Thinking ahead for next year: Student Interest Survey


I hope you’re loving your summer vacation! I find myself between trips (Just back from Japan, leaving for Portland’s Comprehensible Cascadia Conference on Monday!) and back in the hospital with my sweet grandma 😦  While she snoozes, I’m updating a few of my Back to School documents and I thought I’d share the Student Interest Survey that I ask my little darlings to fill out on the first day of school.  Feel free to make a copy so you can edit it for your little darlings.  (If your brain is already in Back to School Mode, check out my syllabus while you’re here.)

So…. let’s dive in! When my little darlings walk in on the first day of school, they grab this paper from their class drawer (that looks just like this– I have one drawer designated for each class period.)

Student interest survey, part 1

First you’re thinking…why so long?! That’s on purpose. I want them working on something right away so I can take attendance, deal with any placement issues and take their pictures (more on that later!) while they’re busy working. I want to send the message from the very start that there is no time for downtime in Spanish Class.

A few things: First of all, there’s a place to mark their gender. I’ve had a few students who don’t identify as male or female , and that’s why there is room to write something different if that applies.

I want to know if my students speak Spanish at home, so I can get them moved into our heritage class right away.  I like to know about the celebrities they love and hate…I’ll have my TA compile a list so I have it handy for questions and stories.(because let’s face it…I’m too old to know who’s cool these days!)

For questions 4. 5. and 6. I skim over those at the beginning but those don’t do much for me at the beginning of the year, but are great to revisit once I know my students better. When one of my little darlings turns into a little stinker, I like to refer back to his paper, especially these questions. I’ll look for common ground, things we can connect on to chat about. (So you play the guitar? How did you learn? What’s new with the Mountain Bike club? etc.– something, anything to talk about that shows I’m interested and I like them.)

Moving on…

Student interest survey, part 2

I love number 14, and as I’m reading their surveys, I keep a running list of questions to answer in class. I type them into a power point and answer them on the 2nd or 3rd day of class. They’re typically things like “How did you learn Spanish?” “Do you have any kids?” “Will this class be hard?”

Then on the back….

Student interest survey, part 3

Students write their name and class period with a marker in the box…meanwhile I’m using my phone to circulate and snap pictures of everyone holding up their name tag. I had a brilliant professor in in graduate school that did this to learn our names and then I read Martina Bex’s blog post about using pictures to learn their names so I thought I would give it a try. You guys…THIS IS A GAME CHANGER! I’m really awful at learning names and it used to take me 2 or 3 weeks to learn everyone’. I totally relied on name tents on their desks. But when we went deskless, I panicked….where would their name tent go?! How on earth would I learn 180 names without name tents?!

So I figured I would just have to learn everyone’s name much quicker:  Now I take their picture on ay 1, study the pictures that evening, review them before the next class and I’ve got their names (98%) down by the 2nd day of class. Something magical happens when you greet students on the 2nd day of class by name. It’s cool. They’re amazed. It sets a great tone. Try it. Trust me on this one. (Disclaimer: this hack only works if you actually do your homework and study their pictures!) I find it’s fastest to take pictures of 2 students at a time (since they’re seated in pairs) and make sure that their name tag is visible in the photo. While I’m taking pictures, students are working on the front side of the student interest survey and continue onto the back if there is time. The backside of the sheet, “5 most important things about you” is for the early finishers but reveals great information, things like “I am color blind, I can’t read green markers on the board” or “I can’t hear out of my left ear so please seat me on the right side of the classroom”. I don’t worry if kids don’t have time to finish (or start it) as long as they complete the first page.

When it’s time to pass them in, I’ll teach them our Paper Passing Procedures (Say that 10 times fast!) and they’ll pass them in and I’ll file them in my Student Info Binder. 

This Student Interest Survey is specifically for Spanish 1. The only addition I make for my other levels is to ask who their previous Spanish teacher was and what grade they got. I like I know where they came from the previous year (by the teacher’s name I know if it was a CI or Traditional classroom) and I like to know their grade because  there is a C or higher prerequisite for levels 2+.

And that’s that, folks!  Enjoy your summer and I’ll savor this sweet time with my grandma. If you’re the praying type, send up a prayer for her us 🙂


  1. Thank you for sharing!
    I’m also interested in your Paper Passing Procedures…share?!?😂😂

    Yes, prayers to you and your grandma.
    Big thnx


  2. I have been using a survey in middle school last year. I was always amazed at what kids wrote. You learn so much from these. I found it super helpful. I think I will update my survey. I really like your second page with the 5 pointers. Do you insist they answer every question?


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