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”.
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 Voicethread.com (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: https://voicethread.com/share/2765151/ and http://voicethread.com/share/2765172/)
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.