The First Few Weeks in a CI Classroom

Every teacher has his or her own take on the first few weeks. In fact, when you Google it, just a *few* results come up.


Check out the number of results! 🙂

How to begin the year in a CI class is something that I am asked about constantly. It is so challenging to know what you are “supposed” to do. I’ll admit that I regularly change my mind about what is the MOST important, and each year looks slightly different, but the parts that have stayed the same over the last few years are building relationships and setting up routines and procedures.  I believe that these are the two most important things to do WELL at the beginning of the year.  I was talking about this yesterday with one of my mentors, Connie Navarro, and she remarked that there’s a reason that Harry Wong wrote an entire book about the first few days!

I know that there are many takes on the first few weeks in the world of CI, so if 90% TL works for you from day 1, awesome! However, I intentionally use English for very specific parts of class throughout the first couple weeks, mostly teaching routines and procedures.  As always, I reserve the right to completely change my opinion on this in the future, but for now, here is my plan for this year.

Day 1:


My AWESOME parents helped make my posters!

Day one will look very similar to the post I wrote last year. However, I am not teaching Spanish 1a this year, so all of my students will have already had one or more years of CI.

When students enter, the seating chart will be posted.

I’ll take attendance and ask a few questions here and there, and then I’ll jump into SPANISH! I’ll start off with asking a few questions (how are you, what’s your name) and do a huge TPR review.  I have a few different slides prepared with words as well as posters with all my TPR words.


At the end of Day 1, students will take a Testing Environment Survey.  They’ll answer questions regarding their seating preference for taking the DPS Proficiency Assessment which we’ll start the following day.  I have fold-up tables and clipboards to use with my chairs. Last year, I gave this survey before students took the post-test in April, and it eliminated ALL complaints and confusion about seats.  I give this ahead of time rather than just telling students to sit where they feel most comfortable as they enter the class because it then allows me to make a seating chart based on preferences rather than them picking a spot based on friends.

This may seem like a lot of work for something that is not overly important, but it does a few things for students.  First, it shows students that from the first day of school, I value and honor that their preferences.  Secondly, there are some students in my classes who feel very strongly that writing at tables is important to their success, and I don’t want to undermine their achievement! Lastly, this is only my second year of being deskless, and  this was kind of a “CYA” in case I had any push-back over “forcing” kids to write on their laps.

I am a big advocate of letting students be in charge of their learning and have a say in things…it goes along way toward getting BUY-IN from students!!!

Day 2-5:

DPS Proficiency Assessment: Students enter and follow the Do Now (sit in your assigned seat, get out a pencil, put everything under your chair, homework: bring a free reading book each day this week in case you finish the assessment early).

If there is time left at the end of class, I have options! Depending on the class and how much time is left, I will either do a TPR review, Simon Says, or play a game or brain break activity as an incentive.  I also have the option to begin going through my Epic List of Procedures (explained in the lesson plan below).

Day 6 – Day 14ish:

During this time, I follow this lesson plan.


Day 15ish:

I look at a variety of factors: exit quizzes, students’ needs, if we have finished the Epic List of Procedures, etc., and I decide how to proceed.  Last year in Spanish 2, I created a review unit related to the theme of natural disasters (because there were a lot happening in the world).  I downloaded articles and presentations from some incredible colleagues on the iFLT /NTPRS/ CI Teaching Facebook group and pulled high-frequency vocabulary from these resources.  I taught this vocab using TPR, PQA, storytelling, and reading activities.  At the end of the unit, students compared and contrasted the different natural disasters! While I won’t teach the same review unit this year, I’ll do something similar.

After the review unit, I’ll jump into the vocab from our Scope and Sequence! 🙂

Happy back to school!!!!!!!!!!!


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