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Activities to Foster Class Routines

Activities to Foster Class RoutinesOn June 7, participants were asked, “Which kinds of activities foster good class routines?” Participants shared how they like to begin and end their classes with certain activities, as well as how they smooth out the transition between activities during class. Everyone came away with lots of great ideas! Let’s see what some participants had to say!

Start-of-Class Activities

Beginning each class period with the same routine can help students re-focus in the target language. Participants had lots of fun ideas to signal the switch from L1 to L2 learning and to get them excited about the day’s upcoming activities.

  • @placido uses songs in the target language as a daily warm-up.
  • @CoLeeSensei starts her class periods by giving the date, weather, and word of the day, all in the target language.
  • @SraCasey tries to make sure she has a visual displayed for students to see before the bell rings; it sets the tone for the day and gives her time to take attendance.
  • @nickithompson likes to turn down the lights and play Spanish music at the start of class, which she says puts her students “in the Spanish mood.”
  • @SrtaLisa has her students write and manipulate objects on the interactive whiteboard at the start of the day. Participants agreed that students especially love using their own personal whiteboards!
  • @CoLeeSensei likes to start the day with some discussion in the target language, and an activity based on the previous night’s homework.

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Weekly Routines

Many participants organized their weeks around certain activities to help students learn what to expect and to give them things to look forward to.

  • On Mondays, @placido and her students talk about what they did over the weekend. To help out her lower-level students, she gives them a vocabulary help sheet so that they can express themselves in more detail.
  • @Marishawkins likes to use songs on Fridays as a relaxed way to end the school week.
  • @profesorM picks a song of the week, and plays it every day until the following week.
  • @placido gives her students time for 5-10 of sustained silent reading a few times a week. This gives her students time to enjoy her large Spanish language library.

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Dividing Class Time Into Segments

With so many great activity ideas, it can be difficult to decide how to divide up a class period. Participants shared their strategies for how to allot time for each activity.

  • @darcypippins splits her class time into three 15-minute activities, with the majority of time being spent giving target language input. She tries to change activities often enough to keep students on their toes!
  • @trescolumnae tries to change activities every 5-10 minutes, sometimes more frequently, although he finds this to be a challenge with a 95 minute class block.
  • @SraCasey aims for 5-7 activities in a 42 minute class period, while @placido likes to focus on just 3-5 activities during a 60 minute class.

Making Smooth Transitions Between Activities

With multiple activities planned for a single class period, it can be difficult to ensure smooth transitions without losing precious time. @laprofe46 and @SrtaLisa suggested playing a song or using a some sort of bell or percussion instrument to signal to students that they are about to switch tasks.

Many participants find it helpful to assign students certain jobs in the classroom. @nickithompson has one student mark participation points, one student pass out materials, and one student collect them at the end of an activity. She changes these helpers each weeks, and lets student volunteer for these roles. @trescolumnae changes helpers for each new activity, with the old helper picking the new one.

Establishing methods and routines for certain activities, like passing out papers and taking quizzes, can save lots of class time by ensuring smooth transitions. @placido and @SraCasey stressed the importance of having a set way of doing things in the classroom, and maintaining this method. @nickithompson, for example, has helpers who collect and pass out materials silently while she explains the next activity.

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Winding Down, Wrapping Up: End-of-Class Activities

Finally, participants shared how they like to end class periods with their students.

    • @trescolumnae likes to bring all his student together for wrap-up after small group activities.
    • @CoLeeSensei does a ‘recap’ of what was learned in class that day and gives a preview of what will be done the next day.
    • @SrtaLisa has students toss around a soft toy; as it gets passed around, students either say something summarizing the day or re-tell a story in the target language.
    • @profesorM lets his students play “around the world” at the end of class.
    • If there a few minutes left at the end of class, @darcypippins likes to show “Pocoyo en espanol” videos on YouTube.

Thank you to all of our participants for sharing your insights! And a special thanks to our moderators, @placido and @SECottrell.

Keep suggesting more great topics for future #LangChat discussions! And please join us next Thursday 8pmEST (5pm PST) for another exciting #LangChat!

#LangChat is an independent group of world-language education professionals who come together every week via Twitter to share ideas and discuss pressing issues in the world of education. Check out the #LangChat wiki for more information about our goals and the team behind it all here. These weekly discussion summaries are sponsored by Calico Spanish as a service to the world-language community.

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Erica Fischer
Erica is the founder and CEO of Calico Spanish. Her passion for teaching her own children to speak Spanish led her to create Calico Spanish. Our mission is to give all children the opportunity to learn to speak real Spanish for life.

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