How I use Calendar Talk

In this post, I am sharing how calendar talk has started working for me last year and this year. Calendar Talk originated from Tina Hargaden and Claudia Elliott has also helped how I see Calendar Talk.

If you are unfamiliar with Calendar Talk, many teachers use it as a way to talk about what is happening at the beginning of class. It can be anything from birthdays, to tests or sporting events at school to cultural celebrations. It is all done in the target language. The physical calendar also makes it comprehensible for students since it is something they are familiar with. However, there can also be cultural components with the calendar which can facilitate great discussion. It is also pretty low prep- I look up a few things and print out copies of my calendar for my students! I do this in 5th, 6th and 8th grade. (I don’t teach 7th grade.)

I have always liked calendar talk- but I found it difficult to find a rhythm that made it work for me and my classes. Many of these ideas that work came from my colleague Serena Berkowitz who teaches French. First, I started just doing calendar talk on the first day of the month (or as close as we were to it.). I also give each student a copy of the calendar to fill out as I fill ours out. I don’t require this unless some students are having trouble focusing on the activity. This year, I am going to be more purposeful about the chat mats that I use. I want to keep them simple but also continue to use them over and over, so my students will retain more of the information on each one. This year, I created this chat mat to talk about the calendar. (If you create one in your language, please share it back, and I will add it to this post!)

I ask my students: what images would they associate with this month? Who has birthdays this month? (You have to limit this one if you have younger students or you will have every cousin’s birthday up there!). Are there any upcoming field trips? (My school has a robust field education program. In one year, there are about 250 field trips! You can read more about my favorite field trips for Spanish students in the DC area here.). Finally, are there any days off from school or other holidays?

The other prep that I do is to fill in teachers’ birthdays at my school. (We are a VERY small school- so most of my students know the majority of teachers at my school.). They love to guess when each person’s birthday is. In the CI Liftoff Facebook group, Lake Mathison shared this awesome website! I pick out some interesting “national” days that I think will generate interest. For example, in September, there was a lot of chocolate days. So we could discuss how many people preferred white chocolate to dark chocolate etc. This also helps me pull out any independence days from countries that speak Spanish. Students could guess which date that was or which country. I really like this because it is a low risk way for students to participate which encourages more students to participate in our discussion!

I would love to hear how you have incorporated more calendar talk into your classes! (Or if you try this on Monday and how it goes!)

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