Back to Spanish Class: 9 Ways to Be a Happier Teacher

Tuesday, August 15, 2017 / Leave a Comment
No matter what, it is always hard going back to school. I always try to look on the bright side though, and setting goals for the new school year helps. Here are a few ways that have helped me be a happier Spanish teacher. I hope they might inspire you as well.

1. Buy yourself some nice supplies.

Get yourself some flair pens, you deserve them! I get nice supplies for my students too. I always invest in a class set of Astrobright card stock paper, new markers, and colored pencils. Get your materials organized and express expectations that students take good care of the materials, too. I swear students put in more effort and are actually more respectful of materials when they have nice things to work with and take ownership for their use.

2. Set a goal to try something new in class.

Maybe you want to get students speaking more in Spanish, try out IPAs instead of traditional tests or quizzes, or introduce a whole class novel study or Free Voluntary Reading (FVR) into your classes. Maybe you're getting rid of homework this year, flipping the class so all homework is assigned online, or have some new ideas for how to spice up homework. Maybe your goal is something more general like increased collaborative learning, more inquiry style learning, or aligning your lessons to ACTFL practices.

No matter the topic, your goal should be realistic and specific. How exactly will you accomplish it? How will you measure your progress? Write down your goal. Check in with yourself and revise your strategy as needed throughout the year. Take time to reflect on the journey. Nothing is perfect the first time around, but how will we grow if we never try anything new?

3. Build community in your classroom.

Making your classroom a positive, safe space for students is one of the best ways to be a happy teacher. Behavior problems go away and you and your students can really enjoy being with each other. It may seem a little tricky, because every class has such a unique dynamic of different students with their own needs, expectations, and personalities. Here are a few tried and true ways to create good vibes in Spanish class that have worked for me.

4. Observe fellow teachers.

I know it seems like you don't have time to get into another teacher's classroom to observe. But make time. It can be as simple as dropping in for 5 minutes to observe how Mrs. A starts her class or visiting for 10 minutes to observe how Mr. B ends class. This is one of the best ways to learn new ideas and reinforce what you're already doing right (or what you want to change) in your own classroom. Oh, and don't just observe the other foreign language teachers or your teacher friends. Get in a variety of classrooms.

5. Get more involved in extracurriculars.

Taking on a club, coaching, or volunteer position at your school can be such a great way to interact with students in a different way, outside of the classroom. Spanish club always needs a sponsor, right? Or think about starting up a Spanish Honor Society. If you don't have the time or opportunity to do something quite so formal, consider attending more school events like student concerts, performances, athletic events, family evenings, school dances, etc.

6. Play more games in class.

Making my classroom a fun and engaged learning environment is a sure way to make me a happy teacher. So bring on the games! Plus, pedagogically, games can be an amazing way to provide comprehensible input in a way that really engages students. I use modified versions of classic games like Guess Who, Scattergories, and Taboo in Spanish. Or conversation Jenga is always fun. Maybe you get your students outside and play around with sidewalk chalk, prompting them to show their language skills in a way that doesn't require boring paper and pencil. And there are always so many different ways you can play guessing games with Spanish vocabulary, ranging from Pictionary to learning stations to Scoot.

For even more ideas, Sherry and I run a Pinterest board for Spanish games and fun, be sure to check it out, we're always adding more new ideas as we find them.

7. Collaborate more with other Spanish teachers. 

You have great ideas to share. They have great ideas to share. Why not work together to learn and grow? Option 1: Attend your local conferences and workshops and get to know people. These tips for getting the most out of a workshop might help! Option 2: Connect with other teachers online. Not sure where to start? This step by step guide to how to get started collaborating with Spanish teachers on social media might help.

8. Get student feedback and change accordingly.

As teachers we must monitor and adjust! When we are responsive to our students' needs, interests, and abilities, students are better able to succeed and class is more fun. That's the perfect combo for a happy teacher if I've ever heard it. I am a data nerd myself, so always want to know more about where my students are at. I love Holly's discussion of how she uses surveys in her secondary Spanish classes if you're looking to start using these.

9. Eat lunch, please! And while you're at it, go to the bathroom.

Enough said! Take care of yourselves, teachers.

We are in one of the most important professions out there, and deserve to be HAPPY! Thank you for all you do and have a great year!


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Back to Spanish Class: Teaching Tips to Get Excited for the First Week of School!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017 / Leave a Comment
Back to Spanish Class:  Teaching Tips to Get Excited for the First Week of School!

Back to School Teaching Tips for World Language Teachers

Hey guys!  Let me guess - if you haven't started school yet, you're getting a little nervous about the first day, the first week, and which students will be in your classes this year.  Yep, that little pit of anxiety growing more and more as the first day approaches. Well, I have a few new strategies for you to help relieve some of your worries . . .

1.  Let this be the year that you are EXCITED for the first day instead of nervous.  

*  Take a second to recognize when you are feeling those back to school jitters.  Every time that you find yourself feeling or talking about being anxious, use the word "excited" instead.  Say your new positive sentence out loud or even better, write it down.  Writing your goals really helps preset your brain to help accomplish them.  
Old Way of Thinking:   
"I'm very nervous about who my students will be.  Sometimes I get really challenging classes."

New Way of Thinking:
"I'm so excited to meet my students on the first day and I bet they're really excited to meet me.  Can't wait to support the uniqueness of each student and watch them grow as students and people throughout the year."

(Even just writing this second sentence got my brain focused in a more positive direction.  I started thinking . . .)

 "Hmm . . . how can I focus on the strengths that each student brings?  How can I accentuate their positive qualities?  If I'm really excited and enthusiastic, they probably will be, too. How am I not only going to help them learn Spanish, but also teach them to be kind, to study efficiently, and to become contributors in our global economy?" 

Old Way of Thinking:
"I'm so sad that summer is over.  I'm really not looking forward to grading papers - so much work and I'm always so tired."

New Way of Thinking:
"Wow!  I had a great summer, but I'm also looking forward to a fresh start and a chance to shape young minds.  I'm lucky to have such a meaningful job where I'm really making a difference (even if I can't always see it).  This year, I'm going to implement a few new strategies so that I get my work done at school and bring very little home.  I know if I stay focused and plan well, I can do this.  That way, I'll be able to focus on my family, friends, and squeeze in some me-time when I come home.

Back to Spanish Class:  Teaching Tips to Get Excited for the First Week of School!

Old Way of Thinking:
"Some of my colleagues are great, but I wish I had a stronger group of colleagues who loved to share new ideas, collaborate on projects, and even just to joke around with from time to time.  Sometimes I feel really lonely at school."

New Way of Thinking:
"How cool is it that I can now connect with online World Language colleagues from all over the world.  I learn so many innovative ideas, (Minuto loco, Música miércoles, Trifold Flashcards, Conjugation Bracelets, Differentiated Instruction Units) get great new resources, and best of all, they make me laugh with their crazy memes that only World Language teachers understand.  Plus, there are tons of amazing teacher blogs - love reading these and continually challenging myself to be a better teacher."

Speaking of blogs - did you know that each of us here at Secondary Spanish Space also has her own blog?

Honestly, my Spanish teacher friends in this group are a seriously inspiring group of chicas!  I read their blog posts and . . .

A.  Learn something completely new that I had never thought of doing before.

B.  Feel like I'm hanging out with a good friend who gets me and my Spanish teacher woes.

C.  Laugh out loud because these chicas crack me up!!

Allison - Mis Clases Locas 
Catharyn - Sol Azucar
Dianna - La Profe Plotts
Elisabeth - Spanish Mama
Emilie - Island Teacher 
Sherry - World Language Cafe (That's me!)

What a powerhouse group of Spanish teachers!  I learn so much from each of these amazing women every week.  Hope you do, too!

Well, I originally planned to include 8-10 Back to School teaching tips in this post, but got so "excited" about the first one that it was all I could fit.  Hop on over to the Teaching Tips section of my blog to check out a few more such as:

* Advice for a First Year Teacher (also good for veteran teachers)

Wishing you a wonderful start to your school year!  I'm so EXCITED!!!  How about you?

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Back to Spanish Class: Getting Started With Interactive Notebooks

Wednesday, August 2, 2017 / 3 comments
Sometimes in teaching, it's the little things that create the biggest headaches. Paper can be one of the those things: lost papers, late papers, loose papers. And of course, all of that means lost time. Many teachers are turning to interactive notebooks as a solution. INBs can be a streamlined process of keeping everything in one place, through student-created materials. 

Here in this post, you'll find info on getting started and some examples. (If you are thinking INBs aren't for you, read 5 Common Myths on Interactive Notebooks-- just in case.)

Sometimes you just need to see an idea in action. We'll start off with some videos showing interactive notebooks from different teachers.
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Using Sheltered Videos for Comprehensible Input

Tuesday, July 25, 2017 / Leave a Comment
Hi all! It's Catharyn, here, and I would like to introduce our very first Secondary Spanish Space guest blogger, Angie Torre. Angie has been a French and Spanish Teacher for over 30 years. She is an author and curriculum developer with a focus on comprehensible input. We SSS-ers love her blog and her AP language resources on TpT. Hope you enjoy her guest post! ~Catharyn

Why and How to Use Sheltered Videos for the Best Comprehensible Input

Do you ever wish people had conversation bubbles next to their heads while speaking?  Especially those who have accents you are not accustomed to?  Do you ever miss an entire crucial conversation of a movie because you have no idea what the actors are saying, a problem that would easily be remedied by subtitles? 

Or am I the only one in need of hearing aids?

In our zeal to provide authentic listening resources to our students we may make the mistake of using input that is incomprehensible.

The best comprehensible input has several components.

1.     It is comprehensible and spoken slowly enough to be understood.
2.     It captivates the interest.
3.     It focuses on the message, not the form, on communication, not grammar.
4.     It provides language that is slightly more difficult than students can understand. (L + 1)
5.     It provides ridiculous amounts of repetition in context

Research also proves that interaction helps students acquire the language.  Therefore, it would appear that the best way for a student to become proficient would be to engage in a conversation with a captivating, slow-speaking native speaker who uses language the student can mostly understand, repeats often, does whatever is necessary to make his/her message understandable, and who has a conversation bubble next to his/her head to aid in comprehension.  Ha ha ha ha! 

Actually, a model of this comprehensible input is available, and it is even more effective than the scenario I just described: videos in the target language with target-language subtitles (in place of the bubbles) and visuals to aid in the comprehension of unknown words, i.e. sheltered videos.

Where do you find such a resource?  

I have found many such clips about daily routines but videos about other topics were practically nonexistent on this planet. After exhaustive research I was able to find a few gems although without subtitles.  You can check them out in my post, Videos for Comprehensible Input.

For most of my needs, however, I came to the unhappy conclusion, as is most often the case, that if I wanted the video resource I imagined, I would have to create it myself. So, of course, I did and delighted in watching my students absorb the language naturally as they sat, mesmerized, by a compelling story they actually understood.   After the video, more repetition in context flooded their young brains in the form of related questions and activities.

How do you use these videos in the classroom?

These types of videos are also excellent for targeted comprehensible input, essential for the proficiency of students who do not begin second-language learning in elementary or who are on a block schedule with an insufficient amount of instructional time. Targeted comprehensible input is the presentation and recycling of selected vocabulary or grammar with the purpose of providing an abundance of repetition in context.  Non-targeted input does not focus on any particular vocabulary or structures but rather uses any language necessary to convey the message.  Both targeted and non-targeted have the goal of FOCUSING OF A MESSAGE AND COMMUNICATION, rather than grammar. 

So, if I want to teach a unit on clothing but I can’t give my students the experience of shopping and talking with a sales-person in Spain, I show them a video, with subtitles and overlaid visuals about two girls shopping and describing their own and others’ clothing.  Then, I follow up with questions about the movie, students’ clothing and shopping habits as well as multiple other activities related to the topic.  After exposure to the sheltered language I have provided, students are ready to hop a plane and communicate with a real person in a real store because now the authentic language they will hear will be about L+1.

Sheltered videos are the best comprehensible input for so many reasons: Students are 100% engaged because the resource is visual and the story or topic hooks their interest.  The teacher can monitor the students as they learn instead of doing a song-and-dance. Students absorb the language almost automatically in a simulated authentic experience.  They provide tons of repetition in context with slow-speaking native speakers.  Students learn surrounding language, connecting words, and syntax not formally taught as they focus on the message, not grammar.  They have become my favorite resource in the world language classroom.

If you would like to read more, check out my post about Why You Should Use Targeted Comprehensible Input.   -Angie

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Back to Spanish Class: Top Priorities before Day 1

Tuesday, July 18, 2017 / 3 comments
Back to School season is already around the corner... well not in New York City where I am because school just let out 3 weeks ago, but in many other parts of the country it's almost that time!

I'm no longer in the classroom, but I know that first week back for teachers (before the students arrive) can be very hectic. There are a million things to do to get ready and you have meetings all morning, so prep time is quite limited.

Those super teachers who post ridiculous pictures of their classrooms (yes, I'm a hater and I'm okay with it) for Back to School are great and all... but I never lived at the school. If you're also not interested in moving into the school or alphabetizing your classroom library on Saturday morning, here are my suggestions for what to prioritize when time is limited before kids come running down the halls.

1.  Lesson Plans

Do you know what you're teaching for the first week (or month - I really love lesson planning) of school?

  • Is every PowerPoint ready to go? Did you fix those glitches in your animations from last year?

  • Have you checked over your handouts for those spelling errors you were embarrassed by last year? 

  • Have any policies from last year changed in your head that you need to put on paper?  

  • Are you sure you have every minute filled with engaging material? Because if you remember that lesson on the third day last year, kids had nothing to do for the last 10 minutes of class... maybe don't repeat that.

  • Have you made copies? Do you have enough copies for when they give you 5 extra kids at the last second without telling you? Because you know they'll do that.

2.  Classroom Set-up

Are your desks still stacked on top of each other in the corner?  Kids can't sit like that, so that problem is going to need to be fixed.

  • How do you want to arrange your desks?  Do you want to have the kids sit in groups? In rows? In 3s spaced apart all facing the front? In a U shape? I'm personally partial to rows, but it really depends on the culture of your school and how much space you have to work with.  

  • Do you have a way of marking the floors so you know exactly where each row or group is supposed to be?  Desks have a way of traveling around the room throughout the day. (Are you allowed to mark the floors? Will the janitors wish bad things upon you if you do it?) I've seen teachers make lines on the floors with sharpies (the janitors definitely wished bad things upon them) and also just put colored tape down.

  • How will you decide where students sit?  You can go alphabetical, random, by personality if you already know the students.  

  • How will you tell students where they sit?  (Or will you let them choose their seats on Day 1? *insert look of shock and horror*) I used to label the desks with a piece of tape and sharpie in a corner of each desk and then have a slide on the PowerPoint as students came in (or on a paper with a document camera if you have one of those) with each student's name and desk number on it. That way they could find their desks quickly and without needing me.

And there you have it - my two recommendations for what to prioritize above all else. If you have all your copies ready to go, your desks are set up, you have seating charts ready to go, and you still have tons of time, then by all means feel free to put posters up and color-coded chevron labels on everything and alphabetize your classroom library. Don't let me stop you.

I hope this is helpful in the chaos of that first week back for teachers!  For more helpful tips, keep checking back this summer for more posts in our Back to Spanish Class series.  Please feel free to comment if there are other top priorities on your mind!

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Back to Spanish Class: 1st Week of School

Tuesday, July 11, 2017 / 2 comments

Back to Spanish Class: 1st Week of School

Yes, I know it is July, but can you honestly tell me you are not thinking about back to school yet? If you are still in vacation mode, good for you. You can bookmark this post and come back to it in a few weeks. If you are like me and already have your syllabus ready, it means planning the perfect first week of school is on your radar. In the next few posts, we will be sharing tips and tricks for the best start to the school year ever. 

There are many ways that you could start your Spanish class. I know that each year I stress about prepping the perfect first week of school that sets an excellent tone for the entire school year. While we know there is no secret magic formula for the perfect week, I am going to share many ideas for ways to start your Spanish class on the right foot.

Back to Spanish Class - What to do the 1st Week of School
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20 Pandora Stations for the Spanish Classroom

Tuesday, July 4, 2017 / 4 comments

You know that tingly feeling you get when you walk out your door without your phone or keys? You just feel like something is off.  That is how I feel when there is no music playing in my classroom. It is eerily quiet and I honestly feel slightly uncomfortable. Even those students that rolled their eyes at the beginning of the semester about having to listen to music in Spanish look around and ask me to turn it on.

I love using Pandora because it both introduces students to new songs regularly AND also plays those favorites we've given a thumbs-up to often. Few things warm my Spanish teaching heart more than catching a student singing along to a song in Spanish. The ads in Spanish are a bonus for language development, too!

Music complements a foreign language class perfectly because it exposes students to the language and culture in a fun and engaging way. I don't think I have ever met a high student that didn't like music and it provides the perfect backdrop to quiet work time or a lively game. Working on a Cuba unit? Play Cuban music that week! Kids working on biographies of famous Latinos? Introduce them to influential musicians with a station like Salsa Radio or Buena Vista Social Club. Playing music is a wonderful gateway to discussions on pop culture, as well. Students are always fascinated by what is popular in music from country to country.

Wondering how to play Pandora in your classroom? I use this Bose bluetooth speaker (not an affiliate link) and my iPhone to play music since most districts frown upon streaming music on school computers. You'll want to be on wi-fi or an unlimited data plan as you burn through data pretty quickly otherwise.

Below you will find a list of 20 Pandora stations that I have used in the classroom. Which one I use depends on the activity and what mood I am trying to set. If I want students to settle down and focus on a writing assignment, I play a station like Baladas or Canciones Románticos. If we are playing a rousing game of ¡Cucharas! or walking around doing task cards, stations like Pop Latino and Shakira radio are always up-beat and a hit. (Disclaimer: I cannot promise every. single. song. on these stations is school appropriate so keep your ears open in case you need to skip one every once in a while.)

1. Pop Latino

2. Shakira Radio

3. Salsa Radio

4. Cuban

5. Tropical

6. Latin Club

7. Canciones Románticos

8. Flamenco

9. La Quinta Estación

10. Jesse & Joy

11. Laura Pausini

12. Los de Abajo

13. Mana

14. Zahara

15. Buena Vista Social Club

16. Enrique Iglesias


17. New Latin & Tropical

18. Navidad Latina Radio

19. Camila

20. Baladas

Do you have a favorite station that is not on my list? Please comment with it below! I am always looking for new stations to try. Happy listening!

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How to get the most out of that workshop!

Monday, June 26, 2017 / Leave a Comment

Confession: I like attending workshops. (Is that weird?) I like taking the time to learn something new with a group of people who share a common interest – world language teaching! (There’s usually coffee and donuts, too, and I can’t turn those down!)

Workshops and conferences are a great way to recharge during the school year (or summer) and give you a pep in your step with a boost of new ideas. To get the most out of a workshop though, there are a few things to think about in advance.

1. Know what you’re getting into. Do your research.

Know what you’re signing up for. Study the conference schedule in advance and have a good understanding of what is being offered so you can get what you need.

Allison suggests: Look at the conference schedule at home before you make your plan of action. If you wait until the day of, you end up going to the popular sessions, and not what you actually need.

Sherry says: After you sign up for conferences, check back when people have posted their pre-conference notes for the sessions. Sometimes you can tell from the notes which sessions will be worth your while and which ones won’t.

2. Be prepared to be uncomfortable.

I’m not talking about the discomfort of getting hungry mid-morning (bring a water bottle and some snacks!), I’m talking about seeking out growth opportunities by trying something new. Step out of your comfort zone.

Look for opportunities to try a workshop that is hands on and that allows you to feel like the student again. Go to that TPRS workshop that is conducted in Swedish (or German, Russian, etc.)! The uncomfortable feeling of not fully understanding is exactly the place to be to experience growth! It will help remind you what it feels like to be the student and allow you to adjust your teaching accordingly.

3. Connect with other educators

There are so many ways to connect with attendees & presenters at the conference. Be bold and ask questions during and after a workshop! Presenters welcome questions and if you have a question, chances are another person in the room has the same question.

Of course you can connect face to face with other educators and share ideas and listen to new perspectives over a coffee break or lunch. You will make new friends and you can exchange email addresses, blog details, etc. But, we’re living in the digital age! Here are a few more ways to connect:

Conference Hashtag: many conferences these days have a hashtag!

Allison says: Follow the conference hashtag on Twitter & contribute by tweeting your takeaways from each session.

Catharyn says: Take advantage of social media networking opportunities by using the conference hashtag. Post your own thoughts and pictures using the hashtag, like (and/or repost) other people’s posts, and find new friends/colleagues to follow, all through the hashtag. Read more of Catharyn’s tips on How to Start Collaborating with Spanish Teachers on Social Media.

4. Take good notes

Listen for new ideas, teaching strategies and opinions about language acquisition. Write down concepts that pique your interest and that you want to remember for your own teaching.

Know the best way of taking notes that works for you. Are you a handwritten kind of person? Make sure you have a notebook & pen. Are you a digital kind of note-taker? Do you need to charge your laptop or tablet? 

Rosa says: If you go with a friend, or if you make a friend, take notes on a shared document on Google apps. Two or three people taking notes is better than one. What I miss, my friend might get.

5. Plan to use what you’ve learned.

Don’t let those notes just sit in the conference folder when you get back home! Revisit your notes the day after the conference and start making a plan to implement ideas into your classes.  Try out new ideas and see if they work for you and your classroom needs.

Did you find this list helpful? What else would you suggest? Leave us a comment below with your ideas!


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50 Ways to Use Images in the World Language Classroom

Tuesday, June 20, 2017 / 1 comment

A picture is worth a thousand words is an English saying that is familiar to all of us.  Wikipedia describes this saying as referring “to the notion that a complex idea can be conveyed with just a single still image or that an image of a subject conveys its meaning or essence more effectively than a description does.”  Unfortunately, no one seems to know for sure where or when this phrase originated, but what is certain is that it undoubtedly rings true for all of us, especially in the world language classroom!  In fact, research now backs up what we have long suspected... that teaching with images is very effective! 

So, what can be done with a picture, you might ask?  Well, I’m here to tell you that a LOT can be done.  I recently stumbled onto an article published by a gentleman by the name of Harry Grover Tuttle in which he lists 50 ways to use images in the foreign language classroom.  I was blown away by how many uses he came up with, and I’m sure you will be too!  So sit back, grab a pencil and prepare to jot down a few ideas that you can easily incorporate into your class tomorrow!

        1) One student orally describes a picture for one minute to his partner.

2) One student describes a picture orally to a partner who then repeats the description, using the picture as an aid for recall.

3) One student orally describes the picture to another student who does not see it; the second student then repeats the description to the first student.

4) Two students look at a picture; then one student looks away while the other student asks him questions about it.

5) Two students look at the picture and compete to see who can make up more questions about it.

6) Two students make up questions about a picture; one student uses question words, the other does not use question words. A continuation of this exercise would be to have the students answer each other’s questions orally or in writing.

7) One student orally describes a picture to a second student who then draws a copy of it.

8) One student orally describes a picture to another student who then is given a choice of pictures and must choose the one described.

9) Two students tell a story using a picture. One student tells what happened before the scene in the picture and the other tells what will happen afterward.

10) While one student orally describes a picture, the other student changes descriptive statements to questions.

11) While one student orally describes what is happening in a picture, the other student says the same thing in a different tense or in the negative.

12) While one student orally describes a picture, the other paraphrases what the first student is saying.

13) While one student orally describes a picture, the other repeats the same thing but changes all subjects to the plural or singular and makes all other necessary grammatical changes.

14) Two students look at a picture and one acts the angel conscience and the other the devil conscience to debate what the person in the picture should do in a certain situation.

15) Two students look at the same picture and one tells what will happen in an optimistic point of view while the other relates the future in a pessimistic point of view.

16) Two students look at the same picture and one tells all the good points about things in the picture and the second tells all the bad points.

17) Two students look at the same picture and as one describes the picture the other says the exact opposite, i.e., “the chair is big” will be changed to “the chair is small.”

18) Two students look at the same picture and supply the dialogue for the people represented. (If there are more than two characters in the picture, group students accordingly.)

19) Two students look at the same picture and act out what is happening in the picture as they are describing it.

20) Two students look at the same picture and each pretends to be an object in the picture. The two objects then talk to each other.

21) One student selects an object in the picture and tries to sell it to the other student.

22) One student tells the other student all the colors in the picture and the second student tells what objects have those colors.

23) One student tells the other student what he would do in the shown situation. The other student then tells what he would do. At a more advanced level the second student might use a different verb construction such as “should have.”

24) After selecting a picture, a student chooses a letter of the alphabet and then names as many objects as possible in the picture that begin with that letter. The student who names the most in one minute wins.

25) Two students look at the same picture; the first student names an object and describes it. The second student compares it to some other object in the picture. They do this for as many objects in the picture as possible (at least 5). For example: first student, “The bush is large;” second student, “The tree is larger than the bush.”

26) Two students look at the same picture; the first student names everything made of wood and then the second student names everything made of metal or plastic. See who can name the most objects.

27) Two students look at the same picture; the first tells how he would add to the picture to make it more attractive and the second tells what he would do to the picture to improve its appearance.

28) Two students look at the same picture; the first names all the pretty things in the picture and the second student then names all the ugly things in the picture.

29) Two students look at the same picture; the first student tells what mood he feels is represented in the picture. The second student tells him whether he agrees with him and why.

30) Two students look at the same picture; the first student tells the other about a similar experience in his own life. The second student then tells in what way the first person’s experience is similar to the original picture.

31) One student is given two pictures by his partner. The first student describes all the similarities between the two pictures. The second student then describes all the differences between them. (He should not mention any that the first student mentioned.)

32) One student is given two pictures by his partner. The first student makes up a story about the two pictures. The second student uses the pictures in a different order to tell a different story.

33) One student is given two pictures by his partner. The first student chooses an object in one picture to put in the second picture and tells how the new object would change the picture. The second student does the same thing with a different object.

34) A student is given a picture by another student. The first student tells the physical location, the season of the year, the weather, the time of day, the health of the people involved, and their activities. The second student then tells all other information about the physical conditions and health of the people in the picture.

35) A student writes out a description of a picture and then omits at least one word per sentence which he puts at the bottom of the page. The other student then replaces the omitted words in the paragraph.

36) The first student describes the home and the family of the person in the picture. The second student tells how the described home and family is similar or different from his own.

37) A student selects a picture and tells what the person’s favorite sports or hobbies are, where he does them, and how he does them.

38) A student writes a letter of about ten sentences telling a friend about the picture, pretending it is a tourist site, a vacation trip, historical incident, or a news story.

39) The first student contrasts objects in the picture, i.e., “The chair is big but the book is small.” The second student compares the objects using equalities, i.e., “The chair is as heavy as the table.”

40) One student tells another student how he would make his picture into a TV program or movie. The second student tells what he thinks about this program.

41) One student makes up a mystery story about the picture. Another student tries to solve the mystery by creating a possible solution.

42) One student gives another student a picture and specifies a mood. The second student then writes at least five sentences about the picture reflecting that mood. The first student then makes as few changes as possible on the written description to change it to a different mood which the second student suggests.

43) One student looks at a picture and describes cultural differences between the country depicted in the picture and the United States. The second student describes cultural similarities depicted in the picture.

44) Each of the two students lists as many vocabulary words as possible from a given picture. The student who writes down the most words wins.

45) One student starts a story based on the picture. After three sentences, the second student continues the story for three more sentences. The first student then continues for an additional three sentences. The second student ends the story with three sentences.

46) Given a vowel or consonant sound, the students say all the words, objects, actions, etc., in the picture which contain that sound.

47) One student makes a statement about the picture. The second student repeats the statement and adds to it by using a conjunction such as but or since.

48) Two students see how many different ways they can rearrange three pictures to tell different stories.

49) One student looks at a picture and tells how it is similar to his house, community, etc. The second student tells how it differs.

50) In turn, each of the two students selects a picture and tells why the other should visit the place or do the activity illustrated in the picture. A third student will decide who wins and explain why.

Whew!  T-H-A-N-K  Y-O-U, Harry!  I’m sure there are a few ideas listed here that perhaps you hadn’t ever thought of… I know that was true for me!  And once you start using images, you might even think of a few more ideas not listed here!  There are endless ways that you can incorporate an image into your class!

But how do you get the images?  Well, the most obvious answer is to find them on the internet.  Do a search for a related topic that you are studying (house, family, etc.) and simply archive all of those wonderful pictures into a digital file for later.  But… have you ever considered having your students bring in pictures?  This is a wonderful way to bring even more meaning to the language because the language gets personal when personal images are used!  You could even have the students take pictures around campus with a digital camera and upload them to a class file to be used throughout the semester!  And then there’s the option of you… yes, you… bringing in personal pictures.  Students love to get sneak peeks into your private life (you and your dog at the park, your family at Disney World, etc.)  There are so many options!  *Of course, you should always use discretion when sharing personal images.

Now, what are you waiting for???  Grab an idea from the list above and an image from Google and get going!  Let me know in the comments below how your activity turned out or if you have another idea to add to the list!                               

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