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by Erica Fischer on Jan 23, 2018

Maximizing Learning at the Beginning and End of Class


In this discussion, #langchat teachers proposed many ways to make the beginning and ending of world language classes more engaging and effective. Participants also shared their transition techniques that allow them to optimize learning during their class times.

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Using the Beginning of Class to Spark Learner Enthusiasm

#Langchat teachers discussed how to capture their students’ attention as soon as they walk into the classroom. @SenorG said, “Get weird. Be unexpected. Sometimes ‘activate prior learning’ and other times just shoot for a hook.” The more creative, the better! In AP last year I stood at the door to collect a ‘password’ from each student. It was a great way to start each day!” (@MlleSulewski). @Coachbpal shared, “We normally start with a review game of some sort. Something entertaining, yet [it] gets the job done as it relates to recalling info.” @Ginlindzey said, “We do jobs which rotate that include reading the agenda, date (includes yesterday, today, tomorrow), the weather, & school news.” The beginning of class can be the most impactful. @Marishawkins said, “I start with important input to have it sink in the most, so sometimes a song or reading.”

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Routines to Help Balance Business and Linguistic Benefit at the Beginning of Class

The beginning of class can often look like a balancing act between business and jumping into language acquisition. @ADiazMora starts class by “asking how everyone is in [the target language] and looking around to take attendance by the [students’] responses.” Many teachers use the beginning moments of class to lay out the objectives and schedule for the rest of the period. @Madamednmichael said, “I have lessons and instructions posted on SMART board and Classroom in both languages, plus follow routine.” @SECottrell shared, “We have a question jar, which helps start off class in the [target language] if I still have to prep.”

Go-to Beginning-of-Class Activities

Langchat participants collaborated on their go-to activities to start off the class.

  • “The beginning of class sets tone and purpose for the rest of the time. Love creating experiences, surprises, sense-based learning” (@tmsaue1).
  • @ADiazMora includes “weekend talks on Monday and then depending on unit, maybe pictures to spark interest.”
  • @SECottrell uses “a song, especially with #earlylang! Especially if they’ve come in from recess!”
  • @MmeBlouwolff advised, “Share an #authres (preferably video) and [students] complete some sort of processing guide.”
  • @tmsaue1 reminded everyone that the “beginning of the class is truly PRIME TIME for new learning. It’s a great time to focus on input activities.”
  • @senoraMThomas shared, “I have my [students] copy the learning target so they can self-evaluate end-of-class during that time also.”

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Transitioning Smoothly from Opening Activity, into Middle and Close

Good transitions can preserve time in class. By posting my agenda, students know what to expect so it makes transitioning smoother” (@Marishawkins). @ACWLteach shared, “sometimes the best transition is abrupt, not smooth, to keep it fresh.” Elementary Spanish teacher @Kellycondon said, “I may use a brain break or movement activity to break up activities.” @ADiazMora makes smooth transitions by keeping an eye on the time, adding that “sometimes timers on the screen” are useful.

(For the summary of a 2015 #langchat on smooth transitions, click here.)

How to End Class and Assess Student Learning While Building Excitement

#Langchat teachers continued to discuss closing transitions and how to bring excitement for future classes.

  • @Meganclaire87 admitted, “in a 48-minute lesson solid closure is a struggle. Students share their class work and we talk about what makes it successful.”
  • @Oraib_Mango likes to “recap or allow student reflection and feedback and a glimpse of next class.”
  • @AHSblaz ends class with a “ticket out! The last [five minutes] are second-best learning time & [students are] most highly motivated (to leave😉) so I pick the thing I most want to reinforce.”
  • @MlleSulewski said, “If I notice they’re getting squirrely at the end/packing up early, I’ll whisper something important, so they pay attention, ha!”
  • @AHSblaz also uses “exit humor! Weirdest relative, ask next [students] a riddle (written earlier) or give a compliment to next [student] in line.”

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Thank You

Thank you to everyone who participated in the #langchat on Maximizing Learning at the Beginning and End of Class. A special thank you to our lead moderator Colleen, @CoLeeSensei, for her thoughtful leadership and contribution!


Elementary in Spanish
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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