Quick Tips: Making The Mundane More Meaningful

I get tired.

tired

…tired of teaching certain vocabulary themes. (Months of the year, how to introduce yourself, numbers 1-20, to name a few.)

Here are some ways I’ve tried to MAKE THE MUNDANE MORE MEANINGFUL for my students and me.

Introducing Yourself/Others

  • At random times I call myself the wrong name. (i.e. “Cool, huh!? Were you impressed by that? Round of applause for Sr. Howie!!!!”) Then, when the students are puzzled/shocked that I called myself the wrong name, I say (in the TL), “Sr. Howie!? No. Wait. No. My name is not Sr. Howie. My name is Sr. Howard.” Sometimes I’ll have the sentences written/posted so that I can point to them while I say them.
  • Well into November, I pretend like I don’t quite know the names of all my students. When it comes time to call on one of them, I pause (with a confused look on my face) and say, “What is your name?” or, “What is your name, again?” and expect them to respond with a complete sentence.
  • When I greet the students, at the beginning of class, I’ll ask them how their brother, sister, mother/father are doing. Then I will say, “What is your brother’s name, again?” and expect them to respond with a complete sentence. If they can’t respond with a complete sentence I’ll use the Two-Hand Method.
  • When we do Data-Hunt Activities, I will ask them to pick a fake name for themselves. At the end of the activity, I’ll ask questions like, “Class, what is Rachel’s (fake) name?”

Months Of The Year

  • The student that accumulates the most ClassDojo points in any given month receives a prize. Then we reset the points to zero and start the new month fresh. At this point I like to practice the L2 months in a meaningful way.  I say something in the target language like, “we have to say goodbye to all the points because we are saying goodbye to _______ (i.e. August, December).”  Then I have the students say, “Goodbye points,” and I reset the point bubbles.  Then I sing a “goodbye to the month” song.  Then we say goodbye to all the months that have passed in the school year so far.  By the end of the year students know all of the months without ever having to complete a formal thematic unit on the months of the year.
  • Students must write the date (including the month) as part of the heading on all of their papers.

Numbers 1-20

  • I have a set of 20 Guatemalan Kickballs (although you could use 20 of any throw-able object). I use the ClassDojo.com ‘random-student-picker’ to choose a volunteer to throw one ball at a time into a box. The class counts each time a ball is successfully thrown into the box. (Missed throw = no count) At the end, we write down the number of balls in the box.
  • Students find their seat by matching numbers.  Each desk should have a different number written out in the target language.  Each student receives a number when they walk into the classroom.  Students match the number to it’s written form to find out where they sit for the day.  Make the task more challenging by replacing low numbers for higher ones as the year goes on.
  • As a part of my attendance routine, I count how many students are in class. First I count from my attendance list, then I count the students in the room to make sure the numbers match. Once they match, I hold up the corresponding number (on a magnet) and show it to all of the students.
  • Sometimes, when there’s a few minutes to kill at the end of class, I’ll randomly choose a student and they will have to say all of the L2 numbers that I point to on the ClassDojo homescreen.  I love doing this because my youngest students are masters at counting but start stumbling when I ask them to say a random number that I point to. Often we will also talk about which student has the most points.  We talk about it so much that even my 2nd graders can ask and answer complete L2 sentences like, “How many points does Roger have?” and “Who has the most points?” Whenever I see a student get excited about earning a point, I take the opportunity to use the Two-Hand Method to teach them to say, “Look Sr. Howard! I have 8 points!”

Passing Out Classroom Materials


Not sure how to give instructions AND stay in the target language for some of the activities listed above? Check out this post: “Ahhh! How Am I Supposed To Give Activity Directions In The Target Language!?”


What do you do to make the mundane meaningful? Please comment below.

Señor Howard

Señor Howard – www.SenorHoward.com/blog – @HolaSrHoward

Caleb Howard – www.SoMuchHope.com – @calhwrd

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