Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Let's Start the School Year! An Activity that Works for Virtual Classes or In Person or Hybrid Models

 I'm five days away from the first day with students for the 2020-2021 school year. Currently, we are planning on seeing half of our students on alternating days, and the days they are not in school they will login and view the lesson synchronously. I will have several students in each class that are learning 100% synchronously online, and several that are attending school every day.

My goal for my Spanish 2 students was to create a lesson in which students will learn about their classmates (build community) while listening to the conversation that I will have with each student based on the information (photos) that they have provided. I wanted a lesson that would work for both virtual classes and in-person classes because if 2020 has taught us anything, it is that change happens very quickly!

For Spanish 2, I usually do "card talk" in which students sketch a few things about themselves on construction paper and I discuss their sketches while I share it with the class. For my Spanish 4 students, I usually have them send me a photo of them that was taken over the summer and add it to a google doc. My plans for Spanish 4 are only slightly different this year, but Spanish 2 has changed completely.

I wanted to make their work as easy as possible so I created a Google Slides presentation, shared it with students, and students have an assignment to add photos on their slide before the first class.  I could have given them instructions and have them write their name, but, again, I was going for super easy, so I created all the slides, copied the directions on each slide, and completed a slide of myself as a model.

I know many of you have already started school, in fact tonight in my Spanish class for Spanish Teachers, taught by Adriana Ramirez 🙂,one of the teachers said he was already on his third week with students! But even if you have already started school, maybe this activity will still be useful for you or it may spark a new idea for something you can do with your students that centers around them AND provides a great deal of opportunities for comprehensible input.


SLIDE 2 - with instructions

Slide 3 - My example to model what students should do.

When I discuss my slide with the students, I will tell them my name, that I have a farm, which involves a lot of work, that I like to travel, and, No, I don't want a zebra. I want to go somewhere to see them in their natural habitat. COVID-19 destroyed my plans for doing that this summer, but I'm hopeful it will happen next year.)

Slides 4-?, one for each student with instructions for students. 


  1. I really like this idea for Card Talk. I like your very clear instructions and that you provided a starter template for each student.

    When I had students use Google Slides to make Señor Wooly memes, I also added "Do not alter other students' work" to the directions just to be safe.

    Thank you for sharing this!!!

    1. Very good suggestion about not altering others’ work. I may need to add that! Thanks.

  2. I love this Cynthia! You are always very creative and such a whiz at technology! Thank you for sharing!

  3. I like this a lot! The fact that it is guided makes it easier for them to decide on and share pictures. I'm thinking of sending something similar to my elementary groups, but because I have a mix of ages who will complete it (parents for younger kids, also 3rd and up) who will be completing this, maybe requiring the older ones to copy and then send me a link might work.

  4. I just figured out that if I make the boxes and the words the background, at least that would be one piece that wouldn't be changed by mistake.

    1. Yes! I like that background trick and use it often.

  5. I have been thinking and over-thinking how I will do my Card Talk this September. This is so perfect, I love the simplicity of it and it really comes closest to how I would normally do this in class. Would you mind telling us what you have in mind for your Spanish 4 card talk? Thank you for sharing :)

  6. The Spanish 4 is less structured. I tell them they need one photo of themselves and a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 5 additional photos/clip art. It's a little more daring because they have more freedom, but at level 4, they usually handle that extra freedom well. I used to have them send a photo of something they did over the summer (eating at a local ice cream shop; mini-golf; fishing; camping; vacation). The only problem with that is sometimes it made it clear who were the "haves" and the "have nots" and after realizing that, I no longer asked them about their summers in such a broad sense.

  7. Thank you for a great Card Talk alternative.
    For the technologically challenged, could you explain:
    -Do I insert a table, draw lines, insert text box, etc. in the slide?
    -How do I make the words and boxes be the background so that they cannot be erased by students?
    -It looks like your instructions are in a box without borders. Is that a text box? When students go to put their picture there, will it cover up the words?

    I guess you can see from my questions that I have never done this before. If you have any more specific instructions, I would love it!

    Thank you!

    1. On Google slides, I used the shapes to make the horizontal and vertical lines. Then I made the text boxes of Yo, Yo tengo, and Yo quiero. Then click "file" "download" "jpeg". I saved that jpeg to my desktop and then added a google slide and clicked on "background" and uploaded the jpeg as the background. To that slide with the saved background I added the text boxes that explain what students need to add on each page. Then I duplicated that slide for as many students as I had in class and shared it through Schoology so all students could edit the same google slide presentation.
      If you're not sure how to do some of the above, google it, such as "how to save a background on google slides". I have learned a lot through searching examples on Google. Sometimes it depends on the computer you have so in-depth instructions that I write may not work if you have a different computer. Best of luck!

  8. Love this! I am thinking of printing a blank table with 4 columns (nobmre, yo tengo, yo..., yo quiero...)and 10 rows. Students will choose 10 slides to write information for that they hear me talk about (I teach level 2). They can write in Spanish or English so as long as they are learning things about their classmate. Thanks so much for sharing!!!