13 August 2016

First Day Homework - Collages for conversation

Engaging discussions in Spanish? On the second day of Spanish ONE?

How is this possible??

I'll tell you:

* clear expectations and support

* functional chunks

* Google Apps

* and three magic words


We spent most of the first day of class talking about the HOW and WHY of Spanish class, including  my job (BE UNDERSTOOD) and their job (stop me immediately if I'm not). I openly admit that that much was not in the target language--my job IS to be understood, after all, and those kinds of questions are too important to, well, EVERYTHING about the course to hold off until I could make myself understood in the target language.

HOWEVER, we did spend a significant portion of the class using Spanish, especially the functional chunk language chunk, te gusta. Then at the end, I busted out the magic words. Posters gave us the means to discuss our first essential question in Spanish, and students copied them under matching pictures in their interactive notebooks.

Then, the assignment.

I created a Google Drawing and posted it to Google Classroom so each kid got their own copy to adorn (isn't Classroom awesome??)
Their instructions?
Insert at least 3 appropriate images that represent what you like to do for each of the actions:
1) Ver
2) Leer
3) Escuchar 
Make sure the Spanish words are still visible.

I showed them how to do a quick image search (which can be done IN the Google Drawing and only gives results with the correct permissions! Guess how I found the poster images...) 

And then it was up to them.

What they turned in

  1. EVERYONE did it--including 2 kids who were absent! It may be because a collage assignment is super easy. It may be because everyone wants to share what they like to watch, read, and listen to. Or it may be because I'm a big cheater and they all have extra lab (study hall) time until college classes start in another week. But I'll take it.
  2. Several kids in the first class--bright kids--did it wrong. They put "3 appropriate images" but not "for each of the actions." A few others picked images that represented the words themselves instead of what they liked. I mean, they still got connections to the vocabulary I suppose, and that gave a kind of insight into who they are and how they work. I will need clearer instructions.
  3. I am out of touch. I didn't require that they include any other words, so I'm going to have to reverse image search a few of these artists and album covers (bless you, children who put the band logos instead of their pictures!) These will make excellent fodder when we're focusing more on quién though.
  4. I did not require them to cite. I probably should have. I told them these were not for publication so much as conversation starters in class and their own practice. But really, maybe they should be for publication and online conversation starting, right?
  5. This one is my favorite. They mostly did their job, but this chica got artistic!

And then

I got to know my kids. I perused the collages during my planning period, making mental notes of trends I noticed and surprises. I mean, I hung out with these kids without having to teach them last year (yay, college lab!), and I got a good feel for their demeanors, but I didn't really, you know, KNOW them. As soon as I figure out who some of these rappers and rock bands are, though, I'm golden. (P.S. I cannot tell you how excited I am that two or three had Golden Girls under VER! Also, I learned in PQA that no one can deny Fresh Prince. No one.)

I also jotted down some names I thought A) would be familiar and B) provoke a strong response (apparently Once Upon a Time has achieved cult level status in some pockets)...and C) represented a healthy cross-section of class preferences.

I really like how Lee Sensei calls homework "Next Day Preparation" because that was really actually my stated goal for the assignment: to prepare for class discussion, wherein I got to try my hand at Personalized Question & Answer.

And the PQA? Was. Awesome.


I had really intended to do more conscious observation of the trends I noticed while we were discussing, but I just got so excited. EVERY kid stayed engaged for a good twenty minutes in the target language ON DAY TWO OF SPANISH I!! They LOVED groaning when someone didn't like something (or sneaking in a "yay" when they actually supported the distaste). It was easy to pick out who might be fading and bring them right back in.

And though I was keeping the questions pretty much the same, they totally got when I switched from ¿Te gusta ESCUCHAR Beyoncé o VER Beyoncé? Also, it helped them--AND me--to emphasize that if they just nodded, they were using Spanish already, because they were interpreting my questions and responding.


  1. This is awesome! can't wait to try it!

  2. This is such a cool activity. I do something similar on the second day with my All About Me Activity. Students have a list of words that are mostly cognates. Some are very unfamiliar to them at first. But then I give them a simple interview that they read and then figure out the vocabulary. From their they answer the questions for themselves in the form of Speed Dating (it sounds like a lot, but it's pretty simple in action!). What I love about your activity is the visual component. I will certainly be pairing this up in class. Thanks for the information!