Today it was my task in Spanish III to introduce my students to the “if clause” construct, both for things that are probable or possible and for things that are improbable or impossible. I have had classes for whom this was a difficult item in the past, so I had lots of practice activities planned. So I gave a few examples and a bit of explanation, we practiced writing a few sentences together, and suddenly, it was clear that they got it. All the practice that I had planned would only be redundant and boring for all of us. So I had them get into groups, not yet even sure what I wanted to have them work on. But I like group work, so I figured I’d come up with something while they were moving their desks.
Once they were settled, I told them that each person should choose a word. It could be any word from any vocab that we’ve studied in the last three years. It could be a verb, a noun, an adjective, a pronoun, whatever, although I did mention that I thought choosing an article would be boring. I had them write their words down without sharing with their group. They were already hooked. We’ve never done anything quite like this before, and they were interested (and so was I, as I was making this up as I went along!).
When everyone had their word chosen, I instructed them to write two if clause sentences: one should express something possible or probable, and the other should express something impossible or improbable. The catch: they had to use each of their chosen words at least once. Some groups used all their chosen words in both sentences, some didn’t. I circulated the room and gave them some hints on grammar and vocabulary as they were working. They were enjoying figuring out what kinds of sentences they could make with the words that they had chosen. Some of them were tricky, and many of the sentences ended up being quite humorous.
As they finished writing their sentences, I gave them two sheets of printer paper, one purple and one green. I told them to write their possible sentence on the green and their impossible sentence on the purple, and then draw a picture or series of pictures that illustrated each sentence.
My juniors in Spanish III absolutely love anything that involves breaking out the markers, so this already successful activity was an instant hit. They had a blast, they talked, they laughed, and they learned. And they did it all in Spanish.