Skip directly to content


We participated in this activity called "Telephone" in early on in our monthly inquiry team sessions. I found it worked well in my classroom for vocabulary review, community building, and reflection on different perspectives. Students bring a writing utensil and sit in circles in small groups (I would recommend 6-8 students) and each student receives a stack of index cards (same number as number of people in the group in each stack). For vocabulary review, I would specify a particular theme or unit that students had to choose a related word or phrase in Spanish. Students write their selected word or phrase on the top index card and then pass their entire stack of index cards to the person seated to their left. Upon receiving the stack, students read the word or phrase on the top card and then place the top card face up at the bottom of the pile. They then draw images representing the word or phrase that they just read. When done creating the images, students pass the entire stack (with the card with the drawings on top) to the person to their left. They then look at the card with the drawings, place it face up at the bottom of the entire stack, and write down whatever word or phrase they believe is depicted in the drawing. Students continue to pass the stacks to the left and alternate drawing or writing. Ultimately, students should receive their original stack back and they can look through to see how the word or phrase stayed the same or evolved through the rounds of writing and drawing. 
Sometimes everyone is on the same page: In the following stack of cards, the activity started with the Spanish word for "landscape."
Other times the ideas evolve drastically (still working with the target language though!): 
The first time to introduce and practice playing a full round of the game (we tried it first in English) took almost an entire class period. It was worth the original time investment as students were fully engaged and, once they understood how the game worked, we were able to incorporate it regularly with different variations. The activity serves many different purposes outside of increasing engagement and reinforcing content. It is an important assessment tool for me because I can see which words students consistently select and remember. It also gave me insight to their thought processes. The activity gave us an opportunity to talk about the moments where people had differing interpretations of what a drawing was or the best way to depict an idea, all of which helped to remind us that people think differently and different perspectives are equally valid. Depending on the objective of the activity, at times I would assign the vocabulary words to start the game in advance or I would set more specific parameters for students to choose from (e.g., verbs, objects in this classroom, weather phrases).