Comprehensible Input, Spanish 1 Activities

Estate Tranquil@: Don’t teach the verb Estar; Rather Use It for Real Communicative Purposes in Your Classroom

Sometimes we fret over how to teach, or how students will learn some of those high-frequency structures in Spanish. I remember a few years ago, I just could not fit it all in. It was tiring. However, developing a more CI approach to my curriculum, has freed up a lot of bandwidth, encouraging creative twists on language acquisition, which brings me to our topic today: Using Estar for Real Communicative Purposes.

Taking Attendance Is Party Time

Now that we are virtual, taking attendance is a big deal. Not all students turn on their cameras, and I am better with faces than I am with names. Furthermore, to get in the habit of using “estoy” to mean I am, I added it to our attendance line up. Here is what we do:

  • I call on students and they say “estoy aquí”
  • When a student is not present, I have a student say “Name+ No está aquí hoy.” This has helped us to get to know each other a whole lot better.
  • I also make up random names so they can use “no está” in the third person.

Extension activity+ Community Builder

A few weeks ago, I had students look at the names on the screen and write down 3 students who where in the class. Then, I instructed them to write two people who were not in our class; these people could be celebrities. We use the Jamboard for this activity. I was able to go in to correct their sentences. I modeled how to say three people were in class, so they’d get some experience with using the form “están.” Here is how it looked:

  • Julia está en la clase.
  • Ryan y Derrick están en la clase
  • Michael Jordan no está en la clase.
  • Kanye no está en la clase.
  • La señora Quintero está en la clase.

Students had to then look through and write “Jajaja”, “Qué interesante o “Me gusta.”

The Mood Meter or Calibrador Sentimental is the perfect way to use Estar in novel ways. Although you see the conjugations of Estar at the top of my sheet, students were not privy to these until fairly recently.

At the beginning of they year, I started by having them choose a word to describe their emotions, and couple classes we either extended our vocabulary, hence adding new words, or we sprinkled in structures. Students reported out everyday in the chat o verbally how they were feeling. Most days it was “cansado” see my upper-level trick for incorporating new vocabulary. I compiled the list below with masculine, feminine and non-binary grammatical genders. Students choose their word and share out. I have been so thrilled at all the new words they are learning.

I hope these activities are helpful!

Who am I?

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I am currently a Spanish Teacher in Chicago, IL. I have 16 years of cumulative experience as an International Baccalaureate middle school teacher, high school teacher, and adjunct instructor. I hold a Master’s in Latin American Literature and Cultures coupled with a Master’s in Educational Leadership. These dual degrees have afforded me a vantage point from both ends of the educational spectrum: instruction and evaluation.  I have been sharing my unique perspective on pedagogy and language acquisition for over ten years at national, regional and state conferences. I am also an accomplished author! I have authored several compelling comprehensible novels that allow students to solidify their language skills while experiencing a wide range of different cultures. Check out my resources below. Thanks for stopping by!

Novels and Resources by A.C. Quintero

Teaching Spanish Made Easy (TPT) Catalog

A.C. Quintero Literary Partners!

Fluency Matters

Teacher’s Discovery

Command Performance Language Institute


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