In addition to Bryce Hedstrom’s Persona Especial, I use Ben Slavic’s Circling With Balls (CWB) activity to personalize the classroom.

Today, on day 6 , I began this activity by asking students to draw some of their favorite things on an index card. If you have never heard of this activity, click here to read about it on Ben’s website.

I’m going to share with you how I introduce the activity to the students. I did this in English. The reason I did it in English is because I wanted to do it quickly and efficiently. Doing the drawing is not part of the language lesson. Could I have done the presentation of this activity in Spanish? Yes. I could have. And I have done it in Spanish. However, I now believe it takes too long and is too filled with ambiguity to be effective. So I sacrifice 5 minutes of explanation for a stack of notecards that all have on them what I asked for.

I started by asking my students if they have noticed anything up until now that would indicate to them that my class is a little different than some of their other classes. Even after only 6 days, students are surprisingly astute and articulate about the differences they perceive. They truly are tuned in.
I admit that I baited them a little bit with that question. Their responses demonstrate that they are paying close attention to how class operates and how we interact with them. It did not take long before one of my students in each class said something like the following:

We use each other to learn Spanish here.

That’s right. We do.

I gave instructions five times today and have tried to synthesize all five versions into the best and clearest for you. For me actually. This is how I want to remember my instructions for next year:

“Class, here is another way we will learn Spanish using each other.”

I show a sample card on the projector screen.

CWB Elephant guitar baseball
“We are going to use these index cards to learn Spanish based on what we all do and are good at.

You will put your name in big print on one side of this index card.

On the backside you will draw two lines to divide the card into three sections.

In section 1 draw a game that you are good at and like to play.

In section 2 draw an instrument that you play, have played or would like to play. Or draw another hobby or activity that you like to do outside of school.

In section 3 draw a pet or pets that you own, have owned or would like to own. Or draw another animal that you like. If you really like unicorns draw one.

Use one word in English to label your drawings.

Most of you draw really well but some of you draw cats that look like dolphins.

Remember, it is impossible to draw worse than me. Try not to be self conscious about your drawing. Nobody will see them. But your classmates will learn about what things you’re good at!”

If you don’t have any models to use, feel free to grab one of these here.

CWB volleyball drums penguin CWB swimming piano dog CWB soccer guitar dog CWB soccer clarinet cow CWB Karate piano dog CWB baseball horse guitar

Setting Up Circling With Balls

4 thoughts on “Setting Up Circling With Balls

    • October 4, 2015 at 9:56 pm

      At the secondary level, many kids’ identities are tied to the sport they play. The Balls part, as I understand it, has to do with two things- the first is that talking about who plays what sport is easy because there is always an athlete present. But it also has to do with technique in that Ben holds a football when talking about a football player and my feign giving it to him during the class, but only does give it to him after he’s “earned” it by engaging, answering questions, etc.

  • January 3, 2018 at 6:59 pm

    Does this continue somewhere? What happens next? What do you do with the cards?

  • August 23, 2019 at 2:16 pm

    That sounds right to me from what I got out of his workshop, but I have always pictured the name Circling with Balls activity as juggling. You the teacher are throwing balls up in the air. The balls are the questions. After you get an answer and discuss, you throw the next one up. They go around, and around, up and down and the teacher is the juggler, always keeping all the balls in the air or keeping the questioning going. 🙂 Anna

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