11 August 2016

The Best Worst First Day Ever

It almost didn't even matter that my SMARTboard speakers wouldn't work and that the broken air conditioning made my room so humid that I was literally slipping and sliding by the end of the day. And working on revisions to my syllabus up until the bell (if we had one) before my first Spanish students walked in actually had little to no effect on my blood pressure!

See that little speaker under the bulletin board? My husband  got it paired
to my iPad this morning, and it worked beautifully!!
Adding to the beauty: my library on the left and my Art Club display
on the right.
I promise you, amigos, I am not speaking ironically. In spite of almost physically melting, yesterday truly was an excellent first day of class!

But if I was sweating buckets in a windowless room with 25 teenagers, I had been a veritable fountain trying to wrap my mind around what a comprehensible AND engaging first day would look like in the weeks since iFLT! I was desperate to do my REAL job, to connect with the kids, to make them feel heard and supported and like they could keep up with the Spanish!

I had decided I needed to address them directly for this to work, so I scrapped the stations. I also needed to get them INVOLVED A. S. A. P., and fortunately Sra. Whisenhunt gave me just the in I needed with Nicky Jam's new song! (More on that in another post!)

After we got good and silly with some call & response, I laid it on the line: it's my job to BE UNDERSTOOD, and to make that happen, I will 1) direct your focus, 2) establish meaning, 3) repeat excessively, and 4) check in regularly.

Then I gathered some crowd pleasers to do a little PQA at Mme. Laine's suggestion (incorporating the choral "AWwwww" I got from iFLT for all "no me gusta" responses).

Then we collaborated to "decide" which order the class questions should go in using a shared Google Drawing, and wegot our notebook table of contents and our first page started.

They weren't even freaked that they had homework the first day, with NINE. WHOLE...pictures.

All in all, I got the responses I wanted, and I feel like I got them to see what I was going for, maybe even a little buy-in--definitely some new Nicky Jam addicts.

So that's a peek into a day that could have been truly terrible given the circumstances. And here are a couple more peeks while we're at it!

Since I can't get rid of all of the college's tables, this is as close
as I dared get to deskless--the mochila table worked pretty well.
One of my colleagues even ended up copying me!

Check out all of the meaning establishing I did! Question posters from
Creative Language Class, a couple of my Essential Verbs, plus some
posters  I printed before planning to clarify some basics ahead of time, a la
Linda Li. And just look at all of the meaning establishing I did on the fly!
Also, I did want to make a note that this first day was also another special first. It is the first day of the first time I have been at the same school for a fifth year since I started 13 years ago!


  1. Where can I find a copy of these poster?

    1. The Creative Language Class posters are available on TPT:

      The Essential Verbs posters are available on my store:

      The other ones I LITERALLY just made the other day!

  2. I am so, so glad that Nicky Jam went well! I'm excited to present it to mine...I might even do it Monday (first day) like you did!
    I hope you can have best best days ever real soon!

  3. Way to go Laura! Your first looked exciting!

  4. Awesome! What do your quiere and gusta signs say? Are they available somewhere? I made my own ver, leer...signs I've spent too much money on TPT lately :).

    1. I have some example questions/sentences for each word:

      -GUSTA-¿Te GUSTA escribir? A mí me GUSTA escribir. A mi hermano no le GUSTA.

      -QUIERE-¿Usted QUIERE más bebida? Sí. QUIERO* más, por favor. El no QUIERE más.

      You can get posters for these and 8 other "Essential Verbs" in my TeachersPayTeachers store! https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Verbos-Esenciales-1763808

  5. I really like that song but after looking at the lyrics I'm not sure it's appropriate for my Freshmen. I'd like to incorporate more music that my students will enjoy this year but so many of the themes are iffy. How do you handle this or is it that you teach older students? I realize they won't comprehend the whole song, but I also know they'll look it up if they like the song or ask heritage speakers what the song is about.

    1. Fair question. My students are sophomores, so a LITTLE older (it does make a difference though!) I do emphasize that Nicky Jam CLEARLY loves DANCING, and THAT is obviously what he wants to do until dawn. Also, if they're looking up other parts, I didn't assign it. Can I help teenage curiosity? *deniable culpability*

      If you're that concerned, there are a bunch of safer songs out there. Try my playlist from last year! https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLcpOEMTiV4UHct0_Sh350zH7mbScbs9oL