5- "I want to know you" activities for Spanish Learners

Win students' attention and hearts the first week of class:Teaching upper level Spanish Class 

This post will discuss and provide resources for exploring the theme of identity in Spanish class. 

"Getting to know you activities"

If you start class with diving into the content and work; you'll lose them on the first day. This was the first line of an article I read last year about engaging teens. It was my first year teaching high school. Prior to that I was teaching at an International Baccalaureate school for 10 years. Most of the students and families knew me so the first day was always pan comido.  

When I was first hired, it was in the middle of the year. I did not know the students and it was an uphill battle that I begin to win towards the end of the school year. The students were great, I just did not know them. I decided to dedicate the whole first unit to discussing and exploring identity. My objectives for the unit at large is: 
  • For me to get to know my students 
  • For students to get to know each other (I teach across grade levels)
  • Dive into juicy and relevant content in the beginning of the year. 
  • Pick up on a topic that has gotten tons of traction in the past few years. 
 This unit starts with them, their identity and then slowly building out complex issues surround the topic. You can peruse each sub section for ideas, resources and activities to help foster the dialogue in your class while integrating authentic voices and realia.  Here are my first day teaching Spanish 4 class.

Side note: We have 90 minute blocks. I usually do three activities a day. This is my new miminalist teacher challenge. But since it is the first day, I want to keep things moving and active so these five activities will inaugurate the school year. 

Día 1 
¡Hola- Bienvenidos!
Goal: I can say the names of my classmates and share information about myself. 

Setting a positive tone one of the most important tasks of a teacher at the beginning of the year. I read a great article on edutopia that gives some brass-tacks advice on being positive, mindset focus and digging into identity and purpose at the start of the school year. Click here for their article . This article dovetails perfectly with my Quien Soy Yo Unit.

Activity 1 

  • Welcome students as they come. 
  • Hand them one of these setting cards by Martinabex.

 Last year the students cracked up when I passed them out. I had plastered them with tape- little coutre, but this year I plan to laminate them and use them whenever they have “Nuevos Amigos” or have to change seats. I plan to kick off the presentations by sharing a little bit about myself such as: 

-My favorite book-

El intenso calor de la luna by Gioconda Belli

- My two cats - Dori y Zoe
- Favorite pass times- reading and Telenovelas 




Students' Present

Then, I turn it over to them. Students introduce themselves to the two people on either side of them. This is the first stage of the introductions!

Activity 2: What's special about your name?

-Quiero que mi nombre se refiera a mí- Mark Haddon

I am fortunate to work in school with a very diverse student body. Names have always interested me. After they have met other students, warmed up with the short communicative activity, we discuss names. I have found this as a great way to for me to get to know them as well. 
  • I give students a blank sheet of card stock paper for them to write their name. They fold the paper lengthwise and write their name on the front. 

-Students label their nameplates regarding the origin, meaning of their name, who named them and why their name is perfect for their personality. 

  • They share this information with other classmates and compare and contrast names, meanings or family origin. 

Although I have done this activity, I also like this activity that Misclaseslocas mentioned in her first week of school. For this activity students pass around a ball and introduce themselves and another student. More information about the ball activity can be accessed here.  

Activity 3: ¿Quiénes son mis compañeros?

Now that students have met their "immediate family members, they go around and met other students.  I have multigrade students so not all of them are familiar with each other.
 Last year most students did not know each other. So this year I am making sure I include this vital component. 

-Circula por la clase 
-Conoce a dos colegas

Preguntas de introducción 

¿Cómo te llamas?
¿En qué años estás (segundo, tercero o cuatro)
¿Cuáles son dos clases que tienes este año escolar?

Activity 4:  La Farándula 

There was so much that happened over summer from celebrity break-ups, to Mega Stars passing away, I always like to give students chance to chime in on celebrity gossip. My students loved this last year. It really set the class afire and they could not start talking.  Students share out. 

Activity 5:  Perfil 

 I wanted to do an About Me activity that would also capture personal information that "humanize" my students. This activity invites students to: 

  • Discuss their preferences
  • Describe their learning style 
  • Personality in three words
  • 3 Topics that they are passionate about
  • Their fears
  • What inspires them
  • What they hate 
  • Something they'd want me to know about them. 
This last piece is important because in class you cannot get to know everything. I learned that one of my students was a finalist for Fencing!  He had went to Thailand to compete and came in second place. I would not have known this otherwise. We had great
¿Quién soy y que me gusta?

What are some activities you do in order to get to know your students? 

Stay tuned for more activities for engaging older students!