Musical Chairs Retell

We are almost at the end of Brandon Brown El Nuevo Houdini!  We will read chapter 10 tomorrow and I will assess on Thursday!  In the meantime I needed a quick formative assessment to see what structures are sticking with the students and what I need to circle tomorrow as we finish the book! 

On Pinterest I found the idea of musical chair writing.  Each student gets a piece of paper and begins writing the story when they hear the music, when the music stops, they move to the next paper!

So we began.  I asked them to retell the novel from chapter 1 in as much detail as possible and started the music.  After about 90 seconds I stopped the song (Cuando Me Enamoro- Enrique Iglesias and Juan Luis Guerra) and they moved on.  It becomes trickier as the game goes on because they have to read what others have written before them and continue from where they left off.  I gave a little more time to account for the reading and moved them after 2 minutes.  

We were able to fit about 7 changes in 15 minutes and the stories were great!  I saw a lot of good vocabulary and structures and I know where we are going tomorrow! 

For the kids, it didn’t feel like a boring written assessment because they got to move around the classroom!  I give it two 👍👍!

Author: senoracmt

I began teaching Spanish in Illinois in 1994. I have taught levels 1-4 in a small rural high school, 8th grade introductory Spanish, Biology 1, and 101 and 102 at the community college level. My Spanish classes are partnered with the community college to offer students 8 semester hours of dual credit on completion of Spanish 4. In 2011 I met Carol Gaab and Kristy Placido and have since co-authored the book "La hija del sastre" with Carol Gaab and authored the novels "La Calaca Alegre", "Bianca Nieves y los 7 toritos." "Vector," "48 horas" and "Bananas" through Fluency Matters. In 2006 I became National Board certified and I have been serving as a mentor both for candidates seeking certification in world languages other than English and a virtual mentor for candidates in all certificate areas. I completed my Masters degree in Spanish education in 2011 and did my research on the use of Understanding by Design to create meaningful cultural units for the language classroom. I am a frequent presenter on this topic, please consider me if you are interested in a workshop on backward design. In 2013 I was named the ICTFL Foreign Language teacher of the year and in 2014 I was selected as CSCTFL's teacher of the year. In November of 2014 I was lucky enough to be one of the five finalists for the ACTFL National Teacher of the Year in San Antonio, TX. What a "Cinderella" experience! You can reach me via email at senoracmt at

9 thoughts

    1. No, it’s a formative assessment for me! I was looking for specific structures like tenía quería and se quedó in their writing. I saw that they did a great job using our new stuff so I think we are ready for the assessment on Thursday!!

  1. I just finished the book with my 8th graders yesterday. I read your post last night and thought, “what a great idea” so instead of completing our individual free-writes about the novel today, I tried this. Students were so focused during their writing and it was fun to have the music playing and to see them moving around. On the way out the door, one of my students turned to me and said, “Thank you Señora, I loved that!” and then her group of friends all nodded and one said, “Me too, can we do that again sometime?” I read them and was very happy with the results.
    Thank you for your awesome ideas. Tomorrow…the yellow brick road! 🙂

    1. We had a great time too!!! It was fun to just get up and move! I made mine too long (11 papers) this time, I would shorten it to 6-7 but otherwise it was a hit! On to the character analysis assessment tomorrow!

    1. A lot of adapted pinterest pins! This week in level 1 I had them read a chapter of their novel and gave them the main idea… They had to find 6 pieces of textual evidence that supported that main idea. I want them to read more deeply than just translation! Cognitively they CAN! Level 3 did a double entry journal where they looked at text parts and wrote a reaction, comment, opinion, or prediction in response! Level for dug deep in the text by identifying inferences, causes and effects, making predictions, visualizing and more!! All stuff that came from pinterest ideas!

      1. Gracias por las ideas! Diving into pinterest today. We start la Hija del Sastre friday in Level 4.

Leave a Reply