Inside: Bell-ringers for Spanish class, with a free download for Para empezar choice boards.
Bell-ringers are my nemesis. Many things could be termed as such– taking attendance, keeping track of late/missing work, maybe– but my para empezar history just might take the cake.
I have lots of different preps, and coming up with something specialized to each class has been overwhelming. I’ve come up with more than one bellringer in the 5 seconds before class started, too.
— as a new teacher, I usually made them grammar-based. While I think there’s a time for focusing on accuracy, the first few minutes of class are precious. Students typically retain information best from the beginning and end of class. And what helps students acquire language the most is comprehensible input, and so CI, exercises, probably belong in those precious minutes.
I was beginning with grammar exercises as my Para empezar— conjugate this verb, translate this sentence, correct the mistakes, etc. The students who “got” grammar easily flew through it. The middle students may have improved their accuracy. The students who struggled with Spanish grammar struggled with it. They walked into class and were immediately frustrated by their novice errors, which set the tone for the rest of class.
The message to all my students? The *most* important thing is to not make mistakes. Because when they walked in, I was immediately asking for them to work on their accuracy.
Since then, I’ve moved to a proficiency-based model. I am focused on my students growing and growing in what they can communicate, not in finding their mistakes. One of my goals this year, then, is to completely restructure my lessons. I want to immediately begin with input, and front-load the lesson with rich, compelling content– like a good song or story, or a novel we’re reading.
(Update: since writing this post, I wrote an extensive blog on Easy Bellringers for Spanish Classes with a ton of ideas.)
Para empezar Choice Boards
To combat the stress of lots of preps and my own disorganization, I came up with these editable Choice Boards. Essentially, I can simply copy and paste any song, text, or story onto the board. The students choose a option with which to respond. Everything is very short, as the point is really that they’re taking the content in. I have the prompts and blank squares ready in their notebooks so that I can check at the end of the week. (Or, let’s be honest… whenever I’m able to get to them!)
When we start off the year, for example, I plan to do Persona especial interviews. The next day, the para empezar could be one of those typed interviews. It could be the chorus to a song we’ve listened to that week, or a short story we wrote the day before.
Hopefully, as they begin class this year, the message is different. Hopefully they walk in and see all they know: that the compelling content itself hooks them, and the confidence carries over into the rest of class.
If I want to, I can choose a specific square and have all the student respond with the same prompt, so we can immediately go over the responses. Grab your editable version today, if you think this might help your bellringer routine for class!
After attending Camp Musicuentos I’m considering moving my bellringer– administrivia, as Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell calls it– 15 or 20 minutes into class, to maximize the beginning. We’ll see. I think these can work either way!
I’d love to know what you think. Let me know if you have any suggestions to make it better!