I taught FLES for several years before I switched to HS and one of the things that I loved about teaching elementary was the sense of community that the children had with the teacher and each other. I started teaching HS 4 years ago and I noticed that community is missing from the high school classes. Every year, we get to the end of the year and some kids still do not know every classmate's name.
That will change this year.
I plan to create community in my Spanish classes and plan to start from Day 1. I will tell my story in the TL with lots of pictures. This year, I plan to play them my favorite song (an authentic song, of course!) and use Memes to show them some of the classroom expectations. For my Spanish 1s (novice low), I plan to do Ben Slavic's circling balls activity (as posted in Carrie Toths's blog http://somewheretoshare.com/), have students introduce themselves to each other and the class, have them pick a favorite something/someone by doing a M&M activity.
Each student will pick one M&M and then I will give them their category. I will provide some options for them to choose from and will rely heavily on cognates. The students will draw their favorite item and write the word/name on the paper. When telling my story, I will model "My favorite .......is ....." but I will accept one word answers from them.
The Categories are: Red = favorite subject, Blue = favorite sport, Yellow = favorite actor, Brown = favorite season, Orange = favorite social media Ap/tool, Green = Favorite food. For my logical/mathematical kids, I will create have a graph on the SmartBoard with each color so that we can compare how many people prefer a color most or least.
I have to say that this is the first time that I am really excited about teaching novices. I have learned SO MUCH through my Twitter PLN that I can't wait to start these kids on the journey to being life long learners of Spanish.
I will also be teaching Spanish 3 Honors and I plan to also get the kids to know each other. I am going to have them do the Speed Dating game with a list of questions that they will ask each other. I also want to adapt Vacation Wars (Carrie Toth's idea from her blog) and get them started telling us their story. Their first homework will be to come back the next class period and do a short presentation to the class to tell us who they are. This will be a formative assessment (their grade will be strictly based on completion) that should give me an idea regarding where they are in their presentation skills.
In order to do all of these great ideas, I think I am going to have to change the layout of my classroom and it is kind of freaking me out. I have had a U shaped classroom for the last 2 years and it has worked quite well. But, these activities require the desks to be in pairs or pods of 4.
Note: I teach on A/B block schedule for 90 minutes.