better or lengthen the amount of time that it must stay up. (Idea from Angie Torre).
Each student gets a clothespin to attach to their clothing at the beginning of class. When Student A catches another Student B speaking English, Student A takes Student B’s clothespin.
Award a point for each clothespin at the end of the activity. (10 points = a no homework pass, an extra few points on a quiz, or a pass to pick your seat in class). (Idea from Gail Tuccillo Gillis)
Hope you enjoyed these ideas and that they inspire you to try something new this year. If you have any questions, I’m always up for chatting via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.