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Draw 1-2-3: my new favorite reading comprehension activity!

August 21, 2016

I recently read about the Draw 1-2-3 activity on the Latin Best Practices blog, and I am obsessed! Bob Patrick shared the idea, and I love that it is very simple and can be used to move students from comprehension to expression with no stress. Here's how you do it!

Draw 1 2 3 is a simple reading activity that helps students visualize and personalize a text and describe it in their own words

Step 1: Students interpret a text (or start imagining!)

Nothing special here! The text can be anything--the chapter of a book, a class story, a fairy tale, a news article, a conversation...anything! Instead of reading, students could interpret a piece of audio content from a song, a spoken story, a commercial, or an informational video. Students could even watch a silent film and base their drawing on that! Heck, students could even skip this step altogether and just imagine a story or scene in their mind to work from. The activity is super flexible, which is one of the things that I love about it!

Step 2: Students draw ONE picture

If students have read or listened to a text or watched a video, they now draw ONE picture based on that content. If it is a story, they might choose one scene from the text to illustrate. If they are just imagining something, all they need to do is draw a picture of whatever crazy scene they can create in their mind. This should be a fairly big picture, filling a half page of paper or more.

Step 3: Students add TWO speech bubbles

Now, students add TWO speech bubbles to their original illustration. I find it helpful to give students a minimum word requirement for each speech bubble (say, for example, 10 words). With no minimum word requirement, you'll likely get more than a few papers containing speech bubbles with just "Sí" or "No" written in them. Most of the time, I would have my students write the speech bubble dialogue in the target language (in my case, Spanish). However, if I really wanted this activity to be all about checking for comprehension, then I might require students to write the dialogue in English.

Step 3: Students describe the scene with THREE sentences

Now, have students write three sentences in the target language that describe what is happening in the scene that they drew. If you have had students draw a scene from a text, what I love about this portion of the activity is that they are now given an opportunity to move into the productive mode, but in a very safe way. They are probably summarizing or paraphrasing the text, or perhaps bringing to it their own unique point of view. Supported by the original text, this is not a scary way to produce writing in the target language.

Instead of having students describe the scene, you might choose to have them

  • Give their opinion about the scene (explain why they liked or disliked it, state whether a character made a good or bad choice, etc.)
  • Explain how the given scene relates to the text as a whole
  • Describe the scene from the point of view of one of the characters
  • Share a connection that they have with one of the characters or with this particular scene

See Draw 1 2 3 in action!

Here are some of the many lessons into which I have incorporated this awesome reading activity:

Got more ideas?

Have you tried out Draw 1-2-3? How have you used it in your classes? I'd love to hear adaptations!

Draw 1 2 3 is a simple reading activity that helps students visualize and personalize a text and describe it in their own words

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