Sunday, September 20, 2015

What To Do When the Novelty and Fun of Doing Skits Wears Off in Class

Got a question this past week about pacing and keeping skits exciting in class:

Hola Jalen.

I purchased your lesson plans for my 8th grade Spanish 1 class.  I have decided to solely use TPRS this year with your lesson plans.  My students like the stories so far and are acquiring the language quickly.  We have only done two stories at this point.
My questions are:

1.  Do you get through all 27 stories by the end of the year?  I wonder if I'm going too fast.  I see my students daily for 40 minutes.  This is the 3rd week of school.

2.  After only acting two stories, the novelty seems to be wearing off a little bit.  I am trying to do other activities in addition to the ones that you have in your plans.  Since I'm new at circling and TPRS, I'm trying to improve so that my lessons aren't boring even though they're repetitive.  Do you have any suggestions for me?

Thank you in advance for answering my questions.  I have really enjoyed your curriculum.


Hi Liddia,

Glad to hear things are (or were) going really well with the first couple of stories! To answer your questions:

1. Each of my lesson plan books is designed to fill up one semester of Spanish, so 1A would be the first semester and 1B would be second semester, but, no, I don't always get through all of the stories in a given semester or year, and it works out okay. But if you think you're going too fast and are worried that you won't have enough stories to fill up a whole year, you may have to space them out and alternate with a reading, games, and/or culture day here and there.

2. Yes, I do have a suggestion for what to do about the novelty wearing off of doing skits. Don't do circling. I don't do it because it drives the kids (and me) nuts. Just narrate the skit all the way through with actors and a few props, then sit the actors down and do Q&A all the way through the story in Spanish, coaching them to respond chorally. That plus the reading (which I now put off until the following day’s lesson, first thing after the warm-up quiz) is enough repetition for my expectations of how much Spanish my students need to learn in a given year. Also, in my classes the skits themselves are more fun if I have the class choose the actors. For more info on exactly how I do that, see my blog posts on Getting Actors part 1 and part 2.

Another suggestion - don't do a skit every single day if they start acting bored with it. Break it up with the ideas I mentioned above.

A third suggestion - I also have a blog post on 25 Ideas for Extending the Learning With Each Story that might add some variety and spice to what you're doing.

Give yourself time and compassion as you're learning to pull off excellent skits in class. It takes a lot of trial and error to figure out how to make it fun every time, and even then, there are simply going to be some "off" days with students. Don't let it get you down. Next time you do a skit, act like everything's great and the skit they are going to act out is awesome!

Hope this helps, and let me know how it goes.


(Thanks Liddia for the great questions! Everyone else, feel free to chime in with other suggestions that work for you!)


  1. Got this comment on this post from my friend Manuel in NJ (via email):
    "Our district uses En Espanol and I have piloted Avancemos. Your lessons cover mostly the same topics. Sometimes I just reorder your lessons to fit the the topic I need to cover. Once, I covered a whole thematic list of vocabulary. For example, I am covering "house" with Level II and am currently covering chores. After doing TPR with chores, and doing your stories and related activities. I stray from your lessons and complete the audio activities related to chores in the text and workbook, video activities, information gap activities, textbook reading, and writing prompt. Your stories and TPR have provided enough comprehensible input to tackle the text activities. The students love the fact that they can understand the audio and videos, someone speaking Spanish besides me. The videos and audios are cute and humorous. Its a nice break, reinforcement, and reaffirming for me and them that they are learning and acquiring the vocabulary. I hope you can share that with anyone who it might help.

    Thanks again,


  2. Jalen - when you say, "acting", what, exactly, do you mean? I am just trying to gain some clarity. Been using your Spanish 4 curriculum. I like it, and the students seem to as well. Just trying to get the skit component down. Thank you in advance for addressing my question.

    1. Hi teachermrw, "acting" means having students act out the skit while I narrate it in class. Let me know if you need more clarification than that or have more questions. (You can also check pgs 3-5 in the "Organizing and Executing Great Lessons" section at the beginning of my books for a fairly detailed explanation of how I conduct skits in class.)


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