Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Hot Potato

This is another activity which I learned from Emma Vanderpool, a Latin colleague and few CI-user in Massachusetts. It is a collaborative activity which can be used to preview a story, to review a known one, or as a warmup using known vocabulary. Here are her directions:

  1. Students should sit in a large circle. All should have a whiteboard/marker/eraser.
  2. Project the story/reading on the board.
  3. Students have a set amount of time to draw (varying from 20 seconds to 1 minute).
  4. After the timer goes off, students then pass the whiteboard clockwise.
  5. Students should then pick up from where their peer left off.
  6. After the timer goes off again, students again pass their whiteboard, and so on until you judge that the time is up.
  7. Return the original whiteboard to students to review what should be illustrated there.
  1. For each round, I gave students 25-30 seconds to read what was on the board and then 15 seconds to draw. The 25 seconds gave students a chance to re-read the story/sentences on the board, to look at what had already been drawn, and what needed to be added. Giving students only 15 seconds meant that they had to be quick in their drawing but essentially, they drew less which allowed for more rounds and for the activity to last longer.
  2. There is a lot of critical thinking in this activity, because it causes students to re-read the sentences and to compare it with the whiteboard pictures which they have each time to see what is missing. Lots of close reading required!
  3. Instead of a circle, I made it one continuous circuit so that the whiteboards traveled about 8-9 students. When we finished, students got their whiteboards back, and it was fun for them to see what had been added to their original drawing. Plus, since they had illustrated the story over a series of different whiteboards, they knew how they themselves had drawn the various parts of the story, so they liked seeing how others had drawn it.


  1. Can you clarify: are they drawing just one select image of something that happened from the story that they choose at random? So then the next person just adds more details to what they started? Or trying to draw multiple parts of the story in order?

    1. It can be either depending on how you use it. I used it as a warmup where there was a paragraph of number of sentences describing a drawing which had a lot of details. The end goal is that by the end of the activity, the full drawing is complete. Students can add the next details to the picture if they are reading the sentences in order or they can go out of order if they choose. However they do it, it still requires them to do a close reading to see what has already been done and what new parts need to be added.