In my previous article, Spanish Classroom Activity for Teaching Reading Passages I talked about an exercise in which the students are split into groups to focus on a reading passage. This next activity also involves splitting up the class into groups to read a passage, but it takes it one step farther. Now the students are going to work as a group to write about what was just read in Spanish.
Pick a passage from your text book or from any other source that has Spanish written at the level your students can understand. These passages should be less than a page long. Before the class breaks up into groups to read go over the important vocabulary words that you feel the class may need help with. Now split the class into groups of fours. Instruct each group to read the passage sentence by sentence in Spanish and discuss what each sentence means. When it looks like everyone has finished read the passage out loud as a class. Have different volunteers read each paragraph and stop to check that the students understand the gist of what they have read. The point is that you want the entire class to understand the overall meaning of the passage before continuing.
Now comes the challenging part. Have the students put the passage face down so nobody can see it. Now have one student per group take out one piece of paper. Tell the class that each group is to attempt to write the passage just read from memory. You will hear some gasps and some groans so just reassure everyone that you are not grading this. The goal is for students to work as a group to remember what happened in the passage and to figure out how to convey that in Spanish. Tell the students to stick as closely as they can to the words and phrases that were used in the original. Give each group about fifteen minutes to do this.
Make sure each group has one or two strong Spanish students. If one student is very weak in Spanish he can be the one to write what the other group members tell him. Another student who may be struggling with Spanish can be the one to look up unknown words in the dictionary. Try to make sure that each student is actively participating.
At the end of class collect each group’s writing. Depending on your class, you may get some pretty messy versions. That is OK. Your goal is to have the students working with each other and helping each other to remember and write what they just heard in Spanish.