Back to school week: Ways to avoid a review

Ways to avoid a review

Day 3 of back to school week!  If you missed day 1, I talked about my first few days worth of lesson plans.  Yesterday, I discussed curriculum changes that I was making from last year and included an outline of what I taught in level 5 last year.  Today, I will share how I skip the review, but still ease students into the new year!

Many times, teachers plan to start each year with a review.  While you do need to evaluate where students are and where they need to go, there are some ways to make it novel and refreshing instead of just review.  Today, I wanted to share some of my favorite ideas to start the year off fresh:

One way to get to know your students through a Special Person or Star of the Day interview.  I love this idea for both level 1 and level 2.  I love the guiding questions that Kara uses.  There are 20 questions, so I normally pick some to include with each student to change it up.  Plus, with these questions, you can go over any topic!  Want to review food?  Ask students about their favorite food or restaurant.  Since we wear uniforms to school, I like to ask students what they like to wear on the weekends.  Many students play sports, so you can ask the sports questions to those students.  I read about this after we had done our interviews, but I either want to do a Write and Discuss with my students or have them write up summaries of each student to hang around the room.

Another big topic for many teachers is to do a card talk at the beginning of the year.  Each student draws something that they like on a card then the teacher asks questions about it and interviews everyone in the class.  I LOVE this for beginners, and I use this with my level 1.  However, I wanted something where I could go a bit more in depth with levels 3 and 5.  I decided that they can draw their best moment from last year or something they are looking forward to this year.  Then, I will ask students questions about it throughout various classes.  I know some teachers can stretch it out for a whole class, but I prefer to do a few each class.  Also, I know that teachers like to give a pre-assessment to determine where students are and what to work on.  This activity can knock out two pre-assessments.  After they draw their picture, I will have them write a summary in Spanish as a free write.  I will then collect them, so I can see any areas that I need to focus on.  I will also be checking in with their speaking during our interviews.

Two years ago, I developed my Netflix unit for my students because they enjoy talking about what shows they watch.  I really enjoyed it, and I used it again this year.  It could easily be used in a level 3 class as well.  I like how you can cover many of the basic topics from level 1: description, action, reading- all in one unit!  You can think of a way to repackage the old themes in a more comprehensive way like this.

In level 3 this year, I plan to start with a novel.  None of my level 3 students have read a novel before, but this year, it will be required.  When you start the year with a novel especially with students who haven’t read a novel before, I suggest using a novel that is easier for students.  I love Señor Wooly’s graphic novels, and I know that they will be a hit and an exciting way to start level 3.  While I plan on using his newest book this year, I am sure that a lot of my plans will be similar to Billy y las botas.  I know many teachers who like to start with the Brandon Brown books because they are so comprehensible and will boost student confidence.

Finally, the last way that I will weave review into our class is through music.  There are so many wonderful songs out there that it can be very easy to find new ones for students each year.  I have mentioned numerous times and to anyone who listens how much I love Kara’s approach to music.  She starts with explaining the song by drawing the story and labeling it on the board when necessary.  I always let students draw the story or take notes if it helps them to pay attention while I am talking.  Then, students are able to watch the video which further provides more understanding for them.  I have used them with both level 1 and 2.  I LOVED how much my students retained from these descriptions and songs.  Sharon Birch who has pretty much always been the queen of music to me has also tried to do some similar ideas with embedded readings with Fiesta by Kalimba.

This year, I wanted to try this with my level 3 students and up.  I have been excited to have the time to really search for some videos that I like and develop activities to work with them.  I have started to create a story to tell.  I have used Nacho y Ozuna’s Casualidad and Ventino’s Me Equivoqué.  (Casualidad does have a racy lyric or two, but I didn’t focus on that during the song.  I really like the story behind it which is why I used it.)  I am sharing both of the songs here!  Both songs have a story written that you can draw and discuss.  I have also included pre-readings that give background information about the singers along with a Google Quiz Form for students to take.

For Casualidad, I included a follow-up story about a real life encounter on the train and a Quizlet set to play Quizlet live.  For Me Equivoqué, I created a cloze activity and included some personalized questions to use with students for discussion before the story and song.  I encourage you to try this technique while you are using music in your class!  I hope that you will find similar positive results that I did.

ps: Don’t forget that there is a sale at Teachers Pay Teachers today and tomorrow if you have been planning on purchasing something!

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