Sunday, August 12, 2012

artsy info-gaps!

As you know if you read my blog regularly, info-gaps are some my favorite activities because students have a real purpose for communication.  I'd like to share a type of info-gap activity that's often a student favorite as well: drawing info-gaps.  I fell in love with them when I read about an activity called "Dress the Bear" in Curtain & Dahlberg's (2003) fantastic book, Languages and Children, Making the Match. (One of the few grad school textbooks that I seriously enjoyed reading!)

Ever since, I've adapted the activity several times to suit my students and courses.  In my versions for 6th and 7th grade Spanish, the students performed 3 basic steps:
  1. Draw and color something (2 different examples below).  (Be sure to emphasize that their creation is a SECRET or they will get sooooo excited they'll announce what they're drawing and ruin part 3!)
  2. Write sentences to describe what you created. (I found that my beginning learners needed this support to prepare themselves for the communicative part.  Moreover, this was a great chance for me to circulate and help students who were struggling with the grammar constructions.)
  3. Pair up for communication! Take turns reading your sentences to your partner and listening to theirs.  As you listen, draw & color what they describe.
Here are a couple of the handouts that my students used for these activities. 
  • 7th grade clothing & colors unit: "Dress Brutus"! Even students who weren't OSU fans LOVED "giving Brutus a makeover", converting Brutus to their team's colors (ugh...), making a girlfriend for Brutus, etc!  (Sorry, I didn't think to scan any actual student work, but these were usually hilarious!)
They drew a new outfit on the left Brutus, then drew their partner's description on the right-hand one.
  •  6th grade animals & colors unit: "Wacky animals!"  My students LOVED any activity where they got to color animals crazy colors, including this one!
For this one, students designed their animals on the front and then used the blank back of the handout to draw their partner's animals.

I'll admit that I had my students do so many info-gap activities that they'd get tired of some of the simpler types.  (However, they would still rate them as activities they LEARNED the most from in post-unit surveys!)  Nevertheless, the creative element in these artistic ones has always generated high enthusiasm, even though they came later in the trimester.

If you're struggling to get your students excited about speaking in the target language, try an activity like this!  You'll be astonished as the energy level in your room skyrockets (in the TL)!


  1. I've done a similar activity but in mine they first have to draw the scariest monster they can, then describe it. Then I hand out the descriptions anonymously & they draw what they read & finally, compare the original drawing. Most of the time, the drawings do have similarities, but the writers get the point about being detailed in the descriptions. Thanks for sharing another way, Jennifer.

  2. These are awesome! You should share these in Twitter. It's hard for me to think to visit her every so often, but if it showed up in my feed I would be happy to check all your cool stuff.


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