Here’s a quick one. It’s not very useful for anyone who’s already a week or more back to school, but for my colleagues who don’t go back until Labor Day, this might still be handy for you.
In years past, I would typically spend one of the first few days back to school having my returning students tell me about their vacation. Usually I would just ask questions to my level 2s, but then I had the problem of everyone who wasn’t that student totally tuning out. My Spanish 3s generally would have to write their story. The 4s would have to give a short verbal description and that was okay, but not great.
This year, I decided to do something different, and it was brilliant and worked exactly the way I wanted it to. Using Google Slideshow, I made a really basic slideshow with a student’s name on each slide, and the rest was blank. Then I posted it to Google Classroom and allowed everyone editing access. All they had to do was put one picture from their summer (or a stand-in from the internet) on the slide with their name. I previewed the slides before class and prepped some possible new vocabulary needed based on their pictures (feria/parque de atracciones/equipo were the most useful). Then the next day, I showed the slideshow and asked them questions about their picture.
Like I said, it was brilliant and perfect (except for the one kid who didn’t put a picture, of course, but that’s life). The visual gave something for everyone to reference as we talked, and it was COMPELLING because in many cases, other students in the class were in the pictures and wanted to hear about themselves, or added details to the story. I did the question-asking, because it kept our vocabulary in bounds and allowed me to prepare a vocab list ahead of time. Since I was asking the questions, I controlled whether we spoke in present tense or past tense as appropriate. It also gave tons of reps on question words.
This activity is definitely a keeper in my book. It was engaging, it was repetitive without being boring, and required about 3 minutes of prep on my end. If you’re not a Google school, you could easily modify it by sharing out a Google Slideshow through the kids’ school email and using that, you could have them each bring in a printed picture to show as you talk, or worst case scenario, have them draw something to represent their summer and go from there. Whatever works for you and your classroom.