Some of us local Chattanooga teachers decided to keep the IFLT16 momentum going and met to talk about how to incorporate Comprehensible Input from Day One, while establishing our class culture. We had a very productive share-out and of course these three CI activities kept popping-up in our conversation:
- Persona Especial by Bryce Hedstrom
- TPR by J. Asher + mini stories with TPR by Karen Rowan
- Circling with balls by Ben Slavic
These engaging CI activities have been well documented/blogged about and I hope you will consider using them in your first days/weeks of class!
The next day, my friend Laura Sexton tweeted:
In 8 years of teaching, I have had 8 different “Day One” and while last school year felt like the best Day One ever, I am sure Day One will keep evolving. But if you think it might be helpful to you, then I am happy to share:
After viewing and quickly debriefing a very short video explaining how students will understand me if I only speak French, I jumped right into my favorite activity of the day, the warm-up we will run every single day even if we only have 15 min of class due to snow delay, the warm-up that earned me the feed-back of “you should be a counselor, you know us so well” by my 7th graders, the warm-up that was one of my biggest aha moments at my first TPRS conference in Agen, 2014: How do you feel?
Subliminal objective: I care about how you feel.
On Day One, I simply share how I feel and ask my students how they feel, CI style.
- Rubbing my chest for “je me sens”, I say: “Classe, je me sens heureuse (pause and point), effrayée (pause and point), et (raise my finger) exténuée (pause and point)”).
- I know my students feel at least one of these emotions today.
- I circle and restate using: “Do I feel happy?’, “Who feels happy”?, “Who feels scared?”, “Who feels exhausted?”,”Nathalie feels happy, yes or no?” “Yes class, Nathalie feels happy”, etc.
- I don’t offer a “either or” because come on it is Day One, let’s take things slowly.
- Last year, a student blurted out in English that he was mad about the first day of school (this is an emotion I will introduce later on), so I played with him a little and seized the opportunity to teach the first rejoinder of the year “Pauvre Sam!”, which my students loved saying chorally!
Subliminal objectives: I am the teacher, I orchestrate the fun but the magic only happens if we work together.
After checking that my students comprehended the “How do you feel” objective, I move on to show casing a few story characters. This allows me to establish my role as the teacher and start involving students.
- I write on the board “Je suis – I am “, “Je ne suis pas – I am not”, and “C’est – it is”. I am aware these are not typical Day One CI structures but again my goal is to establish to 7th graders that I am in charge while introducing some story characters.
- I open my costume box, put on the fuchsia boa and say “Classe, je suis une diva?” Of course the students answer “oui” and I can say “Non classe, je ne suis pas une diva!”, and so I put on the next costume. All my costumes have been carefully selected to be cognates.
- fan des Reds (Cincinnati baseball team)
- fan des Bengals (Cincinnati Football team)
- After I have gone through all the costumes and got a bunch of repetition of “je suis / je ne suis pas”, I finally break it to them: “Classe, je suis la prof.” This simple statement will come very handy when students try to take control, I can gently remind them in French who the teacher is.
- Now it is time for me to call for volunteers (another routine we will use often in class) and put costumes on them.
- I am now circling “C’est une diva? “, “C’est un cowboy?”, “Qui est un explorateur?” C’est un cowboy ou un mignon?”, etc.
- Big applause for my volunteers and a quick photo to send to the parents (market your program from Day One!)
Subliminal objective: Getting to know you is incredibly important to me.
After checking that my students comprehended the “Profession” objective, I move on to the last part of class: Ben Slavic’s circling with balls (without the balls). We will do this activity every day until I have hit every student in the class.
- On the students’ desks, I have a marker, a piece of construction paper, and a hair pin.
- I give students 4-5 min to write their name and draw their hobby or musical instrument. Then they pin their paper to their shirt.
- I walk around, looking for students I can do PQA with (Personalized Questions & Answers). I am not at the point in my CI journey where I can spontaneously circle/PQA anything, so on Day One I choose students’ hobbies I know I can circle with in a fun way using gestures and adverbs like quick/slow and well/not well such as “swimming”, “dancing”, or “running”.
- Using Ben’s approach, I PQA with 2-3 students, teaching others to “oooh” when I make a statement about their classmate.
- Last year, after circling “nage” (swims) in one of my classes, I asked a student who had put swimming as his hobby “Mason, tu nages vite (quickly)?”. To my surprise, the student answered “non”. I spontaneously broke into a jazzy chant “Mason, tu nages dou-ce-ment?” and the whole class chanted after me. Honestly it was a bit of a risk because I did not know this student, would he like the attention? I was going off on a hunch based on his energy and smile. It was a hit and that chant stayed with us for a long time.
There is no one right way to manage your Day One. I think choosing your subliminal objectives carefully is key and to quote the author of “Teach Like A Pirate”, the amazing Dave Burgess:
“Provide an uncommon experience for your students and they will reward you with an uncommon effort and attitude.”
I truly believe CI does just that.