Socially Distanced Fun in language classrooms

So our district has announced a Hybrid Model, where students alternate between an online day and an in-person day. Teachers  are at at school teaching every day, but with smaller classes, social distancing and masks for all. Sing with meA whole new world!

So, rather than mourning all the things we can’t do (and trust me, there has been a whole lot of mourning) here are some ways we can have a little fun, while staying 6 feet apart. And we’re going to have to get creative in the fun department because not much about this new reality sounds fun for anyone, but especially not for our Little Darlings! 

In addition to Socially Distanced Brain Breaks, here are some other ways we can put the ‘fun’ in dysfunctional. And in full disclosure, I’m writing this from my house, I’m not back to school yet, so I imagine that these will all work in a socially distanced classroom, but I haven’t tested them out….yet!

Aplausos especiales

These have been a staple in my classroom for a long time…since my very first year of teaching when Susie Gross did a “4th of July” applause at a training and I was hooked! It’s just so much fun! When ever a student (or the whole class!) does something awesome, they get a special applause.  I think they’ll be perfect for a socially distanced classroom! Here’s a whole post about them with videos and everything!

Here’s a video from last year…you’ll notice that I am not masked or shielded or teaching with the fear of COVID in my eyes…Stay tuned, this year’s videos are going to be something special. 

 

 

Partner Up!

I have my Little Darlings partner up all the time…mostly just when I need them to move then refocus…which obviously is going to have to look much different this year! I’m still planning on using my animal sheets ,  but instead of them physically get up and talking to their friends to fill out their animal partner sheet with their classmates’ names, I’m going to instruct everyone to stay at their seat (maybe even stand on their chair, if I’m feeling brave and we need something dangerous to pep us up!) and holler to their friends to fill in their animal sheet.  Since my classes will be smaller, I think 15 max in any one period, it shouldn’t get too crazy, right?!  “HEY, CHAD! WILL YOU BE MY COW PARTNER!??!?!”  I think this sounds pretty hilarious. You can download the Compañeros de la granjafree and check out my TPT store The Chase Place to purchase other animal partner pages. 

animales

So once they’ve filled out their partner page…HOW DO THEY WORK WITH A PARTNER, WHILE STAYING 6 FEET APART?! This is a question that has kept me awake many a night. Here’s what I’m planning:

Thankfully, we are a one-to-one Google School and everyone has a Chromebook. (And in a perfect world, every kid brings their charged and in working order Chromebook to class every day. ) They’ll all fire up their Chromebook and join a Google Meet with their partner, so they can chat, converse, retell the story, discuss their weekends, etc. Since in my school, students cannot initiate Google Meets, I’ll link this document in Google Classroom and assign each pair a number, which will give pair a Google Meet Link (and I believe, since I created all the links, if they record them, the recordings will be sent. So I’ll say “Kristy y Martina, número 1”, and those girls will both click on the first link, so they’re both in the same Google Meet and they can chat with their buddies while keeping a safe distance. I will ask them to record the meet, to give just a touch of accountability and I believe all the recordings will come to my Google Drive, since I set up the links. I’m a little worried about feedback with so many google meets open in the room, but I *think* it will be OK if they’re using headphones and mics…we’ll see!

 Google Links

I emailed our fabulous IT staff about this, who also informed me that we’ll have access to new Google Meet features in the fall, which will allow us to create breakout rooms. I haven’t yet played with breakout rooms, but that might be another way for partners to chat in real time without sitting next to their buddy. 

Chócala de lejos

Since High Fives are out of the question (which for me is going to be a HUGE adjustment!) we’ll definitely be doing Chócala de lejos, but you know what would be even more fun?! Making secret long distanced handshakes!!! I can envision this going a few different ways…maybe kids get a chance to figure out their handshake with an animal partner and when everyone needs a break, you tell them to stand up and give the Pig Partner the secret long distanced handshake. That sounds fun right?! Or maybe there’s a class secret long distanced handshake…maybe a few kids make suggestions and the class votes and then learns the super secret long distance handshake. What if we did it often? Maybe when something happens (the announcements come on/ the phone rings/ the lights turn off ) they all do the super secret long distanced handshake. I just love it when we create special little routines and rituals and inside jokes that everyone is on the inside of. You guys, I am especially excited about this one!

Mask Breaks…. WHAT?!

First of all, let me just preface this one…I’ve got to check with my principal on this one! BUT…IF we can go out onto the Soccer Field, spread waaaaaaay out, take those masks off, breathe deep and do a little Spanish yoga, I think that would go a long way for everyone’s sanity! And since I’m envisioning my kiddos spread waaaaaaay apart, I am considering a Bullhorn to give them instructions…in comprehensible Spanish of course! (and while we’re on the subject of voice amplification, I bought this Brittney Spears Wireless Microphone so that I can be loud and clear for my Little Darlings, even while masked.  At the beginning of the year, in addition to our usual gesture to indicate that I’m not comprehensible, I am also going to ask them to signal if they want me to turn my volume up or down on my sweet new portable amplifier on my belt. Just when they thought Señora Chase couldn’t get any cooler…

Made you laugh

Growing up, my sister and I used to always play “Made you laugh”. The objective is to make the other person laugh first…Maybe this would be another fun ritual. Check your Animal sheet, Stand Up, Look at your partner, and try to make them laugh. Maybe we’ll call it¡Hazme reír! Might be fun, might be a flop…I’ll let you know in August!

 

Mirror Mirror

Similarly, partners could face each other, from across the room and mirror each other’s actions. But let’s up the fun factor just a bit and make it a game! What if the teacher says, “Stand up and look at your Horse Partner. Decide who will initiate the actions and who will mirror the actions, Go!” And while the students are mirroring away, the teacher has to figure out which students are partners, of course narrating it in slow and comprehensible Spanish!! Once the teacher figures out that Jessica and Raúl are partners, they sit down. And because our goal is always to load the Little Darlings up with comprehensible input, take your time figuring it out! Are Reina and Kyle partners…no, they can’t be partners. Kyle is jumping but Reina is touching her head…Hmmm….Maybe Shelby is Reina’s partner, let’s watch…

 

Fun, right!? So much fun that you can’t wait to don your mask and face shield, strap on your portable amplifier and wireless microphone and stand in front of a bunch of germy kiddos, right!? Maybe not? I’m with you, there’s so much about this situation that is awful and scary.  But stick around, I’ve got some ideas.  I’m committed to figure out how to still load my Little Darlings up with Comprehensible Input, still make my class enjoyable and keep myself and them safe in the process.  This is hard, but we can do hard things. 

Stay safe, my friends! 

6 Comments

  1. I especially love the Mirror, Mirror game. I love that the output burden is on the teacher, not the students and I can see getting lots of reps in for those -ing endings, or whatever else I want to talk about. Sounds like fun!

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  2. I love these ideas!!! One tech warning – I’ve been in zoom meetings in which someone has multiple devices in the same room tuned to the same meeting, and the sound quality is terrible with lots of feedback and echoes. I don’t know if that would be true for google meets as well, but you might have to send all the “Partner A”s out in the hall or something to save the verbal conversation quality.

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    1. Ohhh, that’s a good point. I wonder if they use earbuds with a microphone if it would help. Thanks for the heads up and we’ll play with it when we get to school!

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