Class Activities

Taking Speaking Practice Outside

In my classroom, I have an outside door:

It's not quite this pretty anymore, but you get the idea.
It’s not quite this pretty anymore, but you get the idea.

Every once in awhile, when it’s a pretty day, I like to go outside for a short activity. I find that partner speaking activities work well outside. Today it was 65 degrees and sunny (I love Georgia weather!), so I printed a half-page handout with questions on one side and helpful phrases for answering on the back.  We formed two lines with partners facing each other. Students took turns asking and answering questions, and I walked around to listen and give feedback. A two minute timer on my phone reminded us when to switch roles (asking/answering), and we also changed partners once or twice, in order to get more reps of the questions. At the end, we huddled up for a chat, or I called out the questions to the group, and everyone answered at once. It was a nice change of scenery, and it was much easier to switch partners without all the classroom furniture in the way!


Sp 1 Unit 5: ¿Qué te gusta comer?, Teaching Reflections

Writing for Vocab Review

My students had a quiz today, so yesterday I needed an activity to review vocabulary. I thought about using Colleen’s Pictionary idea, but my students frequently disengage during games, particularly in my sleepy first period and wild seventh period. I came up with this activity on the fly, and was able to throw it together in five or ten minutes before class.  Basically, I projected a picture on the board, and asked students to write about it. Here are the rules:

Screenshot 2015-01-15 11.15.06

It’s low prep, and despite being a paper and pencil writing activity – something my students usually complain about – with the carrots of group work, competition, and a PRIZE, engagement was high! Here are some of the images I used:

food images

I offered a point for each word, but double points for sentences. Next time I think I’ll also offer a bonus for each unique transition or connector word – and, but, also, because, with, etc. I set the timer for a minute and a half, and let them count their own points when the timer beeped (I audited if necessary). I typed my own sentences, but hid them behind the picture, so I could quickly reveal my sentences to go over with the class, then hide again to be ready for the next class. It also served to model how to count the points, and groups got really excited when they could beat my point total! Overall, it served the purpose of reviewing vocabulary, but also got students working to create better and better sentences.

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Class Activities, Sp 1 Unit 3: What do you like to do?

Authentic Audio: Me gusta/No me gusta

Here are some links to Audio Lingua recordings of native Spanish speakers talking about their likes and dislikes:

1. Alejandra:

2. Edinson:

3. Paola:

4. María:

I had students set up a graphic organizer on their paper:

Screenshot 2014-10-01 09.47.29
Super low prep – no copies required!

I played them in the order listed above, as they get progressively more difficult. María speaks really fast, but my kids could still catch Me gusta fútbol! I played it multiple times and had them also listen for her age and the days of the week she practices.

Differentiation: I downloaded the files from Audio Lingua so I could save them in my dropbox and easily share with my department (and also still have them in case the internet went out). I used VLC media player to play them (a free download), and discovered that I could speed up and slow down the playback speed. So cool! So I played it once or twice at regular speed, slowed it down once, then played it again at the normal speed. Neat!

Screenshot 2014-10-01 09.47.14

Class Activities, Sp 1 Unit 2: Who am I?

Four Corners: Take vocabulary practice out of the classroom!

Last March, I went to an excellent presentation at FLAG by Lee Burson and Erin Smith called “Halls, Walls, and Using it All.” The presentation was all about creative ways to utilize your available space, getting students up and moving around. So here’s an activity I learned from them called four corners: basically, you just need four categories, and four separate physical areas – corners, walls, whatever. Label the areas, call out a word or phrase, and students decide which category it fits in, and move to that area. So, for example, my categories today were Soy, No Soy, Tengo, and No Tengo (I am, I’m not, I have, I don’t have).

2014-09-24 09.43.12

I call out a word or phrase in Spanish (blonde hair, artistic, lazy, brown eyes) and then direct my students to physically move to the appropriate areaAfter they sort themselves out, I have each group repeat the phrase – I have blonde hair/I don’t have blonde hair, I’m artistic/I’m not artistic. 


  • Review/reinforce descriptions vocabulary
  • Distinguish between I have phrases and I am phrases – let’s not say tengo alto or soy ojos azules
  • Practice masculine and feminine adjectives – when I had a gender-specific adjective, like artístico or perezoso,  I always had the guys and girls repeat separately – Chicos, repitan, “Soy artístico!” ok, chicas, repitan, “Soy artística!” 
  • Provide lots of comprehensible input for where to put the no – I want no soy and no tengo to just sound right, so I don’t get Tengo no lentes or Soy no alto on speaking or writing assessments.

Adapt it:

  • Do it in the hall with the signs taped up to the wall, or take it outside on a pretty day and let student volunteers hold the signs.
  • The options for categories are endless:
    • I like it, I like it a lot, I don’t like it, I hate it – use it for foods, activities, or school subjects
    • Sometimes, a lot, once in awhile, never – use it for activities, places around town, chores, daily routine verbs
    • In the morning, in the afternoon, at night – Again, activities or daily routine verbs
    • Breakfast, lunch, dinner – for categorizing foods/drinks
    • Alone, with my family, with my friends – maybe for working verb forms, ask Who do you ____ with? And the sentences could be, I study alone. My friends and I go to school together. My family and I watch TV together.  You could indicate other groups or individuals to get in the he/she and they forms.
  • Make it more challenging: after a few rounds, prompt each group of students to produce the sentence on their own, rather than repeating
  • Make it simpler: If you have TPR-able vocab, you can do this at the beginning of the unit and support comprehension of the phrases you call out by doing the gesture. You could also use picture cards to support comprehension (rather than clarifying in English) if the vocabulary doesn’t lend well to gesturing.