A quick, but personal way to establish rapport with your students, incorporate español naturally, and build fluency without anxiety...
¡Hola! ¿Cómo estás? I hope you’re doing well. We all need to express what is happening in our lives, but we are also very busy and in ’work mode’ all the time. So often we want to get to know our students, but don’t feel we have the time (in-class) to fully and genuinely do this. What are their passions? Their challenges? Their goals? Reflecting on these things, I created this quick little check-in sheet to use with my students. I have a more in-depth version for the intermediate to advanced students, but I created this version to meet beginning students where they were in their language development, and (at least begin) to understand what was going on in their lives, and build rapport.
I typically would give them this sheet during class as a follow-up/transition to their bell ringer activity (or in place of one). I would give them about 5-10 minutes to complete the sheet. I would either collect the sheet during class as the students worked on other activities, or they would just give them to me as their “ticket out” for the day. At first, I had to spend a little bit of time coaching them through what things they might write down - especially if they are in a Spanish I class. I would typically give this sheet once every couple of weeks or so.
To lower anxiety and communicate through comprehensible input, I put an “emotion guide” on the front of the sheet with many positive and negative emotions to choose from. You can either have them circle what they’re feeling or just use the guide for reference to answer the back side. This also segways nicely into a cultural discussion about if we are genuinely concerned for someone’s well-being when we ask them how they are doing, or if we are just being socially polite, etc.
Early in the year, I let my students answer in “English, Spanish or Spanglish”. This allows a student to fully communicate to me if they have some family issue or personal trial or triumph to share. I don’t want them to think that it is “just a Spanish exercise”. I want them to use their español, but I also want them to know that they are important and I care enough about them to ask how they are doing and listen to the answer. They are still getting the input of the front of the sheet and the Spanish guide words on the back of the sheet. Later in the year, through repetition of this activity, fewer and fewer of them feel too limited to express themselves in Spanish (or at least Spanglish).
(Teacher Guide continued on next page of product.)
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