First Day Notes

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9 thoughts on “First Day Notes”

  1. This is so helpful! Thank you.
    I’m looking for ideas to help with needing to display posters in both French and Spanish in my room. Should I just split the room in half and train kids which side has their language?
    I have double-sided question-word posters that students are willing to help me flip over at the end or beginning of class.
    As far as the light to signal TL only-use–I saw on someone’s blog that they used a string of Christmas lights around the board.

    1. Love the Christmas lights idea!
      Personally I would flip the posters and limit how many you put up in the first month. That is the crucial time – Rules, jGR (if you use it) and Question Words. The problem would be in flipping the question words through the day because there are so many but I believe if that kid is willing to do it it would be worth it. I wouldn’t want to teach in a room with half Spanish and French posters up all over the place.

      1. Yeah, that’s my biggest gripe about teaching two languages. My biggest gripe used to be trying to organize two sets of “resources” (textbooks and worksheets! so many worksheets!) but TCI takes care of that!
        My prep is also, of course, super simplified. Right now I have 6th grade Spanish, 7th grade French, 8th grade French, and 8th grade Spanish, and we’re all reading BB wants a dog.
        For ten-question quick quizzes, I randomly pick a pattern of yes/no answers in the first class, use that same pattern for all the other classes and just make up T/F sentences that go with those answers when I’m giving the quiz (I’m not ready to ask/trust a student to make the quiz). Just one answer key for eight classes in three different grades in two different languages!
        <3 <3 <3
        p.s. I successfully lobbied for a simpler schedule (with looping!) so next year I'll just have 6th grade French and 7th grade Spanish, so there will be less flipping of question word posters. 🙂

        1. … one answer key for eight classes in three different grades in two different languages!….
          This is major. If you don’t use a quiz writer you follow a pattern of the same answers being yes or no in each class. We have to do things like this, get creative with work, throw out quizzes if we don’t need them and/or are swamped with organizing the prom, etc. Our mental health comes first. This career of teaching in general has for far too long been dominated by teachers who think they are being “tough” when nobody cares. They make up different answer sheets for major tests at great expense of their time, yet they do it to catch cheaters. It’s a big game of “Gotcha!” They would rather find a kid lacking than find out what they can do. That small-mindedness and test driven instruction is something most of us here are just done with. We have figured out that our jobs can be fun and rewarding and we have found a way to reach kids. We give easy tests but that doesn’t mean our kids don’t learn. They learn far more with those easy tests. We build a sense of being a team in our classes. The old sense of opposition that splits teachers from kids is greatly diminished in our classrooms. We teach for the kid’s growth, not the gradebook. We are so different than that old guard of tighty whities who so much need to be the star of the room, and the controller, and the decider.

  2. I got rid of everything on walls except question words and colours (word in Spanish, in the colour), and the rules.
    Ben’s idea about a listening quiz almost right away is good: sets the tone and should be easy for all the kids who are payng attention.

  3. I, too, teach two languages and I don’t like having to hang posters in my room for each! But I have no choice and I’m lucky to have a classroom. So, what I have done this year is split my room in two and the posters are color coded. One side of the room is Spanish and the other is Italian. I also have a two big signs in the back of my room that simply say “Italian” and “Spanish, each with an arrow pointing in the appropriate direction. It’s worked well this year and I haven’t had any students that confused them. I guess they get used to where they are. I got rid of my posters for a couple days recently because I was making bigger and brighter ones and the kids freaked out. They absolutely love the posters!
    Also, the light and “pagame” (pay me) system has worked so well for me! I didn’t implement it until January but the kids all accepted it and it definitely eliminated any blurting. I gave my classes an exit survey yesterday and many said that they actually liked the light! Also, it allowed for great reps on “The light is off/on”, the light was off/on”, the light “will be off/on in 5 seconds”. The kids say these sentences without me even asking in all three verb tenses because they hear it all the time!

    1. Hiya Keri,
      I’ve come to the conversation a bit late – could you explain the light system real quick for me, please? I teach 6/7th graders and I too have found they respond well to environmental signals.

      1. Hi, Jason! Sorry I just saw your question now!
        I have a small closet light attached to my front board. When it’s on, the kids actually get penalized for using English, for not being proactive to tell me they don’t understand something with some sort of sign, and for being off task for about a minute or more (no eye contact, etc.) It may sound a bit harsh at first, but it works! In fact, a lot of kids commented on my exit survey that they actually liked it! I was a bit surprised myself. They said it really kept them on their toes. There is also no blurting at all and the kids know that they are held responsable and really do not want to lose participation points. When the light is on, I use Blaine’s “Pay me” system. If you’re not familiar with it then I could explain. Basically, if there is an infraction I say the student’s name “Joe, pay me” (in the TL of course) and they give me one of their cards worth 5 points. (They know to take the cards out when the light comes on. And it is not a distraction.)
        Just to make it clear, we speak the TL even when the light is off but I feel that it may be a bit too tense for the kids, and maybe even myself, to be able to take away a card from them for a full 84 minutes. I’m not sure. I am contemplating myself now for the fall if I should do away with the light and implement the system every minute of every class (or keep the light on ALL class) It sounds ideal but I don’t think I will. Any ideas are welcome! Right now the light comes on when we are about the enter the land of make believe: PQA! (This happens practically every day in my class…it’s the best part, in my opinion, of this work!)

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