Every year has its trends. I think the consensus for top 3 trends of last school year was bottle flipping, Harambe (RIP), and Fidget Spinners. Fun stuff 😉

On Friday night, we had our second NYVTy CI meeting. As always happens when you get a bunch of language teachers together in a room talking about their recent successes, all of us left with lots of new ideas to try out! (The Instagram post below is an image of the question that I posted for us to reference.)

One of my favorite ideas from the night came from Julie Bacher, who teaches in Brandon, VT. She shared a no-prep idea that she was able to milk for comprehensible input! Julie used a Mexican cup and ball toy (see below), but this simple conversation hook could be used with MANY trends that grace our lives 🙂

cup and ball toy from amazon https://smile.amazon.com/Toysmith-619-Wooden-Catch-Ball/dp/B000F4MZZO/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1516735354&sr=8-3&keywords=cup+and+ball


Teacher: Look! The objective is to catch the ball in the cup. Can I catch the ball in the cup?

Students: Yes/No

Teacher: I think I can catch the ball in the cup. Do you think I can catch the ball in the cup?

Students: Yes/No

Teacher: (to individual students) Jashaun, do you think I can catch the ball in the cup?

Jashaun: No, I don’t think you can (OMG! Subjunctive! Jashaun probably won’t use it correctly but that’s okay–in fact, he’ll probably just say “no” and not continue the sentence. That’s okay!!)

Teacher: Class, Jashaun doesn’t think that I can catch the ball in the cup! (OMG! Subjunctive! It’s okay teachers–you can use subjunctive even if students haven’t studied it! They’ll get it!) … Kate, what do you think? Do you think that I can catch the ball in the cup? (You could also add “Do you think that Jashaun is right?”)

Kate: Yes

Teacher: Yupi! Class, Jashaun does not think that I can catch the ball in the cup, but Kate thinks that I can. Thank you, Kate!

(Continue for a few more students, group them together with the haters and the believers so you can use the plural forms of your verbs if your language works like that!)

Teacher: Class, I think/know that I can catch the ball in the cup. Can I do it quickly?

Students: No!

Teacher: No? You don’t think that I can do it quickly? How many tries (or how long) will I need to catch the ball in the cup?

Students: ::shouting out many numbers all at once::

Teacher: What?! Class, Krystal said six. Krystal thinks that I need six tries to catch the ball in the cup! Who else thinks that I need six?

James: Me!

Teacher: What?! James, you also think that I need six tries to catch the ball in the cup? You AND Krystal think that I need six tries to catch the ball in the cup?


Okay…I think you guys get the point! Keep discussing your attempt until the big moment finally arrives and you actually give it a shot! When Julie did this with her students, she purposefully didn’t get it in on the first try. Those of us that are less coordinated won’t need to delay success on purpose 😉 Then, Julie brought it back to discussion: I caught the ball after six tries; who thought that I needed six tries? Who said six? In this way, she brought past tense into the discussion.

From there, you can have students try–and have the same conversations to predict and discuss their completed attempts.

This COULD last an entire class period…it could last DAYS! The important thing is to always monitor students’ engagement. When students stop caring, move on to something else. A fun way to keep cycling back to the same structures and constructions would be to bring in a challenger each day for just a few minutes of class time. Can you get your principal to come to class and give it a try? If so, use the same discussion patterns! Can you get another language teacher to come in? An exchange student? The friend of one of the students in your class? The school custodian? A PARENT?

Want to keep it going? The Dude Perfect channel is filled with different challenges that would work well with this model…including-yes-bottle flipping.


I’m looking forward to sharing more ideas from our nifty PLC as time goes on!

Need to find a PLC near you? Mike Peto created this website to help you find one!

2 replies on “Bottle Flipping and Trick Shots in language classes

  1. My question is off topic, however, it does have to do with Spanish. I am looking to start a unit on the subjunctive and I am looking for some good movies to use for the subjunctive. Is there a “list” of movies that are recommended for certain topics?
    Thank you for all you do!

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