Full disclosure: I absolutely cannot take credit for this. I stole this idea from here. I don't know how I stumbled on it, but it is AMAZING.
You know how your students say annoying things that you can't seem to fix? It's not their fault; it's their acquisitional orders getting in the way of all things important, and, like nails on a chalkboard, they KEEP SAYING una problema…un otro…gracias para.
Enter the password <-- total pun
When the students come to class at the start of the period, meet them at the door. I have my contraseña displayed in our window, and they simply say it back to you. They do that for a couple days, and BOOM...brainwashed. In addition, I used to be running around like a chicken with my head cut off before class, but now, I force myself to stop cutting paper strips, erasing boards, etc, and to meet them at the door. We connect. I pay a compliment. I ask about their day. I can give a pat on the back. Remind someone to come in and take a missed assessment. And I'm just standing there, for once, in a busy teacher-day.
I don't have any hard data (yet), but I can tell you that after one of our passwords Gracias por estar aquí, NOT ONE of my students wrote gracias para on their written interpersonal assessment. A few students did ask for clarification on un problema, which launched me into an explanation of word origin, which was probably overkill, but they don't say it anymore. It makes my heart so happy.
Alina Filipescu has a great list of her contraseñas, so check those out. Here are some of ours for this year:
No hay ni un problema.
Gracias por estar aquí
Me da muy mal rollo <-- that cleared up some Internado confusion
¡Qué tengas buen fin de semana!
Me importa un pimiento
Lo que quiero es _____________________. <-- They filled in the blank I heard felicidad, paz, una buena nota, un burrito de carne asada...
Hubo un terremoto horrible (or other news)
Por favor, dígame la verdad. (my intention was to drill the command into their heads, but I actually did tell them the "truth". These were things like: You have the best smile that I see all day. If I were a student, we'd be friends. I think you say crazy things to hide something that you don't want us to see <--that was to my most wacky of students, and that connection made for a huge, positive shift in behavior. One girl cried because she "finally felt understood" and we had to have a class huddle. In other words, powerful stuff.
Homecoming week: a new dance each day: merengue, salsa, Danza Kuduro, etc. It's hilarious.
In some of our MesaMima units, you'll find a list of great passwords to use in that unit. We created them based on the linguistic errors that we wanted to brainwash out of our kids, plus they also create great structured input that becomes part of their word bank.
I have the kids keep a running list of their contraseñas, and I may even recycle a few during the year. Better yet, I might just assign small groups to investigate idiomatic expressions and make those the contraseñas for a few weeks!
Disclosure #2: There are days when I get stuck doing something. Maybe you move classrooms, maybe you shift from first year to fourth year in a five minute passing period AND have to go to the bathroom. No problem. I sometimes don't meet them at the door. I've had the kids look at the person next to them and finish the sentence, then we share a few. Sometimes the first couple kids will trickle in and say it to me, but then I look at the group, ask a few kids for the password, or even ask for a volunteer, then have the whole class say it! Totally works.
Try it. You'll love it. Best of all...it requires NO PREP, other than writing it down.
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