A glimpse into their world

Wow, what a day!

Today was my first day of the 2013-14 school year and it was a game changer for me.  I began today with my message clear.  I wanted to get to know a little about my students, let them know this class would be different than others, and tell them a bit about me in the process.

I opened by talking to them briefly about the class, but not in the traditional manner.  Here is what I said.

Get ready for the experience of a lifetime!  Welcome to your Spanish travel adventure.   I will be your tour guide and if you think this is going to be one of those boring, documentary style trips…think again!  We are going to have fun, get experiential, and hopefully learn along the way.  We will do everything in our power to make learning Spanish relevant, meaningful, fun, and easy.  Wait a minute…did she just say easy?  Yes, we will work with your brain, learning style and preferences to make learning Spanish as easy as possible this year.  You will work with your travel mates (take a look around…see the wonderful group we are travelling with?) to develop language, communicate in an entirely different way, and build a community of learners.

You will pursue your passions in this classroom through a concept called genius hour…To be continued next week.

We will focus on learning.  There are no points in this class, only standards, feedback (from me, your classmates, and yourselves), and assessment.  The word homework is not used here, only practice.

We will embark on  our journey soon, but there are some  housekeeping details we must attend to before departure.


After this, we took attendance and took care of any misplaced students.  Our next activity was to figure out Spanish names.  I let my students decide what they would like to be called in my room, as long as it is in Spanish.  I know this is not reality when they step outside my room, but they really enjoy choosing an identity for class, and we always seem to learn some new words along the way! (I had a student today that chose Sacapuntas as his name – Pencil Sharpener)

The final activity for the day was to take pipe cleaners and create something that tells about them.  Here are a few examples:

Musical note

We closed by introducing ourselves and the pipe cleaner creations we made.

The moment of the day was when one student approached me on his way out the door. “It was nice to meet you.  I can tell I am really going to enjoy your class.”


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  1. Ntransplant Cash August 23, 2013 at 7:29 AM - Reply

    I will be using this idea! Thanks!

    • Garnet Hillman August 25, 2013 at 12:46 PM - Reply

      Appreciate you reading and trying the idea out! Hope it goes really well!

  2. Sra S August 21, 2013 at 3:23 PM - Reply

    I just bought a lot of pipe cleaners and I am planning on trying your idea. I’ll let them choose the colors they like and this might be a good color review for my 6th graders. Thanks for sharing!

    • Garnet Hillman August 25, 2013 at 12:45 PM - Reply

      Hope it goes well for you! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. Shawn Adkins August 15, 2013 at 11:24 AM - Reply

    Love it! Can’t wait to try this next week when I start! The swimmer was awesome!

    • Garnet Hillman August 25, 2013 at 12:45 PM - Reply

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Shawn! Great to see your kids creations as well!

  4. Garnet Hillman August 15, 2013 at 5:58 AM - Reply

    Thanks for reading and your comments, Michele! I wanted to communicate to my students on the first day that relationships are more important than rules. It worked out really well!

  5. Michele Jackson August 15, 2013 at 1:16 AM - Reply

    Love the pipe cleaner creations. I’m actually planning my first days right now so I was happy to read yours. I teach US History & World Cultures and don’t want to be the talking head all day. Have a great year!

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