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August 20, 2011

When introducing new vocabulary for a story, it is very important to establish a gesture for each term. Often, I come up with a gesture and teach it to my class. For more difficult terms or for "fun" terms, I ask students to create a gesture. This week, the second strategy was immensely successful with the term «te ves muy guapo» (you look great!), as students demonstrated what their reaction is when they see a "fine" member of the opposite sex! Hilarious! In addition to gesturing terms as they appear in the story, here are some activities that you can use gestures to reinforce target vocabulary and assess comprehension:

  1. Tell students to "show you" term x. (Ex: "Show me «habla»"). At first, this should be done with eyes open so that students can refer to the board. Later on, this can be done with eyes closed as a formative assessment.
  2. With eyes open or closed (I prefer closed), read a sentence to the students that includes the target term in context. Have students do the gesture to the word that they heard. This is a good practice, because it is one thing to identify a word when it's on its own and quite another to pull it out from a string of words. This can be an assessment.
  3. Have students stand back to back with a partner. You shout out a term, and they must simultaneously jump around and do the gesture to their friend. They can correct each other if one or the other does the wrong gesture.
  4. Set up a rock/paper/scissors lineup (Have a class discussion to develop reasons about which term or activity beats which). Post the hierarchy on the board (ve beats camina, camina beats corre, corre beats ve), then play the game like you would rock/paper/scissors.
  5. As an assessment, say one of the target terms on its own or in context and do a gesture to accompany it. Students watch you and must write down whether you did the correct gesture or not.
  6. As an assessment, do a gesture and have students write down the term (as a portion of a summative assessment) OR whisper it to a friend (as a formative assessment).
  7. Play "Simon Says" with the gestures for terms you've learned throughout the year.
Gesture activities are excellent brain breaks when you're in the middle of storyasking. It's important to get the kids up and moving--or at least thinking in a different, fun way--every 10 to 15 minutes so that they can maintain concentration for the duration of the storyasking session.
What are some ways that you use gestures in your classroom?

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