This is one of the most simple lessons that you could ever do (and I’m sure that many of you have done it), but it is so effective and so much fun! Carol Gaab used it as her introduction at our AFLA Conference this past year, and we ended up with some hilarious stories about where different attendees had gone during the previous summer. This makes a GREAT first day of school plan for returning students that have not yet learned past tense.
You might know it as…CARD TALK!
- fue – s/he went
- el año pasado – last year (this could be any time in the past…I did ‘last year’ so that students had lots of interesting places to choose from…you could do ‘last weekend’, ‘yesterday’, ‘last summer’, whatever!)
HOW TO CARD TALK
- Have students draw a sketch of someplace that they went last year (or whenever your time period is). They should not include words on the drawing.
- Introduce the vocabulary to your students.
- Choose one drawing that looks interesting or ambiguous. Walk around and show it to the class, asking ‘¿A dónde fue __ el año pasado?” (Where did (student’s name) go last year?) Ask the question over and over as you slowly walk around the room.
- After everyone has seen the sketch, take suggestions. With each suggestion, ask the student that you are talking about if that is where s/he went (so that you get reps of fuiste and fui–you went, I went). Keep having students guess what it is until EITHER they get the correct answer or a creative, interesting answer.
- If the answer is boring, pick a new picture and repeat the process.
- If the answer is interesting or it seems that you can build a compelling story around it, start asking for details, and develop a story or vignette.
- Do a reading (see my example below).
- (Optional) After we had spent two days going over the students’ sketches, I scanned in the picture that solicited the most interest from the class creating a writing form (see below) and had students write their own explanation of the picture using at least 50 words. This was a writing assessment, and I used my Free Write rubric to grade it (I pasted it onto the back of the paper).
Here is an example of a reading based on one of my students’ cards:
Hay un estudiante en mi clase de geometría que se llama Armando. Armando es un muchacho muy interesante porque fue a Guatemala el año pasado. Él fue con su familia para ayudar a gente pobre. Cuando yo le pregunté, «Armando, ¿por qué fuiste a Guatemala para ayudar a gente pobre? Hay gente pobre en los Estados Unidos», él respondió, «Yo fui a Guatemala porque quería practicar el español». Entonces, le pregunté, «Entonces, ¿por qué no fuiste a Guatemala este año también?» Él dijo, «No fui a Guatemala este año porque no tenía mucho dinero. Usé todo mi dinero el año pasado». Yo creo que Armando es el chico más simpático de mi escuela.