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Community BuildingLesson Planning

Teacher Trivia : Building Classroom Community with a Twist!

By September 4, 2023September 8th, 2023No Comments

Navigating the start of the school year can feel a tad nerve-wracking, whether you’re a first-time kindergartener or a seasoned high school senior. But what if we could flip the script and put our teachers in the spotlight for once? Could this set the tone for students sharing more about themselves in the future?

That’s exactly what I did this year with a new and interactive twist – a “Get-to-Know the Teacher” that offered a peek into my world outside the classroom.

The Power of a Teacher-Trivia Picture Slideshow:

Teaching is not just about imparting knowledge; it’s also about fostering connections and making the learning experience memorable. The “Get-to-Know the Teacher” activity accomplishes both these goals with only a small amount of preparation. By sharing personal anecdotes and tidbits through pictures, you create an environment of transparency and camaraderie that sets a positive tone for the entire school year.

Step 1: Gathering Visual Stories

Scour your photos for pictures that tell a story about your life outside the classroom. Look for snapshots from a recent vacation, a childhood memory, a quirky hobby and even a snapshot of a pet. The key was to choose images that have an element of surprise or interest. I settled on a picture from a recent vacation with my husband, pictures of my daughters when they were little and more recently, a photo of my daughter’s dog, Colby and a picture of me surfing.

Step 2: Crafting Your Statements

Write 10 or so statements that compliment the pictures – some true and some false. Since I was unfamiliar with the language background of students who were new to my classes, I included both French and English versions of the statements on each slide. This way I could ensure that everyone understood the statements and could participate. Here’s a sampling of my questions:

  • Je suis mariée. (I am married).
  • J’ai deux filles et une belle fille. (I have two daughters and one bonus daughter)
  • Je peux faire du surf sur un lac (I can surf on a lake)
  • Je suis prof de Zumba (I am a Zumba instructor)

Step 3: Lively Guessing & Interaction

Now comes the enjoyable part! Present the slideshow to the class using a projector or interactive whiteboard, one slide at a time. Display each statement and allow the students time to guess. My students held up paddles with C’est la vérité (It’s the truth) on one side and C’est un mensonge (It’s a lie) on the other. As students displayed their answers, I chatted with them. It went something like this:

  • Hayden, tu crois que je ne suis pas prof de Zumba ! (Hayden, you believe that I am not a Zumba instructor)
  • JJ, tu crois que je suis prof de Zumba ! C’est intéressant. (JJ, you believe that I am a Zumba Instructor. This is interesting.)
  • 5 personnes pensent que je ne suis pas prof de Zumba. Je suis prof ou je ne suis pas prof ?! (5 people think I am not a Zumba teacher. Am I a Zumba teacher or not?)

Keep the conversations light-hearted and relatively short. The goal is for the students to hear key structures as many times as possible in a natural context. However, you do not want this to drag on so long that you lose student focus or interest.

Step 4: Revelations and Connecting

After the votes are in, reveal whether the statement is true or false, and share a story behind the picture in the target language. This is where students get a glimpse into your life beyond the classroom, and you have the opportunity to connect on a personal level.
I pointed to the pictures as I shared tidbits of appropriate information about my life in French. I supported my students with English when necessary and did comprehension checks from time to time.. The conversation went something like this:

Voilà une photo de mes filles, Bailey et McKenzie quand elles étaient très jeunes. On était à Sea Side en Floride. Aujourd’hui Bailey a 28 ans et elle habite à Lexington. Ça c’est McKenzie. Elle vient d’obtenir son diplôme de master à l’université de Kentucky. Elle va habiter et travailler près de Cincinnati.

Here is a picture of my daughters, Bailey and McKenzie when they were young. We were at Sea Side in Florida. Today, Bailey is 28 years old and lives in Lexington.This is McKenzie. She just received her masters from UK. She is going to live and work near Cincinnati.

Step 5: Follow-up and Reflection

The following day, I had students work in pairs to recall facts revealed in the presentation. I allowed them to document what they remembered in French or English. The point was to see what they could recall, not how well they could write in the target language.

After two to three minutes of reflection, we sat in a circle and, in the target language, shared what they remembered. Each time a student volunteered something that they recalled, I asked one or two follow-up questions in French for more details. While students shared, I wrote their answers on the board in the target language.

And there you have it – a lighthearted “Get-to-Know the Teacher” activity that infuses energy and playfulness into the start of the school year. Remember, school is not just about studying and exams; it’s also about forging connections, making memories, and discovering the wonderfully unique individuals who guide us along the way.

Donna Tatum-Johns

My passion is twofold: training teachers using comprehensible-input methods and strategies as well as teaching French using these same techniques. CI helps language classes come alive and allows students to enjoy acquiring a second language more naturally.

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