Hola a todo@s! I hope you’re enjoying your winter break as much as I am! Hopefully you’re not beginning to feel the sneaky anxiety of Sunday night back to school feelings just yet, but if you are, I wanted to put something out here for you to use easily for your students (and to make sure you can relax as long as possible!).There’s no need to dread the first day back from winter break!
I teach in a school where there is a large foreign language department. We have about 12-15 teachers in our department in a given year. I teach four of eleven sections of Spanish 2, and one of ten (or so) sections of Spanish 1. So, in January, in the new semester, I have some students I had last semester, some faces I had last year, and some new students who have never experienced my classroom environment before. I find it really important to make sure that each of those students understands the classroom routine and family environment I try and create as quickly as possible. I want my students to feel comfortable in my room and safe enough to explore a new language.
First Day Back from Winter Break Outline:
- Seats – avoiding that awkward “Where do I go, what do I do?” feeling when my students walk into the classroom is huge. Depending on how many students I already know, I will create a seating chart, or use Character Cards from Martina Bex to make sure each student knows where they belong. I make sure that I am “bustling” about the classroom, greeting, helping, joking, connecting with the students.
- “Housekeeping” – I go over operating procedures: the bathroom, what my name is, etc. BRIEF, but get them the important info.
- Bonding with Grupos – Since my students sit in small groups, I make sure they have had time to introduce themselves to each other. I usually give them a few basic get to know you questions from my set of Icebreaker Convo Cards.
- Names – We’ll do a quick “Ball Game” with “¿Cómo te llamas?” to start putting names and faces with the rest of the class. Often I’ll “test” them by asking them to work as a group to name as many people in class as they can. I’ll take a quick poll to ask how many they can name. Sometimes it seems like their first day back from winter break is like their first day of school all over again – who are all these people!? If they don’t know each other well, we’ll play a few more rounds to help put names and faces together.
- Chat – because the first day back from winter break is usually the Most Monday-ish Monday of all (even if it’s on a Tuesday), we’ll spend a lot of time sharing about our breaks with structured discussions. This portion usually looks something like this:
❁ La Cuenta de Profe – I share about my break, in-depth. This is supported with visuals and captions on my Smartboard.
❁ They brainstorm about what they did without Spanish class over break. I make lots of jokes about spending hours crying in their rooms alone without us.
❁ We share in small groups using the Habla structure I describe here.
❁ After they’ve shared, I’ll ask if anyone wants to share with the class. Depending on their comfort level, we may wind up talking with a few individuals for quite awhile. If not, I’ll do several “polls” for the class to share what they did. For example, I’ll ask if anyone went to see a movie, and model with a hand raise. Again, depending on comfort level with the new class, I may ask more in-depth individual questions (What movie? With whom? Did you like it?).
- Writing + Illustrating Activity – I’ll be honest, some classes, we don’t even get to this because we chat for so long, and that’s awesome! I often wind up using this activity the next day instead (TWO days planned instead of one?! Darn). If that’s the case, it gets more speaking along with the writing. A quick turn and talk, or small group discussion works really well with this. You could even turn it into a gallery walk and make the writing and illustrating your first day back plans.
Print and Go First Day Back from Winter Break:
Confession: some years after break the idea of playing with balls and acting out how my break went just sounds exhausting. School? Again? Already?
Those years I have a few things ready to go that aren’t super high-energy on my part, but are still great practice and a good way to ease the students back into Spanish class:
❁Find Someone Who Weekend Chat
❁Weekend Chat Conversation Cards
❁Winter Break Writing Activity
All three of those get students a good way to share about their break, include options for movement and other learning styles, but allow you to take a backseat as opposed to being the center of attention. Whew! Perfect for those of us who had a break that was less than..restful.
There! All planned for the first day back from winter break. Doesn’t that feel nice? What are you planning on doing your first days back?