In Spanish 3 we just wrapped up a unit I reworked to continue working on students’ narration in the past, framed within understanding and talking about the news. This activity we did combines culture, interest, interpretive (reading) skills, presentational (writing), and interpersonal (speaking) skills.
First, using a newspaper website or a regional/international version of Google News, find as many interesting news articles as you will have groups. Make sure it’s an eyewitness-worthy event (a great goal, an accident, a dramatic rescue, a strange happening, etc.-not a celebrity baby being born, e.g.).
Give each group an article and give them about 4 minutes (timed) to put the main idea in a sentence (proficiency skill: identifying the main idea). No details – not how many were wounded, not where the accident was, just “There was a serious accident.”
After everyone shares the main idea, they have 10 minutes to find four main details that include a past action and put those into sentence form.
Then, each person has 3 minutes to come up with their own detail as if they had witnessed the event. Encourage creativity – an elephant wearing a large purple hat slipped on a banana, for example. To keep students learning vocabulary without extending themselves too far, limit this detail to one word they don’t know.
As a class, talk about how to ask questions a typical reporter would ask – what happened? where were you? what did you see?
Finally, mix the groups. One person is the reporter and the other person is the eyewitness. Students interview each other to get an idea of what happened at the other person’s event. Then, they switch roles and role-play it again.
By timing this, we paced the activity rather quickly and finished it within one class period. Students were reading, writing, listening, and speaking (both prepared sentences and spontaneously – they didn’t know what the “reporter” would ask), practicing past tenses, practicing vocabulary, working collaboratively and individually, all these integrated the way real life is. During the speaking at the end, I listened briefly to each pair and gave them a grade based on the categories I assess when spot-checking.
Photo credit: Mundo al revés