Here is a great activity for reading comprehension, listening and speaking. It can be for any level of instruction and for almost any topic… and it allows for some artistic creativity in the classroom as well.
Ok, so there is a little prep… make sure you have blank pieces of paper, colored pencils and/or markers. That’s it. I prefer to use long pieces bulletin board paper so students have lots of space. Ideally, find an open area in your building like a commons space. But a classroom will do just fine!
How to Get Started
If you are teaching a novel, divide the class into groups of 3-4, based on the number of chapters you wish to cover. Assign each group different chapters. Have students reread the chapters and highlight the major events. Then, on the piece(s) of paper, they need to draw the main events and label them in order of occurrence. If students are hesitant to draw, they can use clipart or magazine images. Emphasize that this is not art class...stick figures are fine! I have done this activity with students from elementary school through the university level. Play some music in the background as they collaborate.
Students can also generate sentences on a given topic within their group, then exchange their sentences with another group to draw. I have done this for a daily routine narrative using reflexive verbs. This requires a little bit of quality control on your part, as you will need to check sentences for accuracy before group switching.
The sentences can also be teacher-generated and cover any topic. This requires more prep. You can write a story, narrative, or find an article covering the current unit of study. For example, I have used this to teach hair color, eye color, family members, hobbies, review preterite/imperfect, indicative/subjunctive, and some higher level topics for AP such as politics, economy, and environment. Students take the main ideas and/or sentences and draw them on the paper. They can indicate the name of the character in the first drawing or assign a name to that person if necessary.
Switching Things Up
Instead of providing the written word, I have also dictated sentences to add a listening component. You can even pre-record sentences and have students listen to them and draw in small groups. This does take additional time, so plan accordingly.
Then, hang up the pictures grouped together by chapter, theme, chronological order...etc. on the walls. Make sure to spread them out so students are not yelling over each other. If the topic is new or complex, students can make up a “glossary” of key words beforehand and post it with their pictures.
Finally, have students move in their groups and walk around to discuss and/or narrate each set of pictures in the target language, consulting the glossary if provided. As the teacher, I walk around and offer encouragement and constructive feedback. I may take some notes and use this activity as a formative assessment. I remind students of the grammar structures, vocabulary, and transition words. I have done the casual stroll approach, and I have also set a timer to ensure time on task.
Take it to the Next Level: Extempore
Afterwards, take screenshots of some of the pictures and put them on Extempore and create questions from those pictures. Or, opt not to use the pictures and simply create questions about the chapter/topic/theme. Ask about a character, the plot, or their opinion on an article they read during the galley walk. Vary the questions between direct and those that require circumlocution, based on student ability. I have used this as an end of class activity, a homework assignment, or as a formal speaking exam.
This activity can be quick, or take as long as you would like. In the block schedule, you could probably do the drawings, the walk, and the Extempore activity in 90 minutes. You could draw the pictures one day and have the gallery walk the next day and then give the Extempore activity as homework. I have also used this activity for a review before an assessment. Whichever you choose, I hope you have fun with this activity!
This post is courtesy of Andrea Nazelli who is the Spanish department chair and teacher at Detroit Country Day School. See her post Keeping Students in the Target Language [Three Classroom Activities] for more activity ideas!