Food is one of my students' favorite topics, so it is no surprise that they love this lesson. I introduced tiene sed (he/she is thirsty) after my students know bebe (he/she drinks). Both of these structures are action words, so they naturally lend themselves well to Total Physical Response (TPR). Last year, Jason Fritze gave a workshop in my district and watching him do TPR with bebe and tiene sed was amazing. One of the techniques that he used was to break the class into two different groups (he named each group after a Spanish speaking country) and give each group different TPR commands. This helped the students stay engaged because not only did they have to listen carefully to the commands, but they also had to pay attention to who should be doing them.
After introducing tiene sed through TPR I projected pictures of different pairs of drinks (one normal and one that is not normally considered a drink such as salsa, tabasco, or shampoo). I had the students pretend to be thirsty and asked them to pick one beverage to drink based on the two options I presented. I kept a class tally of their responses and we were able to compare and contrast the results of all of the classes. This activity had everyone laughing together as a class which was great (it was also inspired by Jason Fritze).
Next, I gave my students a survey to find out what their classmates drink. I call these surveys encuestas and I have been using them with my students for years. On Martina Bex's blog she refers to this activity as a "people search". I agree with Martina that encuestas or "people searches" are one of the fastest and lowest-anxiety output activities that you can use in your classroom. I only use these activities when I feel my students have heard a structure enough to truly acquire it (no output beyond the student's level of acquisition) .
Hay un vampiro. El vampiro tiene una cavidad entonces va al dentista. En la oficina hay un chico. El chico tiene sed y bebe Coke. El vampiro está irritado con el chico y grita. El vampiro se levanta y camina despacio a la puerta. La dentista se llama Dr. Helsing. El vampiro abre la puerta y está muy nervioso. Cierra la puerta. Se sienta en la silla. El vampiro está nervioso y grita. Dr. Helsing es muy guapa y el vampiro está feliz. El vampiro abre la boca y Dr. Helsing tiene una medicina especial. ¡Pero hay un problema! El vampiro tiene sed. El vampiro quiere la sangre de Dr. Helsing. ¿El vampiro bebe la sangre de Dr. Helsing? Dr. Helsing se sienta en su silla. El vampiro se levanta y camina despacio a Dr. Helsing. De repente, el chico abre la puerta. El vampiro se cae. ¡El fin!
The rules of the encuesta are simple: Each square can only have one name in it and you can use each name once. I give the students a clipboard and a pencil and they walk around asking their classmates the questions in the various squares. When a classmates answers Sí to one of the questions they have that person sign the box. For my pre-literate learners I include an image in each box along with the words. I usually only spend 5-10 minutes on this activity and then I have the students sit on the rug and share their answers with me. I ask questions such as ¿Quién bebe Coke? and students must look at their paper and tell me the name that they have written down in that square. I will then record the answer on the encuesta that is projected on the Smarboard. Verifying this information with the student and asking for more details provides me with more opportunities for Personalized Questions and Answers (PQA).
Lastly, I show my students the MovieTalk (if you are unfamiliar with this technique you can read more about it here). The video is called "Vampire's Crown" but I call it El vampiro va al dentista.
This MovieTalk focuses on the following structures:
This animated short lends itself well to creating drama. Every time the vampire gets close to the dentist I pause the video and ask the kids if he is going to drink her blood. By the end of the video the students are cringing because I have built up so much anticipation. They love it! Keep in mind that I showed this video to my 1st graders. You could easily add more details to the script to make it appropriate for older students.
Having dolls and other toys act out a story is another way to provide your students with novel and comprehensible input. In the following story the roll of the mamá was played by a Barbie and the roll of the bebé was played by a small plastic baby. During the story I had the students duck under a table and hold the dolls above the table (like a puppet show). I told this story to my first graders, but more complex details and dialogue could easily be added for older students. Even with the simple text this story provided my students with compelling and comprehensible input. What more could you ask for!?
The story below focuses on the following structures:
El bebé tiene sed. El bebé quiere café. La mamá tiene café. El bebé bebe el café de la mamá. La mamá está muy enojada. La mamá se vuelve loca. El bebé está feliz. La mamá llora y dice "Mi bebé es mala".
Last summer at NTPRS Von Ray presented an improv workshop based on the book Truth in Comedy: The Manual of Improvisation. In the presentation Von spoke of the importance of avoiding preconceived ideas during the storytelling process and instead listening for surprise answers. When I asked my students what the baby drank and someone suggested coffee I immediately knew I had found my story. I found the surprise answer. On a side note, the fact that the coffee cup is larger than the baby helped make this story even more absurd.
While my actors were dramatizing the story with the dolls I had one student drawing the story on my iPad using an app called Educreations. The app itself is free, but there is a version that you can pay for that provides you with more options. Educreations has a lot of great features, but I mostly use the whiteboard screen. I ask for a volunteer to be our classroom artist and have him/her sit to the side of the room and draw the story as I am telling it. I tell the artist to draw each event in the story on a different page (you can easily add pages by clicking the over arrow in the bottom right corner). When the story is done I project the drawings on my iPad using an AppleTV (if you don't have this you could use a document camera) and retell the story. I go through page by page and verify the details with the artist. There is a lot of laughter during this process because the artist has inevitably drawn the main character without eyes, hands, or some other important body part. Retelling the story with the drawings provides you with a novel way to provide even more comprehensible input to your students. They are hearing the story again, but it is novel and exciting to them because they want to see their classmate's drawings.