Drama Timelines

Sometimes, on magical days when I don’t have a strong lesson plan, inspiration falls out of the sky and I pull off something pretty sweet, without any planning at all. Today was one of those days, and this was just too good (and too easy) to keep to myself! I used this to review the drama of a telenovela we’ve been watching all year, but it would also work to recap a novel or movie or what have you.

In my Spanish 4s, we’re deep into the drama of Gran Hotel, Season 1. To recap alllllllll the drama, I told everyone to take a mini whiteboard, and think of something that happened in Gran Hotel, sometime this year…and they had to write it in Spanish, in the past tense on their whiteboard. As they finished, they showed me their sentences and I did a super quick grammar check with them individually, to clean up their boards just a bit. (Things like, “We can’t say, “Alicia y Julio se besó…what do we need to make it say THEY kissed”…but too keep things moving I didn’t worry much about the little mistakes. You’ll catch a few of those if you look closely! ) I also checked for repeated events, and for anyone who wrote something already written about, I told the 2nd student to think of something else to write down.

Then we established where in the classroom the timeline would begin (the very first thing to happen) and where the most current events would go. Then I turned them lose to read each others’ boards and figure out where every board should go. (Now, there’s a lot of drama in Gran Hotel that is revealed late in the game but actually happened much earlier…we went by the actual chronology of what happened, not when it was revealed, but you go ahead and follow your heart.)

Then, I had them read all the boards, think about what’s missing, then create another board, with a new sentence, repeating the same process, and then figuring out where it belongs in the timeline.

And then again! (I have a LOT of white boards and small Spanish 4 classes…everyone ended up writing 3 or 4 statements. If you don’t have that many boards, borrow from a neighbor or use paper and markers) Eventually we had a gigantic mess of a timeline with arrows and twists a turns. Behold, a thing of beauty:

Then, they had to read ALL the boards (again!) and decide which 3 represent the most essential events of the whole Telenovela. They starred their top 3 events.

Now…if I wasn’t chomping at the bit to get rolling with Episodio 8, we would have done more with this beautifully messy work of art. They could make the 3 cringiest moments or add an X to indicate the 3 events they’d cut if they were the director. If we had more time, we would have discussed their choices and argued a bit about what should be cut or added…We got a good deal of mileage out of our drama timeline, but we totally could have milked it for more!

Update: My colleague Amy just created Drama Timelines in her level 3 class, to discuss Go! Vive tu manera…and she followed it up with a Timed Writing. What a great way to prime the pump and set them up for success!

If you’re also watching Gran Hotel and you’re like “Crap! We’re no where close to the end and we’re never going to finish season one”…here’s how we fly through the later episodes…I’ve got slideshows for Episodes 5-8 of Gran Hotel Abridged, so you can skip the inconsequential stuff, read the not very exciting stuff, and watch all the good juicy parts! Julio and Alicia finally kissed this week and there was much rejoicing, weeping, applauding and high fives! Honestly, do teachers of other subjects even know how much fun we have?!

I hope your Teacher Appreciation Week is treating you well and you’re feeling very appreciated! I appreciate you and thanks for keeping this little blogcito alive 🙂


  1. Sometimes I have those days too with no real plan and *voila* …. INSPIRATION during my commute. This is a great idea and EASILY doable. My Spanish IV’s (a CCP class for dual credit) are completing their Ohio Seal of Biliteracy tests this week so we will finish what we have to to comply with what the University needs and then we can play this with El Internado! Thanks for the great ideas YET AGAIN!


  2. This is great! I read about it at 7:30 a.m. today and did it with a class at 9:30 a.m. – no prep needed at all, just a few modifications to the core idea to make it fit with a Señor Wooly video my 8th-grade classes have already extensively watched/discussed (so students have had a lot of input and were ready to output). Students were in groups of 4 with a big stack of index cards. Each student individually wrote 1 sentence and then put them in a timeline. If 2 sentences were about the same event, they decided which one to keep based on level of detail (ex. – “La mamá y la niña van a la dentista en su carro” would trump “La mamá y la niña van a la dentista”). Then they did another round – 4 more sentences – and another, and another. Then groups circulated to read and do some light, targeted editing of other groups – they used a red sharpie and focused on the verb (“él/ella” form vs. “ellos” form). It’s always interesting to me when they can quickly see this error in the writing of others even if they miss it in their own. Thanks for the great idea – it’s my favorite kind of activity because it feels like a “game” even though it actually is a writing prompt!


  3. Hola! I enjoyed your blog very much! I was wondering if you could tell me if you skip parts when watching “Grand Hotel”? and if so, have you written down the minutes you decide to skip? That would be very helpful as I haven’t watched this show and I want to use it in my classes this year. Please let me know and thank you.


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