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Maria Monte Clemens, kindergarten through 4th grade Spanish teacher at Prospect Sierra in El Cerrito California.
My name is Maria Montes Clemens. I teach kindergarten through 4th grade Spanish at Prospect Sierra in El Cerrito, California. I’ll be sharing name learning strategies because knowing your students’ names are key not only to class management, but very important in helping create relationships with students.
When teachers know their students’ names, kids are more likely to stay on task because they know that they are being seen. Students feel more valued and invested in your lessons. Kids feel more comfortable getting help, and it feels easier to talk with the teacher. These strategies are for all classroom settings and I find that for those of us who struggle with names, these three strategies are very helpful:
- Name and personal attribute cards.
- How to syllable out your name with an action game.
- Circle name memory game.
The “Name and Personal Attribute” strategy is a way to get to know my students and I can also make any adjustments from the official roster to the name that the students want to be called. My official name on the school roster is Maria Guadalupe Monte Clemens, but I want to be called Lupe. Students should do the same when they fill out their card. What is the name that they want to use? It’s really important that we get to know each other right away and when they get their name card, I want them to fill out a prompt on their tab.
The name cards can have several different prompts like my name is , and my favorite color is… , or my name is , and my favorite animal is… . When the short writing activity is complete, we sit in a circle at the rug with legs crossed. Students introduce themselves, according to how they filled out their name cards. For example, my name is Lupe and I like to garden. I save all the cards and I keep them at the students’ assigned seats so that they can clearly see everyone’s names throughout the day.
With the second game, the “Syllable Out Your Name With an Action” game, I have the kids stand in a circle. Then one by one I tell each student to say their name out loud while picking one action for a syllable of their name. For example, my name is Maria and has three syllables. I might clap my hands for “Ma”. I might shape my hips for “Ri” and then stomp my right foot for “A”. After I’m done saying my name, I have the entire group repeat my name with the actions Ma, Ri and then A ,stomping my foot for the A.
Once the second person says their name, the group should repeat the second name and action combination and then repeat mine. Repeat for the third person and then go around the circle until everyone’s name has been said. That is the “Syllable Out Your Name” game.
For the last game, the Circle Name Memory Game, each student thinks of a descriptive word that starts with the same letter of their name. For example, me it’s Maria. So it’s “Magical Maria”, or it could be “Magnificent Maria”. Each student is going to take turns introducing themselves to the group, using their own describing words. The challenges is when it’s your turn, each student needs to say all of the students name that came before this. For instance, if you’re the third person after Andres and Will you need to say “Amazing Andres” and “Wonderful Will” before you introduce yourself. You can always ask the circle to restart at the beginning if you can’t remember the pattern, and then it’s back to you. When the last person in the circle successfully introduce the themselves to the room, the game is over.
I have used these three strategies at the start of the year and whenever a new student starts partway through the school year. I have also found the attribute and memory game to be very helpful after a holiday break in order to refresh my memory on the student’s names. You can also use these as brain breaks after students have been sitting for a long period of time and you’re not done with a lesson but students need a mid lesson stretch.
I find that these strategies are great for learning and reviewing your students names. These are also a lot of fun for students and for me. I hope that you find these three strategies as much fun as my students and I have found them when using them. Enjoy.