How to Use Pre-Written Story Scripts

Sometimes I let the kids go wild and I let them create their own stories.  But I also use pre-written stories scripts for my classes. I want to explain how I use pre-written stories scripts and or/ pictures from Cuentame mucho®, Cuentos Fantasticos and Anne Matava scripts.

Yes, I agree some of these stories are very weird. I tell my students from day one that everything is possible in Spanish class. So every time they read something weird or random, I say “todo es possible en la clase de español” I can’t remember who I need to give credit for this phrase but It helps students get over the “that’s too weird” quickly.

I how students one picture at the time. I ask lots of different types of questions before I move on to the next picture. If a new word comes up I write it on the board. If it’s a high-frequency word or a word I know it will show up later in one of the novels, I use the circling method increase the number of times students hear that word. Before I move to the next picture I may have the students predict what may happen in the next picture.

I always ask personal questions and I use all different types of pronouns in these questions. Just like a regular conversation. For instance, when using Cuentos Fantásticos story el estudiante loco I may ask the students:

Teacher:   ¿Qué ocurre si entras tarde a la clase de matemáticas? Tu maestra se enoja, tú te enojas,

Student: la profesora

Teacher: ah, la profesora de matemáticas de enoja. Yo no me enojo. Mis estudiantes nunca entran tarde porque son fantásticos, todos somos fantásticos.

Connecting with student’s interest is the most important part of CI. No story will work if you miss this step. Personalize, Personalize and Personalize!

Here is an example from my Spanish 2 class. The story is from Carol Gaab’s reader Cuentame mucho. This story is weird, but we already established that everything is possible in my class. This mini-cuento has a lot of opportunities for personalization. My main goal is to connect with them and to find something to talk about.


We read the story silently and I asked them comprehension questions. Then, I started asking them personal questions such as:

¿Tu dormitorio está limpio o sucio?

¿Tu mamá se enoja si tu dormitorio está sucio?

¿Podrías vivir en una mansión/playa/ Hawaii/ Alaska/ un barco/ en la calle?

¿Dónde no podrías vivir? ¿Y si te dan un millón de dólares?

Prefieres padres enojado o padres desilusionados? This question really got them excited. We talked about how parents act when they are angry. And the word castigos emerged. I wrote it on the board. And we talked about castigos doe the rest of the period.

Lastly, I do grammar pop-ups only if the students seem confused. If they understood right away, then there’s no need to stop a reading discussion. Example: es mi casa o su casa? Es su casa no mi casa, mi casa está en Long Beach.

If and when students are not responding to my questions (circling, P.Q.A ), I either a Brain Break or I wrap up the story.

Other ideas :




Did you know?

Interesting/ random/fun/ unexpected facts

Did you know?

In my class, we read pretty much about anything. So, wheneverr I can, I like to incorporate interesting random/fun/ unexpected facts in my classes. These facts are just another way to “mask” reading in my class. I learned this activity from Carol Gaab. My students find it very interesting, and it usually leads to an interesting conversation in the target language. This activity also allows me to cover some of the Common Core Standards and is another way to integrate other subject areas such as math, history or science.
How does it look in my class?
We read it after a story (I pick facts related to the story, for example, we created a story about a bald princess, and then we learned facts about baldness)
We read it when introducing a topic
We read them to add to a topic
we read it just for fun (to educate and amuse)

le saviez vous


Ja, Ja, ja jueves!
20160929_154519My students look forward to Thursdays. I am now under the impression that Thursday is their favorite day of the week. Why? Because it’s ja,Ja, Ja, jueves (ha, ha, ha Thursdays) and it’s so contagious that When I say jueves students correct me and say no senora it’s ja, ja, ja jueves.
So what happens during ja, ja, ja, jueves? I tell a joke. A very bad but comprehensible joke. I find jokes online in the target language that are comprehensible and appropriate for high school. This activity takes about 10 minutes at the beginning of the period.
So this is how we do it! I tell the joke twice while pointing and pausing. The students signal that they understood the joke by saying ja,ja,ja. Sometimes I have them read the joke. If there’s one person in the class that didn’t understand the joke after I said it a few times, I ask for a volunteer in the classroom to translate the joke. Sometimes the students ask me to tell them another joke by saying “otro, otro!” if I have time and if I know another joke I dot it. I try to match the joke to vocabulary of themes that we’re currently acquiring, but that’s not always possible. If a new word comes up, I simply write on the board, and I continue telling the joke. In order to make the joke comprehensible sometimes I use props or act it out. Last Thursday a student brought his own joke. I read it and approved it, and he told the joke to the class in the target language. His joke was better than mine, so naturally, everyone laughed. The student felt like the star of the class!
¿Qué le dijo una uva verde a una morada?
-¡Respira! ¡Respira!


Here is a list of resources and links to already prepared comphrehensible, appropiate jokes!

This one is a collection of Jokes and memes created by Amy Roe

Bryan Kendle has a list of 300 chistes available at teacher’s pay teachers

300 Chistes




Days 4-8

So we’ve spent the first three days assigning classroom jobs, seating arrangements, learning classroom rules and procedures. I continue to remind my students of the expectations in my class. I also like to post the rules before every activity.

I am getting to know my students by talking to them about current events and this year I got lucky enough that The Rio Olympics is interesting and compelling to my students. I am using the Olympics to frontload all the vocabulary and explore some of the themes of Felipe Alou by Carol Gaab.

First off I want to clarify that I don’t know anything about sports. In fact, I didn’t even watch a single Olympic event (so sad.)I just simply asked questions, and I got all the information by talking to my students and about them. I confirmed the information through Wikipedia, and I typed the reading based on our discussions.
1. I introduced the topic, by talking to my about one athlete at a time. I showed a picture of the athlete first and then asked the class if they knew who the person was. Most them knew because I talked to them the day after the athlete won his/her event.
2. I asked lots of questions in Spanish through ‘circling’, and I wrote on the board any new words in Spanish and English.
3. I asked questions about my students. For instance, I knew I had two swimmers in one period. I asked them if they ever competed, if they get nervous, if they practice often and for how long, what type of swimming they prefer, which style if the most difficult to them, etc.

Sample texts and reading comphrehension questions las olimpiadas 2016


Day 3
Reviewed our greeting and the gestures for: I don’t understand, may I speak English? Repeat, slower and write it on the board.

I introduced the classroom rules in Spanish. Yes, you can explain your expectation in Spanish as long as you make it comprehensible. Ah, and don’t  forget to  and check for comprehension often.I got this idea when I attended a COACH training last fall. Additionally, teaching rules in Spanish was  as a great way to  review the following verbs.
Puedes- you can
Tienes- you have
Necesitas- you need
So how did I make this topic comprehensible?  I used   cognates, props, and lots of gestures.  I wrote the words with its English translation on the board. Then, I showed them the gesture, I modeled for them and had them practice. Then, I introduced the rules one at the time. Here is an example of how I introduced my number one rule.
En la clase de espanol puedes hablar espanol.
Puedes hablar espanol en la clase? si o no?
Puedes hablar Frances en la clase?
No, no puedes hablar farance en la clase.

Here are some comprehension checks activities I created after I taught the rules and procedures.LAS REGLAS


Day 2
a. I welcomed student’s at the door while I asked them to tell me the password. I got this idea from the Amazing Alina Filipescu. I assigned the password on Fridays and students will say it to enter the classroom Monday through Friday of the following week. The password for the first week was ¡Que ridículo! Here is more information about how to use passwords in the classroom.
b. Reviewed our greeting and the gestures for: I don’t understand, may I speak English? Repeat, slower and write it on the board.
c. Assigned classroom jobs. I heard about classroom jobs through Bryce Hedstrom’s session at iFLT the idea is to have students do the work that they can do so you can focus on providing compelling input. Assigning the jobs creates a sense of community and ownership. It’s helping me manage time, save my energy and buys me a few minutes of silence between passing periods.
Let me give you a little bit of background information on what went on my classroom. Last year I had my best CI experience ever! My students were super engaged, I had the story asking routine down, parents emailed the administrators to express how happy they were with CI etc. But,  I was EXHAUSTED all the time,  I didn’t have the energy to anything else after school and by the end of the first semester, I was completely burned out. I realize now that I was doing ALL the work for 42 students in five different periods! That’s a lot of work! I noticed that when was tired I let my students get away with not following procedures. I feel more alert now that I had assigned all these tasks to students than last year when I was running the show and doing all the administrative tasks. Here is Bryce Hedstrom Post on Classroom jobs.

Some of the jobs I have assigned so far:
1. The class reporter- takes notes of the activities in class and reports back to absent students
3. The Board Eraser
4. The hole puncher
5. The person who passes handouts
6. The person who collects handouts
7. The lights person
8. The doorman
9. The tardy slips person
10. The telephone person
11. The sneeze person
12. The first aid person
13. the classroom monitor- walks around the classroom 4 minutes before the bell rings and remind students to pick up their bottles of water and any trash.
14. The 4 minutes person- tells me that there are 4 minutes left of class.
15. The English police.

I have substitutes for each position in case the person in charge of the job is absent. I also have posted the job description in the classroom and the name of the student responsible for each job.


For the past eight days, I’ve been talking about the Olympics while getting to know my students and establishing routines. The goal is to build a classroom culture based on trust, respect, and kindness. In Spanish II we often get students from different schools and even districts so  I also use these two weeks to am assess students’  proficiency level . Finally and most importantly, I am front loading all the vocabulary students will need to read Felipe Alou by Carol Gaab, but my students don’t know this yet. As far as they know, they think I just like to gossip about athletes and the coaches at our school.

Day 1:
a. I welcomed every student at the door with a friendly smile. Then I said to them in Spanish “backpack on the table please.” Oh, I forgot to mention that I have a desk-less classroom.
b. I assigned seats to students from day one. This step is critical because it sends a message to the students that you’re in charge (Ben Slavic.) Then, I told them to greet their neighbor with “hello, how are you?” in Spanish.
c. I told them in Spanish to stand up, and I modeled our daily greeting. We practice that twice.
d. I taught them the gestures for I don’t understand, may I speak English? Repeat, slower and write it on the board.
e. I shared some information about my life with them in Spanish. I also reminded them to use the gestures I just taught them to show me that they were listening. I only shared a few details using lots of cognates and asking comprehension questions. I also engaged them in the conversation. For instance, I told them that I live in Long Beach, I asked who has visited Long Beach. A handful of students raised their hands. So I picked one of them, I ask him his name, and then I asked him again you visited Long Beach? Yes! I repeated his answer, and then I address the rest of the class “oh class ___ visited Long Beach.” What I’m doing here, is teaching my class that everything that they say is important to me and that they need to show appreciation and respect when we talk to one another. Then I continued to ask the student more questions about his visit to Long Beach. When? where? how? with whom?
f. Wow! The ten-minute bell rang! Time flies by when you’re having fun. I used the last ten minutes to assign the password to enter the classroom (Original idea accredited to the Awesome Alina Filipescu) and we practiced our exit procedure (Credit: Bryce Hedstrom)
Profesora: ¡Clase!
Estudiantes: ¡Sí, señora!
Profesora: Gracias por aprender.
Estudiantes: Gracias por enseñarnos.
Profesora: Pueden guardar sus cosas.
*Disclaimer: None of these ideas are of my creation; they are based on things I have learned by attending workshops and observing other teachers and Carol Gaab two-day visit to our school district.

Vocabulary Review Game

I used to use lots of games when I was teaching with the textbook, and I was trying to glamourized those long chapter vocabulary list. I found that now that I teach with Comprehensible Input I don’t need to come up with all these different activities to make grammar and vocabulary fun. Now, my students are engaged they ARE the lesson. However, my students like competition a lot and after one semester of playing flyswatter and spelling race they were just not into it as much. So I looked for a game that it was fun for the students, and that required little to no preparation on my behalf.
So I came up with this fun review game without a name. I guess I could have called it DAT for draw, act, and translate. You can find the template for this game here.
My T.A. did all the work of printing, laminating and cutting the cards. If you don’t have a T.A., then get some of your students to cut the cards. Yes, you will invest some time laminating the game, but you will be able to use it over and over again.
Get the students in groups of 3 or 4. Each team gets a board, a pair of dice (you can buy a package of 20 at the .99 cents store.) vocabulary cards, and some tokens. They will roll the dice and pick up a card. Students will read their vocab card to their group and perform the task required per color:
Red= translate
Blue= draw
Green= act/imitate
I’ve included high-frequency verbs ( sweet 16) in the third person. some family members and people. Perfect for review French 1 semester 1
Tip: For durability, print on cardstock paper and laminate.
Variation: you can make other cards with verbs in the past tense, story characters, other advanced verbs, etc.


Switching from textbook based teaching to TCI

Here is a helpful infographic that will give you some information and steps to follow during the transition. The transition process could be overwhelming so try to practice one skill at a time. Start with the basics, like the art of circling and then add more advanced activities to your repertoire.My personal advice is to start with TCI/TPRS curriculum already published and slowly find out how to make it your own. I see a lot of people going through hell by trying to learn a new methodology and creating all new materials at the same time. They get so exhausted that they eventually end up going back to their comfort zone. Also, although it is not mentioned in the infographic, when I was going through the transition process,  I read lots of books about this method ( I recommend TPRS in a  Year by Ben Slavic, and Fluency Through TPR Storytelling by Blaine Ray ). So every time I was having second thoughts, I would remember the theory and research behind this approach.

the-switch-infographic (3)




QR Codes

qrcode (1)

I recently discovered how to use QR Codes, and it turns out that they are very easy to create, and they have many different uses in the classrooms.  QR codes are a great tool to get students engaged and moving by placing them in separate areas of your classroom or school building. They are also an excellent resource to keep things new and exciting for your students. In my experience, most students were able to scan the QR code with their smartphones. The few students who didn’t have a phone available worked with other students. You can store several types of information on a QR code such as:

Free text

web address

Contact information

Text message

I have mainly used QR codes to give students access to information such a short text or quiz, to provide them with a link to a video or web address. But there are many different novel ways to use QR codes.  Click here to learn more about how to use  QR Codes in the classroom.

Here ar some of my students using QR codes to learn about poisson d’avril . You can access my poisson d’avril lesson here.