What’s in your CI Toolbox?

Whether you are new to teaching language through USING the language or a pro with years of experience, there is no doubt that providing tons of input in the classroom can be taxing. It is fun to story-tell or story-ask with the class but story after story day after day takes the novelty out of what we do. 

How do we keep the “story” but also vary what our class looks like from one day to the next? It is all right here in your CI Toolbox!

ART:

Find a painting that tells a story! For Spanish teachers, Carmen Lomas Garza‘s art is a great way to use an authentic piece to develop the “backstory” of what was happening. The great thing is that these backstories tend to draw out some cultural details as students begin to notice things in the work of art. 

It doesn’t have to be a painting. Have students draw funny scenes, project them or simply hold them up, and create stories about them! 

READING:

Where better to find a story than in a comprehension based reader! Whether in FVR where students can explore a variety of stories or through whole class reads in which you explore a cultural piece together, reading is powerful input! 

GUESTS:

Bring in a guest speaker who you know can engage your students in the target language… No guests to bring in? Try a virtual guest! The great thing about virtual guests is that they can appear live or via shared video clips! 

Consider: Bilingual friends, students who have studied abroad, students who are language majors or minors in college, tour guides from your student tours, authors of the readers you enjoy, other teachers and classes!

SONGS AND MUSIC VIDEOS:

Music just gets us in the heart! There is rarely a song we do in class that the students hate. While some are more “ear-wormy” than others, they always enjoy the CI based activities we do with the songs and their videos.

Go beyond the CLOZE activity by telling the “story” of the music video and using pieces of the lyrics to make the story an authentic retell.

SHORT FILMS AND FILM STUDIES:

I love doing Movie Talks! My favorite of all times is The Present (check it out here if you want a step by step on how to movie talk the video! What a great way to dig deep into the story, build vocabulary and grammar in context, AND visually engage our learners. 

Films are also a story! While I wouldn’t movie talk an entire film, I have movie talked powerful scenes before I have students watch them. The great thing about the film is that they watch and the real exercise in building narrative comes after. You give them a great story and then tell and re-tell it!

APPS AND REVIEW GAMES

I am a sucker for Gimkit… but just vocabulary translation isn’t using sites (Quizizz, Quizlet, Quizalize, Kahoot)  like these to their fullest potential! Try making the activities input based. Read a question, find the answer. Read a description, identify the character. Read a story chunk, identify what comes next.

NARRATIVE GAMES

Have you ever played Assassin (Mafia, Werewolf)?  This is my “Plastic Ocean” Mafia game… if you’re not sure how to play, the instructions should help you get started! You can play Assassin after any story based unit as a way to recycle structures. I always do a couple of rounds of the story to model and then let student storytellers take over. 

You deserve a break!

From a Humpty Dumpty tumble of an egg to a Goose Chase to find out what all of the characters from the reader you just finished are doing, you can find a story pretty much anywhere! Keeping the input flowing is SO much more fun when you fill your toolbox with solid, CI based activities!

What is your favorite CI based tool?

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 gmail.com.

One thought

  1. Thank you for sharing! I love all of these ideas for incorporating art, music, and games into our lessons. Also, I like what you said about bringing in guests. As a non-native speaker, I find guests are a valuable resource. If you or interested in more on CI, you might enjoy my recent post: http://teachinginthetargetlanguage.com/6-ways-comprehensible-input-will-help-us-to-stay-in-the-tl/. I am looking forward to hearing more from you. I am always looking for more ideas on CI and other topics related to teaching a language. Thank you for this post! 🙂

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