Sunday, September 20, 2015

Ask & Switch - A Speaking Activity

It's so important to get your Spanish students actually speaking the language.  I like to tell my Spanish 1 students within the first week of school that no one ever says "Wow, you write Spanish really well."  They say "Wow, you speak Spanish really well."  And students need lots of speaking practice!

One of the speaking activities I like to incorporate into my lessons is Ask & Switch.  At least that's what I call it.  Maybe you already know it by a different name!

Here's how Ask & Switch works:
-Each student gets an index card with a question on one side and a prompt for an answer on the other.
-Students get up out of their seats and walk around the room.  They approach a partner and ask their partner the question on their index card.
-They show their partner the answer prompt and their partner answers the question.
-The partner asks his or her question and the first student responds.
-The two students then switch cards and go find a new partner.

I allow about 3-4 minutes for students to do this activity.

Ask & Switch is great because students get practice both asking and answering questions, and they are guaranteed to ask and answer a variety of questions.  It is also easy (I almost never have to explain the directions more than once), and as long as there is a short time limit, students are engaged in the activity.  They will really be speaking Spanish!


Ask & Switch telephone numbers speaking activity
A couple notes of caution:
As a teacher, you have to have a high tolerance for volume in your classroom.  Every single student in your class will be talking at the same time, and they will also be out of their seats walking around the room.  I've had other teachers and administrators walk into my room when students were in the middle of this activity and they looked mortified, like they thought students were just walking around wildly and I was just sitting there watching them create chaos.  I've also had students see the principal walk in the room in the middle of the activity and immediately sit down like they were about to be in trouble for being out of their seats.  That made me laugh.

Sometimes students think "you may get up and walk around the room" means "you may run around and push other students".  The first few times I do this activity with a class, I explain my expectations for their behavior very thoroughly.  Students who choose to run, push, yell, or just generally take their silliness too far have to sit for the rest of the activity.  No one wants to be That Kid.  These students will pout, feel left out of the activity (FOMO is so serious with teenagers), and are very unlikely to act out during future Ask & Switch activities.

Also, there is a bit of prep involved with this activity.  I have been known to hastily grab a stack of 35  index cards during my planning period and write scrawl questions on one side and answers on the other.  And then after running through the activity with 3 or 4 classes, the index cards all look like they've been run over with a truck and I toss them out, only to start over from scratch the next year.

If you actually take the time to type up the questions and answers, tape them to the index cards, and then laminate them, they will last year after year.  Then you can simply pull them out of your drawer on the day you need them and you're good to go!

Ask & Switch speaking activity
Tip:  I print onto 2"x4" shipping labels and slap them onto 3"x5" index cards.  It's pretty genius if I do say so myself.

I have a freebie set of Ask & Switch cards in my Tpt store with Ir & Places vocab HERE if you want to try the activity out and see how it goes in your classroom!  I sell Ask & Switch sets on a variety of vocabulary and grammar topics and I have Spanish 1, Spanish 2, and Spanish 3 bundles available HERE, HERE, and HERE.  I also sell a hard good version for each topic if you hate prepping activities (frantically during your planning period like me) and would prefer the laminated cards be mailed to you!

Try it out and let me know how it goes!

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