Getting Texts: Companion Post to Input-Based Strategies & Activities

**Check out the EZ conversions for remote learning!**
**Updated 7.10.2021 with Card Talk Stories**

See this post for all the input-based activities you can do with a text. But how do we end up with a text in the first place?! Here are all the ways I’ve been collecting:

**N.B. Many interactive ways to get texts require you to write something down during the school day, else you might forget details! If you can’t create the text during a planning period within an hour or two of the events, jot down notes right after class (as the next group of students line up for the Class Password?), or consider integrating a student job.**

No-Prep Writing

  • Summary & Write (me)
    Students have 10 minutes to write an English summary of what was read the day before, then *in the target language* continue, or write a new ending. Select 1 or 2 of these, type/edit, then read later. Where’s the input?! Have students re-read (or actually read for the first time what they should’ve read for homework) before continuing the story.
  • Write & Discuss (shared by Mike Peto)
    Towards the end of class, the teacher discusses & writes/types out what happened that day as students copy into notebooks. This is crucial, and can replace ANY writing/typing you would otherwise do during planning period. For example, instead of typing up the story from something like Stuffies & Stories, do a Write & Discuss so each student has the text immediately, and with no printing. This works best with shorter texts.
  • Timed Writes (Retell & Free) (source unknown)
    Any written output is just one step away from becoming input. Edit, type student story retells/free writing, then use in an input-based activity.
  • First Reading Retell & Draw (Alina Filipescu & Jason Fritze)
    Although I’ve done input & drawing activities, I’ve never done one immediately following a story (same or next day). This is the first interaction a story text. that Jason’s students have. It’s like Write & Discuss, but with drawing. Using a storyboard template, students co-retell the story with the teacher, who’s drawing the scenes and writing the story sentences on a projector. Students draw their own scenes and copy the sentences onto their own paper. Follow up would be to project and discuss student drawings. PQA opportunity! A parallel story (written beforehand with targeted structures, or after class) could be printed and distributed after this first reading.
  • Silent Conversation (Carrie Toth)
    State a topic, students write a question, pass paper, answer question or write follow-up, then continue. Collect student products, interpret, the edit/type up. Do this to slow down the pace, and/or when energy is low.

No-Prep Talks

  • Personalized Questions & Answers (PQA) (source unknown)
    Remember details from student answers, then type them up. Seriously, I’ve begun classes with a projected quote that a student told us the week before. These discussions can sustain the whole class period!
  • Weekend Talk / Stuffies & Stories (Chris Stolz)
    Ask students about what they did, or make things more interesting by sending home stuffed animals (class mascot?) on Friday that students email 5 pictures of. Treat the pictures like Picture Talk, below.
  • Card Talk (a.k.a. Circling with Balls, Ben Slavic)
    N.B. review cards of learners not mentioned in class, and type THOSE up in order to double the input in a more communicative and compelling way!
    Students write their name on paper/whiteboard, then draw or answer a prompt (e.g. 4 things you like, or like to do). Add moving from left/right side of room (and space for indifference) for a more energetic version. The student who draws nihil (nothing) actually helps us out. The “nothing” response makes it all the easier to launch into some non-examples, either/or questions, and Personalized Questions & Answers (PQA) comparisons, as well as “I don’t believe you” and “liar” rejoinders that are instant hits that extend the conversation every time!
  • Picture Talk (source unknown)
    Project an image, and talk about it.
  • Selfie Talk (Chris Stolz)
    Students email a Selfie from the weekend. MUST be appropriate, and try to include 2 students from class.
  • Calendar Talk (shared by David Maust)
    Talk about the day in history, what’s going on in school, whether students have birthdays…any event during the week, really.
  • Wall Talk (me?)
    Choose a word from the Word Wall, and start asking questions, or making statements.
  • Item Talk (me?)
    Put something on a table before class begins, then start making statements about what’s obvious, and asking students about what isn’t (e.g. Whose is it? What does it do? Whence it came?). Item Talk could easily move into a class story. For some structure, have students answer a few of these on paper as a “Do Now/Bell Ringer,” collect, then discuss.

No-Prep Other

  • Card Talk Stories (Sr. Sedge)
    Instead of typing up statements of students, use Card Talk details to ask a story in which the student is always awesome, is better than famous people, and always wins. Type these up for more input!
  • Most Vivid Scene (MVS) (me)
    After leading a whole class description of a really detailed scene, this becomes a timed writing activity for a competitive edge. N.B. just set a short timer to limit output and get back to input. Groups vie for the highest overall word count for the win. Include special captions any group can sweep (e.g. longest sentence, most conjunctions, most subordination, most adjectives, etc.)
  • Simple Surveys (Chris Stolz)
    On the board, tally responses to any either/or question. Use 2 columns with a simple negative (e.g. have/doesn’t have, eats/doesn’t eat, etc.), or other descriptive pairs (e.g. crazy/sane, awesome/horrible, exciting/boring, etc.). Include as many rows of different items/details as you like, or do a single question and write reasons in each box.
  • Class Team (Chris Stolz)
    AQUA (Ask Questions Use Answers) to create a class team based on anything; just “make some ridiculous drawings of various kids and group them into a team (e.g. two soccer teams comprised of superpowers). This is like OWI-lite (see below), resulting in a bunch of little characters based on students, but not with OWI-depth details. I used this the other day when there was disagreement/strong preferences over something during a discussion, prompted by “is this a competition?”
  • Personal Story (Chris Stolz, based on Beniko Mason & Stephen Krashen)
    Tell a short story using 1-3 drawings.
  • Funky Venn (Chris Stolz)
    AQUA (Ask Questions Use Answers) to compare a student in class to anything!great for any time a student agrees, or compares themselves to something.
  • Partner List (Chris Stolz)
    AQUA (Ask Questions Use Answers) to draw a student and their fictitious list of significant others—great for any time a student divulges dating info, which sometimes happens more often than we need to hear, right? Roll with it, and help unleash their imagination!
  • 1 Panel Comic (Chris Stolz)
    AQUA (Ask Questions Use Answers) to draw single comic panel with basic dialogue—great for use right after a student says something, especially something the class responds to.
  • One Word Image (OWI) (Ben Slavic, structure shared by Tina Hargaten)
    Begin with one word, ask questions, and then draw the scene/character, etc. For some structure, establish context in L1, then ask questions to get details of Who, What, With whom?, Problem, Resolution (new character, new place, or both).
  • Story Cube Brainstorm & Timed Writes (me?)
    Roll a cube, project w/ document camera, then brainstorm known target language words. Ask PQA, and write known words on the board. Roll another, and continue. Stop when loses steam, then students write using a) any, or b) none of the brainstormed words. Any written output is just one step away from becoming input. Edit, type student writing, then use in another input-based activity.
  • Special Person/Discipulus Illustris (Jody Noble, structure shared by Bryce Hedstrom)
    Interview a student in front of the class using pre-determined questions, then type up their answers.
  • Discipulī et Magistrī Illustrēs (me)
    Teacher colleagues and students choose and answer questions put into Google Slides to play “guess the teacher/student” with classes. 
  • Total Physical Response (TPR)/3 Ring Circus (Asher)
    Simple TPR, or spice things up like creating an obstacle course. Have a few students loop chain commands/actions, introducing one at a time. After the TPR session, type up what the students were doing.
  • Dixit Card Storyasking! (shared by Robert Amstutz)
    Dixit cards
    Project a card, treating it like a Picture Talk, using it to co-create a class story.
  • Storyasking (TPRS) (Blaine Ray)
    **COULD also be low-prep by deciding some words/phrases, or COULD be higher-prep by writing a script beforehand**
    **Storyasking requres training**
    Ask-a-story, then type up the co-created class story.
  • Stump the Teacher (me)
    **This is no-prep, but requires skill**

    In groups, students have 2 min. to generate a list of 5 words in the target language on a piece of scrap paper. Collect the papers, and randomly select one. Now, tell, or ask a brief story featuring all 5 words (i.e. not limited to just the 5, silly, but definitely including them among others). If you can’t do it in X minutes (5? 10?), that team gets a point (or wins if you run out of time, and/or the novelty wears off to continue onto another group’s words). Have a fast processor write out the story for you, go type it up
  • Stump the Class (me)
    Same as above, except students swap papers and then write their own story including the words. Treat this like (OWATS) below, just with all words at once. If a group can’t write a story including all the words, the team that originally generated the 5 words gets a point, moving to the next round. Then, the teams with points generate a new list of 5 words for all the other teams (share words with all groups if fewer teams get points and are generating the lists). Continue until there’s a team that has stumped the entire class. 

Lower-Prep Writing/Texts

  • StoryGuessing (me)
    – Simple 3-sentence script in mind
    Begin telling a story, perhaps inspired by something a student said while entering the classroom, and ask students to guess the next detail by writing down their idea (e.g. “Darvin is sad, but why?”). Then, tell them what the detail is (e.g. “Darvin is sad because he doesn’t have coffee.“), ask who guessed correctly, then continue the story. Fish for one detail, and act like the student guessed correctly. End with Write & Discuss.
  • Scaffolded Story Cube Storyasking (shared by Matthew Mangino)
    – these templates
    Project the sheet, roll a cube, then brainstorm what words come to mind that would fit the current question. Students copy as you add details to the story. Snap pic of the cubes. Type up, edit, and add details/dialogue, cognates, etc.
  • Story Cube Reconstruction (me?, like OWI Profiles, below)
    – Pic of other class’ Story Cube story
    – blank graphic organizers

    Project pic of cubes. In groups, students brainstorm (set a short timer in order to keep English at a minimum) to determine the other class’ story based on the pics of the cubes. Lead a reconstruction of the other class story in the target language using the blank graphic organizer. Finish with revealing the actual story after the whole-class discussion. Use your favorite reading strategy! Type up, then you have new texts to give the other class!
  • One Word At a Time Stories (OWATS) (Bob Patrick)
    – new words w/ English meaning, preferably cut & printed
    – use these instructions for sub plans, or for more structure
    In groups, students write a story after getting 1 new word at a time to use in sentence(s) while the teacher goes around checking stories, and asking PQA). Collect student products, interpret, the edit/type up.
  • MovieTalk (adaptation of Hastings’ method, shared by Michele Whaley, et al.)
    – Preview video, and write a story
    Play a video clip, pause, narrate & ask PQA. For an awesome variation, try what Adriana Ramirez does. 
  • Read & Discuss VideoTalk (This is way easier than MovieTalk!)
    – Preview video, and write a story
    Instead of narrating during a video clip on the spot, just choose a video, write a text/embedded readings, and read & discuss (perhaps the final embedded reading). After reading & discussing a sentence or section, play that part of the video. Pause, read & discuss, then repeat.
  • Parallel Readings (source unknown)
    – Existing text
    – Perhaps use this story template

    Rewrite a parallel version of an existing text by changing details, but keeping most of the structure & verbs.
  • Recycled Readings (me?)
    – Textbook passage
    To improving textbook stories known for not providing enough repetitions of new vocabulary. Just add a parallel character (preferably a student), and recycle the vocabulary from the original as you compare. This is if you MUST use a textbook, but want to provide more CI.
  • Embedded Readings (Laurie Clarcq & Michelle Whaley)
    – Parallel Text
    – Withholding New/Tantilizing Information (not just more words)
    Versions of parallel texts in which content is embedded within subsequent versions. Increasing in complexity ONLY would be Tiered Readings, not Embedded Readings.

Higher-Prep Texts

  • Adapting Existing Texts
    – Time, and skill
    The most obvious, and highest-leverage practice is adapting an existing text by making it more comprehensible for your students. This requires a bit of skill, and definitely some time, but you’ll find that your skills quickly develop with practice. 
  • Tiered Readings (Lindsay Sears)
    – Time, and skill
    – Perhaps use this story template

    Extension of adapting an existing text just once.
  • Writing Your Own Original Texts
    – Time, and skill
    – Perhaps use this story template
    Slightly harder than MovieTalk because you lack an existing story.

9 thoughts on “Getting Texts: Companion Post to Input-Based Strategies & Activities

  1. Pingback: Input-Based Strategies & Activities | Magister P.

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  5. “write an English summary of what was read the day before, then continue, or write a new ending” Just to be clear about continuing/writing a new ending, Is that done in Latin?

  6. Pingback: WOWATS & Other Collaborative Storytelling Options | Magister P.

  7. Pingback: The Daily Lesson Plan: Talk & Read | Magister P.

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