Illustrating to show comprehension

In search of a quick input-based activity that you can use either in a remote or in-person setting? Have students draw the scenes of a story.

Illustrations are a great way that students can show comprehension of the material. In the past, I’ve used a random chapter of a audiobook from a novel and had students draw what is happening. I divide the chapter out ahead of time, and then play the segment, pausing at each interval to give students time to draw.

In previous years, I’ve had students act out my story “Erika quiere un uncornio” in class and then had students read an illustrated text, which is available in this product. But being remote this year, I needed to do something different. Since the story didn’t have any new structures and included ones that we’ve already been practicing, I had students read the captions and then illustrate during class time. At the end, students showed their pictures on camera as I read the text outloud.

This is an easy activity to set up with any text.

  1. Write a few phrases of a story on a powerpoint slide
  2. Underline phrases that you want students to re-write by labeling their illustration
  3. Save the Powerpoint as a PDF
  4. Open the PDF and then choose Print and change the layout to print 6 pages per sheet (This works much better than printing 6 slides per sheet directly from PowerPoint)
  5. Share with students or Post a digital copy
  6. If using remotely, students can choose to print and illustrate in the space OR they simply look at the PDF on their computer and draw on a piece of paper
  7. If using remotely, teacher can read the text and students hold up their illustration to the camera.

I make sure to tell students that I am not judging their artwork but looking to see how descriptive their illustration is, in other words, does it include as much detail from the text as possible?
When I first did this I asked students to label their illustrations, but many did not, so instead I underlined certain phrases that I want them to label on their drawing. But I would also be clear that they also need to illustrate the rest of the text as well and not just what is underlined.

If you want this lesson, which is 100% ready to use as soon as you download it, you can purchase it from our TeachersPayTeachers storefront.

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Drag and Drop Audio with Google Slides

Spanish Drag and Drop Listening Activity on Google SlidesNow that most of us are giving classes virtually, how can we adapt our listening activities to an online format? Even if you are presenting it LIVE as a class over a video Meeting, it’s always best to provide an option for those who were absent or whose connection dropped.

Google Forms is great option – you can upload an image to a survey and turn it into a quiz to automatically grade. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have any integration with audio. The only workaround I’ve seen is putting the url of the audio file from google drop into the question that students need to click on which will open a new tab. Yuck! Inserting an audio into Google Slides is easy– but it does need to be an MP3, so if you have it saved as another file, you will need to use a converter site or you can use to easy record and save audio files to then upload to your Google Drive. Watch our video tutorial below to find out how to create these drag-and-drops on Google Slides.

Anyway, let’s get to the pedagogy of it all. How can I use this in my World Language class? Continue reading

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Remote Learning: El Tigre Tiene Hambre

Our second week of remote learning is underway and we wanted to share with you what we’ve been up to.

El Tigre tiene hambre for distance learningMy set-up

All my students are working from home. I have the option to work from my classroom and I have my laptop for presenting. I also have the classroom computer logged in to the Google Meet grid view (and projected on the board for me to see my students and what the presentation looks like).

Most of my students have their cameras on (a district mandate that I don’t enforce) but I do tell them that having them react I can tell if they are understanding the story or not. The best way was to ask yes/no questions and have students nod or shake their heads. I would call on students to turn their mic on (using the shortcut of “control+ d” on keyboard is a timesaver!) and answer more specific questions. I used the chat to type in translations of key words that I would normally write on the board or point to on posters in my classroom. I also have these Zoom TPRS labels to hold up. Continue reading

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Distance Learning Memes

It wouldn’t be a back to the school year without us posting our favorite memes. We started making memes years ago and even launched our own website for teacher memes (since discontinued).

This summer we’ve been working on Distance Learning Memes, dealing with our new reality of teaching via Google Classroom, Screencastify, and Zoom sessions. While we insist on compassion and understanding for our students during these times, these memes will hopefully provide a laugh. It may be a good way to set expectations with your students or to start building relationships with them through humor.

The following is a sampling of our favorites, all of which are included in our latest product Remote Learning Memes, which is an editable document so you can fully customize the text of over 120 memes. The images in the product come without any branding or watermarks. If you like what you see here, please share by pinning on Pinterest, sharing on Twitter, or tagging us on Instagram. Continue reading

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Starting the Year Remotely

It’s something we never expected. Something we are not trained for. And yet millions of teachers will start the year remotely this fall, embarking on a journey unlike any other. Meeting your students for the first time on Zoom and trying to build a relationship through Google Classroom will certainly be a challenge.

I certainly don’t have all the answers yet and I, too, will be leaning on my colleagues’ advice and posts on social media. Here are a few resources that I’ve gathered that might help you this year.

1) (FREE) My First MovieTalk: We released this free product last year as a way to introduce teachers to the MovieTalk method. This product includes 7 screenshots in a PowerPoint to tell a simple story (as opposed to our more language-robust booklet of the same video). You can use this during a Live Session or even record a video and post it to your learning management system (Google Classroom/Canvas/etc.).

2) FVR Digital Library: Even if you are back in the classroom, most schools have Spanish FVR Digital Library Bundle available on TeachersPayTeachersa recommendation against sharing materials between students. That makes using your classroom FVR library problematic. One thing that you can do to continue to get your students reading is to purchase materials that can be legally shared digitally. This FVR Bundle includes 17 texts that you can legally post on Google Classroom for students to read.

3) MovieTalk: Whether you embed the actual video into Edpuzzle and use comprehension checks along the way (Kara Jacobs is amazing at this) or you use screenshots from the video and add texts, videos are always an easy way to make language comprehensible because of the visuals that aid comprehension. Check out these MovieTalks.

4) Social Justice: I’ve made a commitment to increase diversity in my curriculum. In addition to my Dolores Huerta Unit, and the Mujeres Poderosas free bulletin board, I will be adding lessons about more of those featured women, as well as other important people who have made an impact in our history who have typically been silenced. I hope to have more to share with you this year.

Also, don’t miss out on these limited deals on our new CLEARANCE section. We currently have stamps and more that have been slashed by nearly 50%. Check it out on

5) Google Classroom:
Check out our new Bundle including headers for Google Classroom and Backgrounds for Google Slides.

Check out our other new products for this fall:




Good luck this year, my friends!

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White privilege of Names

As you may know, I have devoted several blog posts over the years to the issue of assigning or letting students choose “Spanish names” in the Spanish classroom. Now with many more teachers being more aware of what white privilege is and how our education system is already part of a white supremacist system, I wanted to bring this topic back up so that teachers who may continue to engage in this practice are able to reflect.

How does this practice fit into white privilege? White students who take on the name “Nacho” or “Margarita” only wear that identity for fun in their Spanish class. It does not come with the discrimination that Latinos who live with that name face on a regular basis in this country. Don’t think people are discriminated against because of their names?

“Job applicants with white names needed to send about 10 resumes to get one callback; those with African-American names needed to send around 15 resumes to get one callback.”NBER

I encourage you to read the following blog posts, but more importantly, the comments section, where you will hear the perspectives of other teachers. I encourage you to engage in a civil discussion on these posts and be reflective.

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Why students use google translate and what teachers can do

What to do when students use google translateDuring the quarantine, I’ve seen a lot of teachers complaining about students submitting work in which they’ve used Google Translate. The problem is not new for language teachers, but without being able to have all writing done in the classroom during distance learning, the problem is now more relevant than ever. So,  why do students use translators and what can we do about it?

Why students use translators?

Continue reading

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Google Classroom Tips

Some teacher tips for using Google Classroom during “Remote learning” Continue reading

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Rally Re-order

The following is a guest post that I invited Rich Madel to write after he mentioned this activity on twitter.

All world language teachers focused on providing rich, compelling, and comprehensible input to their students know the struggle: How can we mask the repetition of the same information, vocabulary, and structures in such a way that it seems novel and interesting and our students feel authentically compelled to engage with making meaning of the input?

We all know the value of repetition of vocabulary and structures embedded in strategies such as PQA (personalized questions and answers), TPRS, Movie Talk, and more. Today, leveled readers are written with this very focus in mind, often telling a compelling story by recycling little more than the same 150 words (in the case of some novice-level readers).

Telling the story is only one opportunity for input, however. What we do before the story and what we do after are critical opportunities to provide quality interactions with target language vocabulary and structures. One such strategy often used as a post-storytelling activity is for students to place scrambled events in their appropriate chronological order.

Working to order scrambled events from a story is a time-tested task that serves a dual purpose: it reinforces key moments from the plot that aides in comprehension and creates an opportunity for the teacher to repeat and reuse communicatively-embedded input. But let’s be honest, it’s not always the most exciting.

To that end, I present an event reorder challenge that takes the activity we all know and love and injects it with steroids. The end result is a whole class challenge that is exciting, promotes collaboration and communication, and vastly increases the repetition of the key events. Let’s call it, Rally Reorder! Below are the steps to prepare and conduct the activity. Continue reading

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CI during MMM

What I love about March Music Madness is that students get a peek into what music is popular in other parts of the world. It’s a way to connect our students to the language. Who doesn’t love music? When you have students start singing a song in class or telling you how they listen to the songs at home, you know it’s doing its magic.

As Dustin Williamson says: “Quite honestly, MMM is more about having fun, listening to music, being exposed to different genres and making March better in my classroom.”

I look for music that is A) Current (from the previous year only), B) Popular and not obscure and C) appropriate. This year our bracket has 25 artists, 7 women, 9 countries and over 2.3 billion hits on YouTube. It also includes different genres including Bachata, Pop, Urbana, y Regional Mexicano.

Providing Comprehensible Input during March Music MadnessStudents don’t need to understand the lyrics of the whole song to enjoy it. How many of us listen to English music and get the lyrics wrong or don’t understand everything? The music is the hook so don’t worry if the song is not 100% comprehensible. However, you can go over certain high-frequency parts of the song to introduce new words or point out a word they know in a new context but most of the language that we use in class is to describe the song, opinions of it, talk about how many votes it has and which song they think will win.

The language we use to TALK ABOUT the songs and talk about the voting process is just as important as listening to the songs themselves.

Continue reading

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