The Engaged Spanish Classroom

Hi, my name is Erin! I hope to share my passion and ideas for teaching Spanish

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Motivation through Movement in a World Language Classroom

Why does movement matter?

I have said it before and I'll say it again; a quiet classroom is my worst enemy. I would much rather have to harness energy than motivate a room of sleepy and disinterested students. Unfortunately,  as teachers we see both sides of this coin. While one class may come in filled with energy and ready to engage, our next class may drag their feet on their way through the door. I want to share my go-to ideas for when my class is more like the latter.

I will also say, however, that activities with movement are just as important for those high energy classes. By starting class with something active, my "bouncier" classes are often calmer throughout the rest of the block. Sometimes, if a class is a bit rowdy halfway through, I'll add an activity with movement to sort of re-center us as a group.

In my opinion, movement can add focus to any class. It can give the energetic classes a goal and a focused purpose, while it can help the disinterested students to become more actively involved in the lesson.

What first?

First, you have to decide the purpose of your lesson that day. Does it matter most to you that students are exposed to reading? That they write something? That they speak in the target language, or maybe that they listen to an authentic and comprehensible resource? This decision will help you to guide the rest of your lesson in the right direction. I find that sometimes I try to focus on too much, thinking "Oh I want them to read and write AND speak!" and recently I have found that I am much more successful if I focus on one thing at a time. The others can be minor goals of the activity, and still be included, but setting a specific goal has helped me tremendously. It has also made assessing whether my lesson was successful a much more measurable task!

What next?

After you determine the goal of your lesson, it is important to decide when the lesson will come into play during your class. Do you want to use this explicitly as an opener, to set the tone for a class and get the students engaged from the start? Do you want to have it in your back pocket for a time when you notice your students are starting to drift and lose focus? Maybe your classes have a habit of getting fidgety toward the bell, and so you'll want to save this activity for the end to keep them working right to the last moment.

You also need to decide how long you think your students will stay focused on your activity. Do you want to start small, with just 5 minutes or so? Or do you think something that's 15-20 minutes would work best for your class? You are the best judge of what will lead to the most successful outcome when it comes to this.

My Favorites (11 of them!!)

Once you have identified your why and when, you can mentally shop through your options for movement activities. I like to have a handful at the ready for any given unit. Like with any activity, sometimes I have one class that loves a specific one while my other three classes of that level would rather do something else instead. Having options keeps me from having to think on my toes -- which keeps me less stressed!

One of my favorite tips is to over-plan, so that if an activity isn't working with a certain class I can move on without fear of them falling behind. It is no big deal if we move onto my backup activity, because I have explicitly planned for it to meet the same overall goals.

Favorites for Speaking


Classmate Bingo

I love using classmate Bingo as a warmup on any day. On these days, I hand the bingo sheets to my students as they enter so that they know right away that their bag needs to be at their desk, but that they don't need to get settled. To introduce the warmup each day, I do my best to be in the doorway at the start of each class. I also do this to greet each student by name (last year during one of these moments I had a student tell me I was his only teacher that ever talked to him, but that's another story for another time.)

Once all students have entered, we spend about 10 minutes "playing" the game. Students must walk around the room in search of classmates to fill their boxes. They know the drill; no English, as in absolutely no looking at the sheet and yelling "Hey who has a dog?" !!!! Students must communicate in Spanish, but luckily for them the questions are printed right on the bingo sheet for them. For my honors classes, I will differentiated by making them do a bit more work; the questions might not be yes or no answers, and they might have to do a bit of work to formulate their own questions rather than reading strictly from the sheet.

When we play "Bingo de Personas" we are not looking for 5 in a row like a typical Bingo game. Our goal is to fill as many as we can in the ten minute time. Students know that they can't sit down at all during this activity; they must circulate around the room until I signal that the activity is over. Afterwards, we typically share a few answers aloud and we address any lingering questions (What box did you guys skip? Why?)

These games are pretty simple to create, but I do have a few online if you'd like to see some examples.  You can also decide whether you want your students to have a written extension activity, like I have below.

Overall, this is an activity with moderate movement that makes it near impossible for a student to sit/hide rather than participate!

Ser and Adjectives Bingo

Citas Cortas

You already know that Citas Cortas is one of my favorite ways to get my students speaking in class. You may have read about it in my speaking activities blog post, but I'll give a quick overview just in case. 

To play: Students sit in pairs around the room. I project a 1 minute or 90 second timer on the board, depending on the proficiency level of my class. For lower proficiency levels, I use the longer timer. Students have a checklist of 10 questions, and they are allowed to ask whichever questions they would like during the allotted time. On their sheet, they check of the questions that they ask aloud. After their partner answers, it is then that student's turn to ask a question from the sheet. Students continue with as many questions as they can before the timer runs out.

When the timer is up, *one* student gets up and moves to the next desk in a clockwise pattern. The student who remains seated will do so for the duration of the activity. For my stronger classes, if I am feeling brave I let them choose where they move from round to round. This is with the understanding that they will always move to a *new* partner.

After we have completed the activity (sometimes 5 rounds, sometimes 8-10 rounds!) I give students a few moments to fill out the reflection on the back. I do not always collect their reflection, but instead ask students to pay attention to their answers. Which questions did you find yourself avoiding? Why? Which verbs or vocabulary words were most difficult for you? Why do you think that is?

I love Citas Cortas because all students are speaking and engaged at once. 

This is an activity with minimal movement; just enough to keep them on their toes!

Citas Cortas Present Tense AR Verbs


¡Toma!

¡Toma! is a great activity that can be played at a moment's notice. You can play for 5 minutes, or for 15. You can also stop at any time, if for some reason you want to move on.

To get my students moving on a day where I notice they are drifting, I will immediately add TOMA to our agenda. I then ask my students to stand up, right where they are. They don't need to move anywhere, as long as they are standing, but you can change that if you'd like.

Once students are standing, I grab my soft globe ball (about the size of a volleyball and very soft) and I gesture that I will be tossing it underhand to students. I ask a question in Spanish, toss it to whichever student raises his/her hand first, and if they answer correctly I smile and gesture for them to toss the ball back to me. I then gesture and give instruction in Spanish for them to sit back down. I then look to the rest of my class for understanding, without using any English during any part of the process. I make sure they understand that they are not to sit down until they have answered a question.

For reluctant classes, I may use English to explain "Hey guys, I know you may not want to be standing so the sooner you volunteer to answer, the better! Plus, my questions may get tougher as we go so be sure to volunteer early." This usually works pretty well :)

If a student asks for the ball but answers incorrectly, I do not move on. I stay with the student and help him/her get to the right answer, at which point they have earned the right to sit back down. 

For lower level classes, we may just do straight English/Spanish translations, with me giving the clues in English. I much prefer to ask full questions, but that isn't always what works best on a certain day/lesson. For really tough topics, and if my students are engaged, we may do a second round before moving on with our agenda. Even two rounds should take less than 10 mins of your class period, and students are typically more awake after this sit/stand activity.

This activity is just minimal movement; sitting to standing, perhaps more than once.


Favorites for Reading

Conversation Strips

This is a great hands-on activity that builds confidence across all levels of proficiency. It does not require a ton of movement so to speak, but being hands on in nature helps my students to stay focused. I create conversations of 10-15 lines that students have to arrange in the correct order. I instruct students to complete this activity in pairs, and they can move to any place in the room to sit together and work it out on a flat surface. I have lap desks that help a lot with activities like this one.

If you don't want to cut out the strips, you can print one copy of the worksheet per pair instead. My conversation strips don't come in order, so you can instruct students to simply rewrite the conversation OR number the lines in the correct order on their sheet. You can then provide an answer key at the back of the room, so students have to get up to check their answers when they are finished.

You can see how I set up my conversation strips here.


The teacher decides how much movement is involved in this activity, but it is very hands on!

Preterite and Imperfect Conversation Strips


Task Cards

Task Cards are a tried and true way to get students engaged -- to enhance the traditional activity and get them moving, I love hanging the task cards around the room. I purposely hang them in a random order, and sometimes I try to "hide" one or two so that students have to work to find them. Task cards are usually quick questions such as true false, matching, or fill-ins. They often also prompt short answer responses, too.

Task cards are one of the activities that I use in pretty much every unit. They are reliable, easy to set up, and students know the drill! I usually print 100 student response sheets at a time, so that I can do this activity with about 5 minutes notice at any point during the year. I just need to find my task card set in my ziplock baggie for that tense (I know, I know) and then quickly hang them around the room. I post the student response sheet on google classroom, and hand out paper copies to whoever needs them. I then say "¡Vale! ¡Búscalos! Hay 16 hoy." My task card sets come with 24 cards if you want to have students use them traditionally at their desks, but for hanging them around the room I hardly use more than 14-16 at a time. I have found that to be the sweet spot for this activity.

This is an activity where students choose whether they want to work individually, in pairs, or in small groups. They don't have to move around the room in any certain order; they just have to find all of the task cards and respond to each one before they can sit down!

When we are done (usually 15-20 mins max) I project the answers on the board and we discuss as a class.

This activity provides for a lot of movement, and often serves as the meat of our class that day.






Quizlet Live Relay

Using Quizlet Live in it's most basic form incorporates movement right away, because students move to sit with their teammates. I used to love playing it normally, but then Ashley from Srta Spanish introduced me to Quizlet Live "Relay" and I absolutely love it. (Thank you Ashley!!!)

To play, students are randomly assigned to teams via the Quizlet Live page into teams of 3-4 students. (You can easily find or create a Quizlet set for your current vocab or grammar unit. Many, many games exist already, just be sure to check them for spelling!) Once the teams have been assigned, we line up the iPads on the countertop at the side of the room. Each team of iPads (or phones) is organized in a cluster. You can use counter space, or desks at the front of the room, etc.

Each student must be at the BACK of the room with their teammates. ONE at a time, they quickly walk (which usually turns into a light jog or in some classes a sprint....) to their team's cluster of iPads. They read the question on the screen, and then search between the three iPads for the correct answer. Once they find it, they hustle back to their team. When they tag the next player's hand, he/she quickly moves to the iPads to answer. They repeat this until one team wins. This gets VERY competitive, and very fun for both me and the students :)  Let me know if you try it!!

This activity calls for a HIGH level of movement!!

Favorites for Writing

Gallery Walks

I absolutely love using gallery walks to get my students moving. For me, this activity works well in the middle of class. It is a great way to get students working collaboratively, and an easy way to motivate them to be actively engaged.

To set it up, I hang 6-8 photos around the room that have no text at all. To explain this activity, I will use my commands unit as an example. There are photos hung around the room such as: a shark in water, a hand making the shhhhh motion, and a messy bedroom. Students are prompted to walk around the room and create an appropriate command for each picture. I prompt them to use a mix of both affirmative and negative informal commands for this unit. For example, "¡No nades!" and "Ten cuidado" are common responses for the shark image. For the hand shushing, I often see "No hables." For the messy room, we may see "Haz la cama" or "Limpia tu dormitorio."

For this activity, I let students choose who they want to work with. I also voice that it is OK to work on their own if they'd like a more quiet activity. I also make it clear that even if they are working in a pair or small group, every student is required to record their answers in their notebook/iPad. Students are also allowed to move around the room in whichever order they please. There is no specific time where I prompt them to move, and they are not restricted to move clockwise etc. When they are ready to move on, they simply move around the room and find another photo. Often, I will post 10 images and prompt them to answer 8 of them. I like providing as much choice as possible during the day. 

After about 10 minutes, I ask students to sit down and I ask for volunteers to share their answers. Students get very excited when they came up with the same command as someone else. It is also fun to see students get creative; for example, one student this year wrote "Nada rápidamente" for the shark photo. Our class had a good laugh at that :)

You can create gallery walks with any photos you find online, but I do have some created for you if you'd like to see how I set them up! You can find my examples here. I hope you can try this with your students, to get them moving and participating in the target language :)

Gallery walks call for a moderate amount of movement.

Informal Commands Gallery Walk

Carrousel

Carrousel is a quick vocab activity that I love to use for review on a new unit. I will explain the activity using clothing items as an example. Every year when I teach clothing items, we complete a carrousel on the second day. Students do their best to use NO notes during this activity.

To start, I have my students sit in groups around the room. My desks are set up into 6 groups of 5, and so my students are actually always ready for this particular activity. To play, I write 6 scenarios out on pieces of blank paper. On one paper I write "Yo voy al gimnasio." On another I write "Yo voy a una boda." On a third, I write "Yo voy al cine" and so on.

I tape one paper to the desk in the center of each group. Students in that group are instructed to write TWO appropriate clothing items for that scenario directly on the paper in front of them. They have 30-45 seconds to discuss and write their answers (you can adjust the time as needed) and then I prompt them to MUÉVENSE. Students move with their entire group in a clockwise fashion, to the next table. They then repeat the activity there. They have 30-45 seconds to read the clothing items that the previous group wrote, discuss, and add two more of their own. We continue this activity until students return to the group where they started. I then ask for a volunteer from each group to read the scenario and read out the clothing items listed. We correct any spelling errors, and brainstorm any missing items as a class.

This activity requires minimal movement; just rotation from station to station. It can be adapted for any vocab or grammar unit. I hope you can try it!


La Silla Caliente

La Silla Caliente is another one of my activities you may have read about in a previous post on my blog. This is one of my most engaging games, and students move after each question so it naturally keeps them actively engaged.

Here is a quick recap of how the game works:

To start, I separate my students into teams of 4-5 students. We arrange our desks in rows, and each team sits in a line from front to back. During the game, however, they cannot communicate with their team members in any way.

In this game, I project a question on the TV/projector. To respond to each question during this game, students utilize the Notability app on their iPads or they use our small whiteboards. I project the question, read it aloud, and they have 15 seconds to answer. When I shout "muéstrame" they all must show their responses at once. Each student must answer every question as we go, because their team might need them!
*If the first person in their team row gets the answer correctly, their team earns 5 points.
*If the first person answers incorrectly but the second person in the row gets it right, their team earns 4 points.
*If the first two students have wrong answers but the third person back has it right, their team earns 3 points.... and so on.

I keep score on the board as we go. Teams are typically pretty competitive and close in score for the majority of the game, since one question could lead to +5, which is great.

When I create this game template, I alternate question slides with an answer slide directly after. This way, students can see the correct spelling/punctuation of each answer even if they answered incorrectly. I found that projecting the answers as we go was much more efficient than repeating the correct answer over and over and sometimes pausing to write it on the board.

After each question, the student in the front desk moves to the back of their team, and each other team member moves forward. This way, students all have a turn at being the 5 point responder, or in"La Silla Caliente."

This is a game I like to play when we have at least 30 minutes available. My teams get VERY competitive, and I'd say this is the game they request the most! We don't get to play it very often, which I think makes them even more eager to play :)

You can see all of my Silla Caliente game sets here.

La Silla Caliente requires moderate movement; students move after each question!

Preterite Tense Regular Verbs Silla Caliente

Carreras

Carreras is just what I call a simple ask and answer on iPad / mini whiteboards. My students are "racing" to answer, but we don't keep score or anything. Students choose whether they want to use a blank document in Notability on their iPads, or whether they want to use our small whiteboards to respond and hold their answers in the air. I project fill in or short answer questions on the board, and students answer on their choice of tablet/whiteboard. As soon as they are ready, they hold the boards in the air. I love using responses like "Todos son correctos" o "Los que veo en el aire son correctos, gracias" but of course sometimes there are going to be mistakes. When there is a mistake, I make eye contact and give a slight shake of my head. I do not say anything aloud, and I do not say the student's name unless they aren't noticing my eye contact. This way, the student has the opportunity to quickly take their board out of the air, try again, and hold it up again. Then, I will make eye contact again and give a quick nod.

I like this activity because students don't typically notice when other students are wrong. They are very focused on getting the right answer themselves, and getting the nod from me. It is not a place for judgement from peers or even from me; if I see a mistake I address it, but do not harp on it or draw attention to it. If I notice a pattern of mistakes, I may pause the activity to do an example on the board, but I always do this in between questions so that students do not feel targeted.

This activity contains minimal movement; just the holding of the boards in the air. I move around throughout the whole activity, so students have to pay attention and make sure they are holding the board in my direction each time. Still, even with the minimal movement this activity makes it easy for me to immediately see which students are struggling. Who isn't answering at all? Who is answering, but isn't confident enough to hold their answer up for me/others to see? Who is looking at other answers in the air before answering themselves? We typically spend about 10-15 minutes max on this activity.

If you want to see exactly how I set up this activity, you can see these "Review and Word Race" activities in my TPT store. Again, it is something that is very simple and will help you to incorporate a quick formative assessment with your students. Good luck!

Carreras calls for minimal movement!

Por and Para Word Race


Favorites for Listening

Four Corners

Four corners is an activity that you need to prep before hand if you want the visual aid, but it is worth it to have a reliable activity to use in a pinch. You can also play at any time, with no prep and a quick explanation to make it a true listening activity.

During this activity, you ask a question aloud to your students and prompt them to move to certain areas of the room to express their answer. I honestly like to also project my statement or question on the board as well, for visual aid. This is my main reason for prepping the activity beforehand. 

To limit student confusion about the movement piece, I typically have labels in the four corners of my room all year long. The labels are "Estoy muy de acuerdo" "Estoy de acuerdo" "No estoy de acuerdo" and "No estoy de acuerdo para nada." These prompts work for most of the four corners versions that I play with my students, although sometimes the four options are prompted on the screen and students move to the corresponding corner that way. Alternatively, sometimes we play "two corners" which is really just "Estoy de acuerdo" at the front of the room and "No estoy de acuerdo" at the back of the room. It all depends on how much time we have, how engaged my students are, and whether the topic can be molded to fit the yes/no format.

During this activity, I try to make sure students aren't just moving back and forth with their friends. To do this, I call on one or two students each question to ask them about their response in Spanish. I ask them for an extra detail, but something easy. This is just to keep them focused!

This is an activity that calls for LOTS of movement. Ideally, students should be moving almost every single time you ask a new question.  I do have a few sets available if you'd like to see how I set them up! 


Four Corners for GUSTAR


Good luck!!

This post ended up being MUCH longer than I planned, which seems to be a pattern for me. Thank you for taking the time to read this far, and I hope you are leaving with a few new ideas to try! Be sure to comment and let me know if you have any questions, or to let me know which of these is already a favorite of yours :)

Follow along with me on Instagram @theengagedspanishclassroom and on TPT to see more. If you haven't subscribed to my newsletter, make sure you do so to get some of these activities for free right in your inbox!

Thank you for reading :)
Erin

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