The First Day of School

I guess I've never done a post that outlines what I do on the first day of school, so here it is.  I've gotten my ideas from a variety of resources, so I will try to give credit where credit is due.  First of all, I will say I got a lot of my ideas from this wonderful post from Creative Language Class, but I put my own spin on it.

I like students to walk away on the first day not only excited about the year ahead, but actually able to say a few words in the language they signed up for.  By the end of this lesson, students will have learned the following words and expressions:  Bonjour, Je m'appelle, Comment t'appelles-tu ?, and Au revoir !  Of course they will hear many other words and expressions along the way, but the aforementioned are the ones I am targeting.

I use a Prezi (see full Prezi at the bottom), and once class begins, I zoom in on this slide and announce my name to the class.  Students shout out what they think it means.

Then I zoom into this slide (which I stole directly from Creative Language Class!), but I don't say it out loud because I am speaking all in French.

Next, it's time for attendance.  I say "Ici," and point to the floor, as in, right here, and then "Absent," and put my hands in the air like I don't know.

I then show this quick video to demo what attendance should look like.  It's a mashup of YakIt Kids (which sadly, is no longer available) and the animoji feature that you can get on newer iPhone models.  Then I take attendance, and each student says, "Ici !"

Then I share a little about myself.  I show a photo of myself when I was a student at their school, a photo of me in Paris, a photo of my cat, a photo of my riding a horse, and a photo I took in Paris since I love to take photos.  I describe all these photos to students in French.

Then I ask the class, "Permission de parler anglais ?," which is a trick I got from my colleague Lisa.  By asking permission before speaking English, it reinforces how important it is to speak French as much as possible.  At this time I break into English.  Some may not agree with this, but I like to talk to them a little bit about what to expect and congratulate them on working through the first part of class entirely in French.  I share some of the topics we will be learning about, some of the different ways we learn, and I also tell them about French Club.

Then we go back into French for the rest of the lesson.  I get them to say what they think "Comment t'appelles-tu" means, and when they've figured it out, everyone makes a name tag.

Each student gets half a sheet of card stock which they are instructed (in French, of course!) to fold the long way ("like a hot dog"), then write "Je m'appelle" and their first and last name on one side, nice and large.  While this is happening, I usually play some French music for them.  Later on, when they pick their French names, they will write the same thing on the other side, but replace their first name with their French name, assuming it's different.  Students are asked to keep their name tags in their binders and put them on their desks at the beginning of each class until I've learned all their names AND French names.  Eventually I let them know they don't need to use them anymore and they can recycle them.

Next it's time to introduce themselves.  I show them this video to model how I'd like them to introduce themselves.  Then I model with a couple of students.  Then I ask them to introduce themselves to the people they are sitting next to before getting up and introducing themselves to other classmates in French.

If time permits, I will have students complete a survey/interest inventory for me as well.  This is done in English, since students obviously would not know how to answer questions like "What's one thing I should know about you?" in French.  Then it's time to say good-bye!

Here you can get a look at the whole Prezi.  I have been doing some version of this lesson for a number of years, and I like that it gets them excited about class and also speaking some French.  Going over rules and procedures is left for later on, once everyone has settled in.

What do you do on the first day of school?

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