Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Telephone Relay

It is funny how one can learn a particular CI activity, pass it along to others to use, and then completely forget about it. Just recently, my colleague Rachel Ash shared a post-reading activity with our Latin 3 instructional team called Telephone Relay, and I said, "Wow, how does this work?" and she replied, "I learned this from you!" Once Rachel showed me how the activity works, then I completely remembered it (and vividly remembered when I had demonstrated it at a professional development for Rachel years ago!), but I am shocked that I have not used it in in the classroom since 2016! For some reason, it just was no longer on my radar. I am grateful to Rachel for bringing this activity back to my attention, because I really do like it.

I truly wish that I remembered from whom I learned this post-reading activity so that I can give proper credit (maybe Martina Bex or Cynthia Hitz?), but here are the directions:


  1. Print out a reading of a known story - you will need a reading for every 3 students.
  2. On index cards, write sentences from the story - again, you will need to make copies for every 3 students. For example, if you have 10 groups of 3 students, you will need to have 10 copies of each card. 
  3. Number those cards accordingly so that all card #1s are the same, etc.
  1. Divide your students into groups of 3. Groups of 4 are possible but one student will sit out each round. Groups of 2 will not work.
  2. Each group will need to have two whiteboards and two markers.
  3. Number each person in the group as #1, #2, and #3.
  4. Persons #1 and #3 will have a whiteboard and marker. Person #3 will also have a copy of the story.
  5. Person #1 will pick up card #1, and read the sentence on the card silently but not showing it to Person #2 or #3. After reading the sentence, person #1 will DRAW that sentence on the whiteboard without anyone seeing it, and then Person #2 (and only Person #2) will take a look at the picture.
  6. Person #2 will TELL Person #3 (most likely in English but can be in the target language depending on the level) what was seen in the picture.
  7. Based on what Person #2 said, Person #3 will look through the story to find the sentence which best matches that description and then will WRITE that sentence on the whiteboard.
  8. As a class, you as the teacher reveal what the sentence was on card #1 - hopefully that is what is written on every Person #3's whiteboards.
  9. Erase the whiteboards and move the whiteboards in a clockwise position so that there is now a new person #1, person #2, and person #3. If it is group of 4, there will be a new person sitting out.
  10. The new person #1 will pick up card #2, and the activity starts over again.
  1. This is a novel way to review a reading due to the variety of duties/tasks and rotation.
  2. I give about 2-3 minutes for a round. Students will work on their own pace during that time, with the goal of having Person #3 finished when time is up. 
  3. There are some strict rules about Person #1 which I enforce during this activity:
    • When drawing, Person #1 cannot draw with the whiteboard on one's lap, because then everyone (especially Person #3) can see the picture as it is being drawn.
    • When showing the picture, Person #1 needs to show it to Person #2 in a way that Person #3 cannot see it.
  4. I like how this activity addresses many modalities and that each student does get a chance to experience them.
  5. This is a great activity to get students to re-read a story and to do some close reading. 

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