“Preparing” for finals: The Great Write and Discuss Shuffle

It’s that time of year again…Final Exams! In a perfect world, my Little Darlings would acquire tons of language and I wouldn’t need to worry about silly things like exams or grades. But in my world, I have to give final exams and grades, and my Little Darlings (and their parents!) expect Study Guides and Final Exam Review. While none of these things really have anything to do with language acquisition, having a plan in place makes them feel better and probably won’t hurt them either, so here’s what we do.

Final and Study Guide

Here’s a post about the structure of my Final Exam, if you’re looking for inspiration or some light bedtime reading. (Really that post is about my Spring Final, but my Spring Final looks suspiciously like my Fall Final, so just go with it!) And here’s my Final Exam Study Guide, that I project for my Little Darlings in class, and post in Google Classroom. It gives them an idea of what to expect and a bit of practice. You’ll notice that my study guide is yet another way to give them more input. I’m sneaky like that 🙂


A word about Quizlet-Memorizing vocabulary words and their translations does not lead to language acquisition. Only giving them  Comprehensible Input does that. But…I like to keep a running list of the important words I want my kiddos to know on Quizlet. If they’re in class and paying attention they acquire those words without any trouble at all. But I find it’s really helpful for kiddos who are absent to know where they can find the target words from class. And whenever a parent asks what their kiddos should do to “study” Spanish, it’s nice to refer them to the Quizlet list. And for those High Flyer, Over Achiever Kids who feel like they’re not learning anything unless they have something to “study”, it make them happy too.

The Write & Discuss Shuffle

My fabulous Colleague and Trailer Mate (and former student, which makes me feel old but proud) Amy inspired this great idea. I’m a huge fan of Write and Discuss, and it’s something we do often in class. Amy suggested printing out all of the class stories and W&D from the semester to make available for students to help them “prepare” for their final.

My lovely TA printed out all the Spanish 1s documents and made 2-3 copies of each one, on different colored paper. (So the Día de los muertos story was printed on yellow, and Sean’s Estrella del Día Biography was copied on pink and the Rock, Paper, Scissors story was copied on green and Buster the Boxer was white and so on. Since my school only provides 5 colors of copy paper, there were more than one story on the same color, but all the copies of Karen la Avestruz (our first One World Image!) were on blue, but there were also copies of Jimmy, la caja de jugo (another One Word Image) and our Principal’s biography also on blue. Then my TA shuffled them nicely, so that they were all mixed up, and as I stood at the door, greeting my Little Darlings and listening for their Palabra Secreta, I handed each a story. Let the shuffle begin.

First everyone read the story they received upon entering. They read silently and raised their hand if they came across any unfamiliar words. Then, after a few minutes, everyone stood up and had to find the other student(s) who had the same story as them. They formed a small group and Volleyball Read their story out loud. (If you’re unfamiliar with Volleyball Reading, students sit in pairs, and Partner A translates the 1st sentence into English. Partner B translates the 2nd sentence into English, Partner A translates the 3rd sentences and Partner B translates the 4th sentences. They bounce back and forth, ensuring that both partners are engaged and working together. I’m not sure who coined the term “Volleyball Reading”, but in class I call it Ping Pong Reading, because it bounces back and forth between partners quickly. Correct me if I am wrong (I am not very athletic!) but I remember from my middle school volleyball days that 3 people are allowed to hit the ball before it  goes over the net, so I think Ping Pong Reading is a more apt description than Volleyball Reading, but I digress…)

After they had a few minutes to read their story with a partner, I put on some jams (Love La Maestra Loca’s Nifty Mute Trick!), they stood up and traded papers until the music stopped. Then they sat down with a new story, read it silently first, then found a partner with the same story, read loud then we shuffled stories again. We did this 4 times and I was surprised how well it worked! They were on task and engaged and got in TONS of reading!

Next class, I think we’ll crumple up all the stories and have a snowball fight while the music plays, then they’ll sit down to read whichever story is in their hand when the music stops. My TA spent a long time making copies, so I’m going to milk this for all it’s worth!Update: As students came into class, I randomly handed each student 2 papers. I explained everything in slow and comprehensible Spanish, while writing the instructions on the board. We threw them at each other while “Feliz Navidad” blared, then when the music stopped, they had to grab 2 papers. If anyone had 2 of the same story, they won a point, then they read the story in their left hand, then the story in their right hand, if they had time. When the music started, the snowball fight started again.

I hope that your semester is wrapping up well!

Oh, and have you heard?

I’m super excited to present at Comprehensible Online again this year! Comprehensible Online is an entirely online CI conference with over 100 sessions ranging from storytelling, classroom management, assessment, the research behind what we do, and classroom demonstrations, to just name a few! If you register, you have from February 15 through May 17 to learn from the CI Greats and you can even earn up to 6 Graduate Credits for participating.  This year I’ll be sharing the systems I have in place to ensure that my classroom runs smoothly. I’ve got another session full of my favorites ways to have fun in class and a third one for teachers just starting out on this CI journey! I hope you’ll join us! And if you register with the code AnneMarie20, you’ll get a $25 discount and you’ll be supporting the work I do here on my little blogcito.



Leave a Reply to Brillante Viernes: December 13, 2019 – Maris Hawkins Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s