La Tomatina: Resources for Intermediates

As promised, here are the resources we’ve been diving into with my Spanish 4 and Heritage classes lately. Although my Spanish Speakers and my Spanish 4s definitely have different language skills, I’ve found that I can use the same resources for both groups, with just slight modifications in the delivery. If you’re teaching lower levels, here are my Tomatina Resources for Novices.

I wanted to share with my Little Darlings the sheer ridiculousness of throwing thousands of tomatoes, look at how the Tomatina has been affected by the pandemic and also give them a little taste of the Argumentative Essay they’ll write in AP Spanish. We spent about 3-4 weeks on this unit and here’s the play by play:

A Picture is worth a thousand words…

We started out with some interesting images from the Tomatina without any background information. While I used the same introduction slideshow with both levels, this looked a bit different in Spanish 4 and Heritage:

Spanish 4: In pairs and using mini whiteboards, they responded to the prompts:

As students needed vocabulary, I wrote the words they requested on the board. Then we Picture Talked as a whole class, keeping everything nice and comprehensible.

Heritage: Since these students have more productive language, we started out with a strategy I love to use in AP Spanish: Describe and Draw.

Students partner up and each pair has a whiteboard. Partner A faces the board while Partner B sits facing Partner A, but with their back to the whiteboard. Partner A (facing the board) describes the image while Partner B (back to the board board) listens and illustrates. Half the class is describing while half the class is drawing. Then after a min or two the Partner Bs turn around and compare their drawing to the projected image, then the partners switch positions so that now the Partner B is describing and Partner A is illustrating)  We had to make the describing partners sit on their hands because it was just too easy to turn this into a charades game! This was so fun with my Heritage kids…hilarious illustrations and so much laughter!

To wrap up Day 1 of La Tomatina we watched Buñol’s advertisement for the event and talked about who wants to participate. I thought they’d be all about wanting to go…but very few students said they’d join me in Buñol. Should I take this personally?!

Close Listening

Like in Spanish 1, we did a “Close Listening” where students listen to a bit of information, with some focus questions. After we listened to a bit, we discussed and then moved on to the next segment. (To read more about this strategy that I’ve been loving lately and a quick tutorial to make your own, check out this post.)

Then we played a little La Tomatina GimKit with the information they learned.

La Tomatina y la pandemia

Like everything else in our lives, La Tomatina was affected by stupid Coronavirus. We read and discussed this article Buñol propone una Tomatina en realidad virtual. (This is a comprehensified version of the actual article. The original article is linked in my document, so use the version that best fits your kiddos’ needs). We didn’t have time but The Lucky Reading Game would work beautifully with this article, if you’re looking for a little fun. After reading, they loved watching this commercial and we discussed if a virtual Tomatina was a good solution.

Argumentative Essay: ¿Es La Tomatina un malgasto de comida?

Inspired by a comment by Scott Benedict on a CI Facebook Group, I decided this would be a good place to get a jump start on the dang AP ensayo argumentativo. Think of this as the argumentative essay with training wheels…a shortened assignment to introduce them to the task, get them rolling and build some confidence.

I explained to them that on the AP test, they’ll have a question and they’ll have to pick one side of the argument, then support their position using evidence from the provided sources in a well organized essay.

I posed the question: ¿Es la Tomatina un malgasto de comida? and gave them a minute or so to think about their response, before we got started with the sources.

First we read the article ¿Es ético desperdiciar alimentos? (again, simplified to make it comprehensible for my students, but the original is linked in the document) and my students used this Notetaker, where they begin by jotting down evidence for BOTH sides of the argument.

The following class, we listened to the Audio sources. (Unlike the AP exam, I’ve included two short audios, one to support both sides of the argument) Since our goal is always comprehensible input (even in the upper levels), I’ve included some supports for the audio selections. Students listened to both audio clips, we talked about what they understood, then the following slide has the important info outlined, which they add to their notetaker.

After students finished their notetakers, they decided which side of the argument they agree most with. Students then grouped up with students who share their position. In Heritage they worked in pairs to write their essays and in Spanish 4, they formed groups of three. Together, they wrote their introduction paragraph, starting with their thesis. To simplify things, they needed 2 reasons to support their thesis (rather than the standard 3 to create a 5 paragraph essay) to ultimately write a 4 paragraph essay. (Are you aware that I hate grading with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns?! Group work and short essays dramatically reduce grading time and I am all for that!)

To give them lots of support, I split the class into 2 group, making sure the pairs/threes who are working collaboratively on the same essay are in the same group. One group worked on an independent activity for 20 minutes while I focused my attention on the essay writing group. As the pairs/threes finished their thesis, they called me over to take a look, before moving on to the rest of their introductory paragraph. I’m experimenting a lot with Small Group Instruction as of late, and it has been a breath of fresh air- it is so nice to be able to provide personalized instruction without having 30 other kids waiting. After 20 minutes working with one group, my first bunch switched to an independent activity while I worked with the remaining students to develop their thesis and introductions, using this organizer, that’s at the bottom of the notetaker.

The following classes we did the same thing, but focusing on their body paragraphs then finally their conclusions on the third class of essay writing. I gave students this document with useful vocabulary to help them frame their evidence and support their positions.

In Heritage they worked in groups of two, so each student wrote one body paragraph, and they wrote their introduction and conclusions collaboratively. In Spanish 4 (groups of 3 students), they wrote their introduction collaboratively, while student A wrote the first body paragraph, student B wrote the second and Student C was responsible for the conclusion.

Finally, everyone typed their completed essays in a shared google doc. (Each student indicated which paragraph was “theirs” by inserting a footnote at the end of “their” paragraph with their full name, as each student will be assessed individually). Before submitting, all group members read the entire essay to make sure everything looked good.

I am so pleased with their work! Because of the small groups, there was a lot of interaction between me and students, to help them with their word choice and sentence structure, so their final essays are pretty clean and easy to read and score with my writing rubrics.

A few tips to roll out this essay smoothly:

  • Collect everything, every day! I had each group paperclip together all their notetakers, paragraph and conclusion drafts and turn them in each class. There’s nothing worse than a group who is at a total standstill because their absent member has all their papers!
  • Breaking this down the essay into bite sized chunks with a time limit seemed to keep everyone motivated and on track. Twenty minutes with a YouTube timer projected for all to see is a good reminder to use time wisely!
  • I’ve found that my Heritage kids are much more motivated to turn in their final projects when there’s a bit at stake. They were dawdling in the last step (typing up and submitting their essays), so I projected my Google Classroom on the front screen. Each time a group submitted their essay, everyone could see another essay submitted. I rang a bell, congratulated the finished group and reminded everyone else that they needed to submit essay before leaving my classroom that afternoon. That did the trick! I had every single essay before class was over.

Well…that’s how we’ve been spending the month of February in my upper level classes! Hopefully you found something useful to use with your Little Darlings!

Happy Long Presidents’ Day Weekend!! I hope you have something fun planned.


  1. Me encanta! I was trying to think of some kind of mini-unit I could do during the next two weeks before our IB Orals. This is perfect! Once again, thank you for sharing your amazing work, buying you a coffee right now 🙂


  2. Thank you very much for your amazing resources. I have one question, I have been trying some CI activities and I was wondering if you have a copy of how you have set up your curriculum for the Spanish 1 and 2. Thanks


    • Hi Virginia, can you send me an email thru the top of my website? I’ll send you info regarding my curriculum for Sp 1. (Sorry, I haven’t taught Sp2 in ages!)


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