Saturday, September 8, 2012

Using Videos of Children's Stories

As I was searching through the large collection of Spanish videos on Discovery Education, I found the video "Clic Clac Muu, Vacas Escritoras".  Since I live on a dairy farm it caught my attention so I watched it.  It's a funny story, with cute animations and, best of all, the narrator speaks very clearly.  I used this video with my Sp4 class. (update: The video USED to be available on YouTube, but when I checked it today, March 2013, I found out it is no longer available.  Maybe it will be reloaded onto youtube in the future.)

Suggestions for preparing students for the video:
1. Several days before showing the video, pull out vocabulary from the video that you think the students either don't know or need to review. 

 My goal was for them to understand the entire narration.  Some of the vocabulary and phrases I chose were: no habrá, ¿Quién ha oído semejante cosa?, una huelga, la manta, desde afuera, no podía creer lo que oía, and le entregó.

2. If you spend the first day of the school week talking about your weekend, choose 3 of the above words/phrases and make comments or questions using those words. As you use them, write them on the board for students to see. It's a sneaky way to introduce new vocabulary, but it works. I chose the phrase "¿Quién ha oído semejante cosa" and used it after a student said something about their weekend. The students picked up on this expression and I heard them saying it voluntarily the day I repeatedly said it in reaction to the what the students said about their weekends, as well as the following day.

3. Cut out an article from a newspaper but don't let them see the title.  It can be about anything. Then act as if you're telling them a news story, but really it's "fake news" to introduce new vocabulary. My "fake news" was about workers at a plant that went on strike and the neighbors brought them blankets at night to keep warm.

4. Let the students create a story using several new vocabulary words.  

By Friday my students knew the new vocabulary and were ready for the movie.

Suggestions for the movie:
1. Watch the movie, then Q&A about the events.
2. Pull out several screenshots from the movie before watching it and let students guess/describe what happens and order the screenshots.
3. Tell the story with the collage and then show the movie.
4. After watching the movie, project the collage on a whiteboard.  Write numbers or letters for each picture frame. The teacher says a sentence or two about one of the pictures on the collage and students identify which one it is.
5. Use the collage of Las Notas and put them in order.
6. Print out a few copies of Las Notas collage and then project the other collage on the whiteboard.  Students identify in what part of the story each of the notes belong.
7. Type a summary of the story, (or use my summary).  Upload the summary to Textivate and choose the option that breaks the story into 8, 10, or more sections.  Students put the sentences in order.  Works great with a smart projector or smartboard. 
8. Go to Michigan's CLEAR site and make a Cloze activity.  (Textivate will automatically do this for you and save you time, but you cannot chose which words it replaces with a blank so it's not as useful as an activity as ones you can make at Michigan's site.)
9. If students haven't heard the story before (several of mine had), pause the video and ask what they think will happen next; discuss.

Homework: I uploaded screenshots to VoiceThread.  My students have to narrate 3 frames on VoiceThread in Spanish.  If another student has already made a narration for a frame, they may add another one for that frame as long as they don't repeat what the first person said. (I do not have the VoiceThread that I made for this linked because I told the students they are the only ones that have access to the thread, at least until they have finished with their narrations.)


  1. There is now an "Extra gap-fill" button on the textivate editor screen at - this allows you to define your own gaps for an additional user-defined gap-fill exercise.

  2. Thanks for sharing this information Martin. The "extra gap-fill" button will make textivate more useful!

  3. ¡Muchísimas gracias!
    This story was my son's favourite as a child - he's now 14! and as a Spanish teacher I love that it is in Spanish too. As soon as I have a suitable class, I'll be using your great ideas too.
    Lisa xx