This post contains ways to use your students as curriculum in an effort to reduce anxiety and to have fun during this abnormal school year.
This school year, now more than ever, my students are my curriculum. I do not care if we don’t get through everything that I have planned nor finish any books, readings, units that we are doing. It is all about communication, providing language acquisition opportunities, lowering anxiety, making students smile and laugh, and having as much fun as we can. For example, if there is not enough time to get to a story that I planned because we were talking about what people did over the weekend, that is perfectly fine with me! I want my students to feel comfortable, to enjoy themselves, and acquire some Spanish along the way.
This school year more than ever: my students are my curriculum. I don’t care if we don’t get through nor finish everything. It is all about communication, providing acquisition opportunities and lowering anxiety
— Dustin Williamson (@williamson_ci) September 16, 2020
There are several ways (some you probably already know about) that I have done to keep the anxiety low and the fun compelling input high. Here are several activities that have worked well for me so far this school year (we are hybrid with half the students in class and the other half at home doing remote work).
Student Interviews: Star of the day interviews are super compelling and I really enjoy doing them. You can find information about student interviews at Bryce Hedstrom’s website. Kara Jacobs also has some great materials for this as well on her website.
I always take the information from the interviews, create a reading slideshow with photos, and we read about the student. It is nice too when the student sends you photos to include.
Weekend Chats: I also love hearing about my students’ weekend and what they did. We also talk about what they will do during the weekend on Fridays. There are many ways to scaffold this activity. For example, in Spanish 2 early in the year I ask the class in Spanish: who went to a restaurant? In Spanish 3, I project specific questions about the weekend and see who did what. In Spanish 4, I just ask what did you do? In each class, I scaffold less as the year goes on. You can find resources for the weekend chat HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.
How Many People….: This activity came from Bryan Kandel and it has been a favorite so far. I project 10 activities and for each one, students write down how many of their classmates did the activity. Then we find out the actual number and they write down the difference from their guess and the actual number. Then we talk about each one. In my Spanish 4 class this year, I had activities that people would do since we are using the conditional. In Spanish 3, I had activities that people did over the summer. Here are some examples: HOW MANY PEOPLE DURING THE SUMMER… | HOW MANY PEOPLE WOULD….. | HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE ……
Card Talk: In Spanish 2, I have my students draw an activity that they did over the summer and then I talk about them in comprehensible language. In Spanish 4, I have them draw what they would do if they were another person and then we talk about them. In Spanish 1, students can draw their favorite activity to do. I always create a reading slideshow based on the information for the next class.
I also like to recap the information that we talked about in a fun way. I re-tell the information but purposely make mistakes. When I make a mistake (or when the sentence is false) the entire class stomps their feet. The engagement is always high and this formative assessment is fun for all.
2 Truths and a Lie: This one is a classic and always a hit. Students write 2 truths and a lie about themselves in the target language (scaffold as needed) and we all guess which one is a lie. I like to talk about their truths and ask them questions to get more details. In upper levels, I ask if the student would do their lie.
Getting to know you: Students write the answer to the following questions on a card and do NOT share answers with others:
1) what is one thing you never want to eat
2) what is you dream vacation
3) what are you afraid of
4) who is one person you would like to have dinner with
5) If you were me, what would you do?
I collect them, put them in sets of five, and write the names of those five people. I read the cards and they write or say which of five people they think it is. Since my classes are much smaller this year (only half of the class) I don’t put them in sets and they just have to say who they think it is. We go over each set and each correct answer is one point. Here is the SLIDESHOW to project.