Tag: classroom activities

El monstruo de la laguna

I’ve talked before about using Name Cards on the first day of school to get to know students and provide content for creating mini-stories in the first days of school. Favorite activities are a no-brainer for novice students, but what about second year students? I like to get the ball rolling with the phrase “tiene miedo.” Students draw pictures of what they fear, and we build scenarios of students finding clowns in their lockers or sharks in the bathroom. It’s very useful for reviewing past vocabulary, too.

A natural segue for “tiene miedo” name cards is this little comic strip I found on Zachary Jones’s site. The language is super-simple for returning students, but you can use circling techniques to build up a background story for the little green monster and the redheaded girl. I like to finish by having students draw what happens next, then displaying possible scenarios, discussing them in Spanish, and voting on a class favorite. Whatever my students decide, I write up into an extended reading for another class period.


You can extend this little comic even further if you have access to Señor Wooly’s fabulous site! His video for “Guapo” makes for a perfect contrast. After viewing and discussing the video and accompanying readings, I like to have students do a Free Write in Spanish on who the REAL monster is: Victor,  or this little green sweetheart.

OR you could connect the monster in the comic to Canticuénticos’ “Cumbia del monstruo,” a catchy little dance song with lots of opportunities to teach different body parts.

One of the things I love about teaching with Comprehensible Input methods is how easy it can be to link authentic resources from different sources. How could you use this comic in your classroom?

Julieta Venegas “Me Voy”

My Spanish I class has been reading Blaine Ray’s novel “Pobre Ana” this quarter, and doing quite a good job with it. In chapter seven, Ana says goodbye to all her friends in Mexico, and I decided to use the catchy song “Me Voy” by Julieta Venegas to pre-teach that structure.

First, I wrote the following structures on the board:

Quiere despedirse de = She wants to say goodbye (break up with)

Me voy = I’m going

Me despido de ti = I’m saying goodbye to you

(Reflexive pronouns can make verb forms look quite different, so at this level I treat the infinitive and the conjugated form as two different structures.)

I used them to tell a story:

Hay una chica que se llama Julieta. Julieta tiene un novio, Romeo. Romeo es un novio muy malo. Juega videojuegos, come la pizza, y bebe Mountain Dew todos los días. Nunca presta atención a su novia.

Un día, Julieta quiere despedirse de Romeo. Le dice, “Adiós,” pero Romeo no le escucha. Entonces, Julieta le escribe una carta. La carta dice,

“Querido Romeo, Me despido de ti. Adiós, Julieta.” 

Pero Romeo es muy peresozo y nunca lee la carta. Por fin, Julieta toca la guitarra y le canta. Le canta, “¡Me voy! Qué lástima, pero adiós. Me despido de ti.” Después, Julieta se sube a un globo aerostático y se va. Romeo llora porque ahora no tiene una novia.

After circling the story for a bit, I showed the video, and students had to match Spanish lyrics with their English equivalents.

The next day, we read Pobre Ana with no problems because students recognized the vocabulary!


It was a Wednesday afternoon during the last 15 minutes of the last class of the day. My students were mostly finished with a quiz about a chapter of Mi propio auto, and were just hanging out while we waited for the stragglers to finish. Enter one of my admins, coming for one of my six required observations.  One minute later, my laptop and projector are fired up, I have my favorite site pulled up, and we are off on a mini-lesson that combines two of an observing admin’s favorite things: technology and the Common Core.

That site is  Geoguessr.com, and I first heard about it from Robert Harrell on Ben Slavic’s blog. It’s a game in which you are dropped on a random street that could be anywhere in the world usingGoogle Streetview, and you win points by plotting your location on the map. The closer you are, the more points you earn.


How does this relate to Spanish? I narrate what is happening in the picture in the target language. I talk about the lines on the road, about the presence of mountains or desert or snow, about what the weather is like. We look at the cars, houses, people, and signs, and then I call on volunteers to make a guess. We can then further talk about what it’s like in different countries, and about where they are in relation to other places in the world.

Students love it because it’s competitive, and because they can get down on street level to real places from their backyard to Australia. It feels real to them. I love it because it provides me with a rich source of comprehensible input. Administrators love it because I am using technology to create a cross-curricular lesson, and also because I am forcing students to make inferences based on a text (the pictures). I would never spend a whole class period on it, but it’s great for eating up 15-20 minutes here and there, especially at the end of the year when we all need a change of pace!