4th quarter has arrived and both students and teachers find themselves looking toward the end of the school year. The last 9 weeks can be both exciting (our students are able to do things they couldn’t in August) and tiring (seniors have senioritis and so do juniors, sophomores, and freshmen). What can we do to keep them engaged and inspired as the school year wraps up?
Try a service project.
Whether it is your 4th quarter freshmen reading Esperanza and reaching out to an organization that educates students in Guatemala like Potter’s House or your 4th quarter seniors studying microfinance and donating to KIVA, helping others is rewarding. Putting their language to use helping someone else shows them that they can perform real-world tasks no matter their level of proficiency.
Mafia is a storytelling game. Even students in level 1 can play! Whether you use a standard deck of cards or create a card set that is specific to the topic you’re studying or reader you’re using, it is an activity they’re sure to love. In level 1 and 2, I tell the first 2-3 stories to model what a story looks like at the novice level. After they’ve seen a couple of examples, your strongest speakers will be anxious to become the story teller and you can jump in and play the game. In level 3-4 I tell the first story and then let them take over. They know how to play by now so they can easily take the lead. It is a game I lean on frequently in the spring as we come to the end of a unit. They’ve worked all year to build their language skills! It’s time to show them off!
Off-topic movie talks.
I have to admit that my movie talks usually fall into a unit of study: when we read Brandon Brown Wants a Dog, we movie talk the short “The Present”, when we are beginning the past tense, we movie talk “The Cactus and the Bank.” In the spring, I try to use the movie talks that didn’t really fit into a unit during the year. My classes love Simon’s Cat and anything by Just For Laughs Gags. These one-day movie talks are a great brain break and keep us using target language even when half the class is gone on a field trip!
Games that encourage interpretive and interpersonal communication.
Follow up class readings and activities with games of purpose. From breakout boxes to scavenger hunts with the GooseChase app, there are a lot of ways to “Shake it Up” for a day while keeping it in the target language. Spring fever’s symptoms include restlessness and involuntary bouncing and twitching! Getting up and moving around the room or even the school building are the perfect remedies!
I had a tough Spanish 2 group this fall. They were good people but required a higher level of engagement than I am accustomed to. They needed to be moving all the time. I began to rethink what my follow up activities looked like! Instead of matching descriptions to pictures worksheet style, I had them cut the pieces apart and make manipulatives. Even in the new semester when my groups changed and the need for constant movement was no longer present, I have continued using manipulatives often. The great thing is that if I laminate pages and have the first group of the day cut them, I have the pieces for years to come!
Mid-year, I feel like I get deep into novel study and related cultural stories. In the spring, to keep attention and engagement, I bring back the funny and silly stories. They still have a point, we are still acquiring language and structure, but they are light-hearted and fun. Sometimes I tie them to a new song we are listening to and others to a short text we are going to read but there are days that we just tell something for laughs. It feels good to have these shared experiences with your class of students. They remember and bring them up even years later!
You’ll blink your eyes and 4th quarter will be a memory and a new class of students will be walking through the door in the fall! Take these last few weeks of the 17-18 school year to really enjoy the students you have and the relationship you’ve built!
Carrie Toth is a Spanish teacher from Illinois with over 20 years of teaching experience. She was the 2014 Central States Teacher of the Year and 2015 finalist for ACTFL Teacher of the Year. Carrie has authored La Calaca Alegre, La hija del sastre, Bianca Nieves y los 7 toritos, and Vector. She blogs at somewheretoshare.com and can be found on Twitter @senoraCMT.