Whew! This summer has been amazing and a whirlwind. I have been so appreciative of the feedback that we have gotten over the book. I want to try to answer some questions about Common Ground that have been coming up at different points. I am excited that it is motivating teachers to make changes to their curriculum. But it is hard! And time-consuming! I have been on this journey now for many years. If you look back at my early posts (from 2013- WHEW!)- some of them mirror some activities that I still use today but some don’t look like anything I am currently doing. That is all to say- do not compare yourself to me or anyone else. You will keep evolving as a teacher and that is awesome.
Many teachers reflected that they felt overwhelmed with making this transition. It is so true! I have been there as well. I am hoping that as we get feedback and answer questions it will further help people make this transition via smaller changes. Here are some ways to change up some first day activities that many teachers are already doing:
Introduce the teacher
Many times, teachers introduce themselves, and use pictures and cognates to make it comprehensible. Let’s think of ways to not only extend this activity to get more mileage out of it but to give students a purpose for listening.
- At the beginning, share a few sentences about you- perhaps where you are from, what you like and do not like, the university you cheer for/attended. (With novices, you can support them with written words on the screen as well as images. If you do not have the Flaticon extension on Chrome- this is great at adding supporting images!). Then have students predict which ones are true and which ones are false. I like to keep a tally next to it, so we remember the class decision.
- Then you can do your introduction and students can see which statements were true.
- After the introduction, you can give students a sheet with some of the basic information on it- such as Profe Maris likes yoga, Profe Maris is from the beach etc, and they can check if they have that in common with you or not.
- You can collect their papers and then tally up the results of things that people have in common with you. (Make it even easier and use a Google Form!). As an extension the next day, you could have students predict how many people in the class had certain things in common with you. For example, how many students also like to cook or read. How many students also cheer for UVa, WVU or Clemson? For novices, you could make it multiple choice to give them three answers and they could hold up a sign A, B or C to indicate their choice.
Total Physical Response/TPR
- I love TPR especially for my younger students- but I know so many people who use it successfully with older students. Essentially, the teacher uses a command such as- jump! walk! sit down! stand up! and the students complete it. I myself have had trouble getting as much mileage out of this activity as I have wanted to- so here are some twists that I am considering for next year.
- First, I am going to use it to teach common commands that they will use in the classroom. “You need a whiteboard, marker and eraser.” Then “write on your whiteboard” and “erase your whiteboard.” We do play Simon Says with TPR- but that goes quickly for me as well! The amazing Bertha Delgadillo gave me my favorite twist to this day! While you are saying the commands- one student will be up front. Sometimes they will act it out correctly, and other times they will not. This is such a fun twist- and we would have to play it enough for all of my students to get a turn!
- Also, I think a version of telephone would also be fun! You could tell the secret phrase to the first student then they all whisper, and the last student acts it out. Or if you are doing it like me to review some materials that they would need for class they could grab the item that you mentioned.
Ice Breaker Questions
- Many teachers use ice breaker questions which are great for level 2 and up. Students can review some of the common questions from previous levels and share information about themselves. I would include an extension to make sure that students are paying attention to what others are saying. I would provide sentence starters such as “We all took _____ class.” or “We all go to _______.” This would also help give students ideas of which commonalities they might find.
- You could also start here but expanding it into whole class surveys example #6 from page 93. I would have students research certain questions and then share out their findings with the class. I like this example instead of the find someone who since students have to pay more attention to meaning.
- It would be even more interesting if after the reports out, students suggested a possible unit or section of a unit to investigate more based on your syllabus. For example, if one student could collect information about countries that students are interested in learning about. Another idea would be to have students share what type of music they like (I got this idea from a wonderful teacher at EdCampCIVa! Then you could use that answer to include more information from those countries throughout the year.
For more ideas for beginning of the year, I recommend day 1 on page 85 and example 3 on page 18. I would love to hear if you are incorporating any ideas from Common Ground on the first day OR if you have any questions that I could answer in subsequent blog posts!