Language Sensei

A Language Teacher's Journey

A “Refreshing” Day 1- Reminding Them How We Work in Class



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I made a vow this year that I would not spend my first day of class doing the ‘outline/student info’ massive amount of teacher talk this year. No – my new attitude is to treat the first few days not reviewing material – but rather reviewing the ‘how’ we work in class and reestablishing routines/support.

Just a quick background about the class I am describing. It is a 79 minute (not 80!) Year 3 class on the semestered system.  This is Day 1 described below but the first few days are all designed to drive home the same points…

As they entered…they heard the song of the week. What It Reminds Them: We listen to music as a group here. We will use it for learning, for relaxing and for setting a mood. If you have any music to contribute – please do! And a reminder – no headphones allowed.

Seats are set at tables of four and students find their name card. What It Reminds Them: Your seats will change – with each unit and you are expected to work with/facilitate conversation with both your partner and your table-mates. We face each other and when we work we always have our partner’s, and table’s, support.

Movie trailer for a new anime movie just released in Japan played 2 times and a mini-movie talk exercise – with teacher Q/A and then with their partner. What It Reminds Them:  We will use ‘authentic’ resources in here that you may be interested in as well. You are not expected to understand everything nor are you asked to translate. You will always get a chance to respond, check things out with your partner as well. Relax and look for clues, guess, risk, dare to try!

Screen shot from trailer – with questions for them designed to have them read & talk with each other. (eg. “Find the character for…). What It Reminds Them: When we read we are reading for key pieces of information and not ‘getting everything’ is okay. When we are working and don’t understand something there are key resources to use – our partner, our phone dictionary or paper dictionary. Don’t sit there because you don’t understand – in this class we take out and use our resources when we need them.

Screen shot from trailer – asking them to write a comment to describe the “mood” of the screenshot. Descriptive phrases are then written, 1 per pair, on the board. What It Reminds Them:  That there are ways to describe beyond ‘It’s fun’ using intensifiers (adverbs) etc to differentiate your answer. Forgot a describing word? Your orange “panic package” (okay – it sounds much more fun in Japanese) has all the characters learned, grammar info, word banks we used last year – see what’s in it – and know that you can go there for a reminder if you need to.

Reading a story featuring this year’s character “Mr. Busy” and what he did in the summer. What It Reminds Them: When we read, we read in pairs often and practice “2 and talk” – each partner reading a sentence then talking about what it means. Remember that you have resources as well – phone/paper dictionary is something is not ringing a bell with you. Your teacher will always be circulating to assist as well.

Group read of story and teacher checking for understanding. What It Reminds Them: We will always work through the story together – and you will confirm what you knew as you read and to add any explanations, support and even a pop-up grammar lesson as needed.

Out of Class Work – (homework) – tell me about 4 things you did on your holiday (and maybe something you didn’t do) and how it went. What It Reminds Them: You have information in your hands to support this. You can hand in work in a variety of forms, online or on paper. Remember my email address and if you are sending it in Google Docs – give me permission to edit.

What they didn’t get – a ‘reading of the outline’; a ‘talk about expectations’; a ‘list of rules’. What they did get – a ‘refresher’ on how we operate in class, supports they have & our ‘community feeling’ of working together. My other classes – even the newbie ones – are designed to start reinforcing this message from day 1.  Welcome back – let’s get down to using our language right away!


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