Lesson Plan Ideas for the First Week of Spanish Class

Back-to-school season is upon us. Students and families are gathering materials, while teachers are doing everything from setting up their classrooms to planning their first lessons. 

That first week of class can be tricky to plan, especially in a language classroom. How does one balance introductions/community building, establishing expectations and procedures AND introducing content. Is this even possible with the 90% target language goal?

Over the years of teaching Spanish, I managed to balance *most* of these things. I learned to let the 90% TL goal go, especially that first week or so, because I felt the other goals were much more valuable during that time. 

 

Questions to Ask Yourself

Ask yourself these questions before sitting down to plan your week 1 lessons!

  • Does my school/department have any specific expectations of my first week lessons? (ie. no content for x amount of days, cover the syllabus on day x, do an introductory activity that all other world language classes will do)
  • What is my syllabus plan? Will students read this at home and complete some sort of proof of their reading/understanding? Will we cover it in class?
  • What do I want students to know about our classroom space week 1? (ie. where to find important materials, how to submit/pick up assignments, etc.)
  • What procedures do I hope my students become familiar with during week 1? (ie. how to enter/exit the classroom, how class begins, passing out/collecting papers, etc.)
  • What kind of community building activities seem fitting? And do I want us to complete this in the TL or in English?
  • Will I begin any content week 1? (Sometimes this is determined by your school/department, but if you have choice in the matter, I’d recommend starting content that isn’t *absolutely essential*, primarily because so many class roster shifts happen week 1!
  • Are there any other logistics that are important for week 1? (ie. signing into Google Classroom, submitting a questionnaire or syllabus signature, etc.)
 

How I Plan Week 1

My week 1 plans always include a balance of establishing procedures, building community and introducing (or reviewing) some Spanish. I’ve learned that spending a ton of time talking AT the students about the syllabus and procedures is 1) a waste of time and 2) often forgotten later anyway! I find it best if students read the syllabus at home and submit proof this back to me. I also prefer introducing important procedures as needed (for example, the first time I pass out papers, I have students go through the motions of counting enough for their row and passing the stack on).

Take a peek below at how I would design my week 1 lessons. While this is intended for beginning levels of Spanish, I follow the same pattern (just with more advanced language activities) for upper-level classes.

Sample Week 1 Lesson Plan

Day 1: Welcome & Introductions

  • Greet students (I love doing this at the door week 1!) and provide seating instructions and an index card (for warm-up)
  • Warm-up (instructions on the board/screen: Complete the “about me” index card (example: name & nickname, class period, birthday, 1 fact about you, 1 thing you did this summer, 1 hobby of yours). Collect/save these cards to use for calling on students during the year!
  • Presentación sobre el/la profe: Share a slides presentation about yourself 100% in Spanish! Tell students to sit, listen and absorb what they can (or take notes if they wish). As you present, use a LOT of cognates, images and acting to support students’ comprehension. For fun, give a “pop quiz” at the end to see how much they understood. This is a great segue into the benefits of using both cognates and visual cues to aid in understanding. 
  • Introduce ¿Quién soy yo? assignment + guiding slides
  • HW ideas: Join Google Classroom (or any other digital sign-ups) and work on poster assignment (alternative idea: visual poster assignment – free download!)
 

Day 2: Student Introductions

  • Greet students
  • Warm-up ideas: syllabus-related questions, simple review Qs for returning students, either/or with visuals (chocolate o vainilla), choose a cognates activity
  • Actividad de nombres: I found this ideas on the Creative Language Class blog years ago and find it’s great for beginning Spanish students to meet one another and learn Me llamo/me gusta! Check it out here!
  • Distribute syllabus and instructions (I often assign an open-note syllabus quiz via Google Forms to complete week 1 as HW!)
  • Work time: continue ¿Quién soy yo? poster work and display slides to guide students
  • HW ideas: syllabus signature/quiz/scavenger hunt, continue poster assignment
 

Day 3: Introduce Yourself!

  • Greet students
  • Warm-up ideas: syllabus-related questions, simple review Qs for returning students, either/or with visuals (chocolate o vainilla), choose a cognates activity
  • Una carta para el/la profe: In either English (beginning levels), Spanish (upper levels) or a mix of the two, ask students to write you a letter about themselves. Provide a variety of ideas: how they and others might describe themselves, what skill they are most proud of, how they spent their summer, what they’re looking forward to in Spanish class, what concerns they have, what kind of student they are/what helps them succeed most in a classroom setting, etc. 
  • Entrevistas – Post Q/A cues on the screen and have students go around the room asking one another ¿Cómo te llamas? and ¿Qué te gusta? and record responses on a sheet of paper. Students should reuse ideas from yesterday’s activity.  If students seem ready, you could add ¿Cuántos años tienes? with age options to respond with. This will get them up, moving and already using Spanish in an interpersonal format! For Spanish 2-3, consider this interview assignment!
  • HW ideas: student questionnaire, continue poster work
 

Day 4: Why Learn a Language?

  • Greet students
  • Warm-up ideas: discuss or write why you chose to learn and study this specific language and any benefits you know of learning a second language
  • Explorative Webquest: Why Study Spanish? Webquest OR Intro to Español Webquest (note: devices needed!)
  • Fast-finisher activity: choose a cognates activity or continue poster assignment
  • HW idea: Finish poster assignment for submission tomorrow
 

Day 5: Student Intros and Class Overview

  • Greet students
  • Warm-up ideas: syllabus-related questions, simple review Qs for returning students, either/or with visuals (chocolate o vainilla), choose a cognates activity
  • Share out: ¿Quién soy yo? posters – Students share in pairs or small groups, find connections, etc. 
  • Syllabus discussion: review important points, complete an in-class syllabus quiz, address questions, etc. 
  • ¡Escoge uno! Movement Activityfree download here! – Students move to sides of the room based on their preference, while being introduced to a variety of words in Spanish!

Additional Ideas

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