Sentence PhotoBooth and Dictations

 In order to prepare for an upcoming test, I thought it would be a good exercise for my Spanish 1 students to use our important verbs and vocabulary words to build simple sentences.  I’ve done this before by giving students a large word bank and the task of writing down as many sentences as they could create on paper.  I liked that, but I felt that for a review activity, I needed to add a collaborative element in order to promote discussion.

So I thought, “How about using cut out words and having students take pictures of the sentences as they create them?”  Since I didn’t have enough digital cameras to aid my new idea, I decided to work with the built-in camera on laptops using the PhotoBooth program.  And since the PhotoBooth takes inverted images, I couldn’t just give my students printed words from a word processor.  I had to write a list of words, take a picture of those words and then flip the image using PhotoShop.  (It sounds way more complicated that it really was). So on Monday I split my students in groups of 3 – 5 students.  I gave each group an envelope with the inverted words and 20 minutes to take photos of as many different sentences they could create.  I loved watching the collaboration of holding, reordering and taking the pictures as well as the educational goal of good sentence construction. My favorite part:  when students sheepishly admitted that they “cheated” in making the sentences by only changing a verb or subject.  They would make a sentence that said, “I go to the library” and then simply change the verb to make the sentence say that “We go to the library”.  To me, it’s a great way to practice sentence construction and grammar, similar to when children learn how to put letters in front of the word “at” to make “cat” and “hat”.

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The sentence pictures turned out very well. Students made a folder of their photos and saved their folders to my folder on the school server.  They were pretty easy to grade too, although this was more of a formative assessment than a straight assessment.

For an added step, I had the students create VoiceThreads using (one of our favorite internet applications).  Students choose from over 100 of their sentence pictures and created a thread of pictures.  For each picture, they recorded themselves reading the English translation of the Spanish sentence.  This helped me assess their comprehension but was also just a nice extension activity in using their own photos.

(I can’t embed the VoiceThreads here, but please check out these examples to see the complete project:  and

The photo taking lesson was for one day and the recording also took just one class period.  I will certainly be doing this lesson again in the future.


2 thoughts on “Sentence PhotoBooth and Dictations

  1. I’m using VoiceThread with my students but am trying to do so from just one account. Is there a way for the students to create accounts without being charged? When using my account, VoiceThread doesn’t allow multiple computers to be logged on.

    1. I think they are called “identities” and any account can create multiple identities. I haven’t done it for awhile, but at one time, I had 56 “identities” under my one account. Students logged into my account, located and used their identities to do their recording and that seemed to work just fine. Now I have them all make their own personal account.

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