Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Learning (Spanish) Commands - Usted Form

Students write commands to solve problems.
Note: This is also known as a Commands Gallery Walk

I use a fabricated story about my cat when I teach formal commands.  The activity is described below for how I teach it in Spanish, but it can easily be adapted to any language.

I begin by telling the following story in the Target Language about my cat: "My cat loves to hunt and every day it hunts and kills either a bird or a mouse. But my cat doesn't like to eat what it hunts so it picks up the kill in it's mouth, walks to my neighbor's house, and drops it's hunted prize at the front door of my neighbor's house.  My neighbor is very angry with me and my cat." Then students say commands in the usted form to tell me what to do.

This year I decided to have the students create their own short scenarios.  

1. The students wrote their fabricated "problems" on a large paper and hung them around the room. I limited their stories to 5-7 sentences.

2. Then I gave each student a pack of post-it notes.  

un problema con un caimán
3. Students had to write a command for each of the "problems" and stick their post-it note to the paper.  They could not repeat any verbs already mentioned on other post-it notes on the paper, and the individuals could not use the same verb on more than one paper.  (I had 15 students in class, each had to write commands on post-its for 14 of the "problems", they did not have to write on their own paper, and the student could only use a verb one time.)

4. After the students have written a command and put post-it notes on all the papers except their own, the owner of the paper reads the commands and chooses the 3 they like the most to share with the class.

The students enjoy listening to their classmates' "problems" and the creative ways to solve the problem.  Having the students write on post-it notes instead of directly on the paper meant students didn't have to wait until the previous person was finished writing on the paper, a time-saver.  

Update 2017: Recently in my inbox from Pinterest, there were photos of suggested pins for my Spanish boards. One was a Pin that used my idea but instead of the students creating a problem, the teacher wrote the problem and put it in a clear protector sheet and then students added the sticky notes as described in this post.  I added the picture I found on Pinterest to give you a clear picture how it was done. I'm unable to give a photo credit because the Pin on pinterest leads to a dead end. 


  1. This is a great idea and I am currently teaching Ud. and Uds. commands! Thanks for making next week more interesting :)

  2. Great idea! Thanks for sharing- I'll be trying it out later this week!