Hola, Locos!

I finally attempted a One Word Image with my Spanish II students! I can’t exactly explain why I’ve always avoided OWIs, but some adults are still afraid of the dark, so let’s move on.

If you don’t know, a One Word Image is a class character or image created via asking a story so that students are in complete control of the final personalized product. It’s creator, Ben Slavic, can explain this plan way better than I can!

Although I didn’t follow all of the OWI steps by the book, a lot can be learned from this lesson. Let’s do some reflection!

  • Non-Scientific Plan of Attack:
    • Allow the students to select a Profe Dos (see below).
    • Ask the Ss to select an Artist.
    • Beg for lots of participation.
    • Ask the Ss to name a thing.
    • Ask the Ss to describe the thing via lots of either/or and open response questions.
    • Teach to the eyes to evaluate comprehension, know when to pause and point, and know when to ask for volunteer translators.
    • Ask the Ss to tell me what the thing is doing, where it is, how it feels, if it has any pets, and more. The options are endless and the difficulty level is selectable. 
    • Retell it.
    • Name it.
    • Write about it.
    • Retell it
    • Read about it.
    • Retell it.
    • Ask lots of comprehension questions.
    • Complete lots of formative assessments.
    • Draw it.
    • Show it.
    • Retell it.
    • Display it.
    • Be proud of it.
    • Use it all the time for other random activites in the future.
  • Profe Dos: You will see me frequently ask a student, who was named Profe Dos by his or her peers, to make decisions for us. This student has to listen to the other students in order to decide on the most popular choices so that I don’t have to take a side. Another benefit is that it helps the class maintain control of the character to keep us student-centered. It’s Skill #36 in TPRS in a Year from Ben Slavic, and here are some more classroom jobs from Bryce Hedstrom. PS. I don’t pay the student some percentage of my monthly wages. I got billz.
  • The Alphabet: You will see me pretend like I can’t spell things while writing our story on the whiteboard. The truth is, I am not always pretending, and we’re also reviewing the alphabet in context.
  • Responses: There are many ways to ask for responses. In this lesson I asked for voting with raised hands, asked students to shout their ideas all at once, asked particular students for their input, looked for smiles and clapping, asked either/or questions, provided options, and more. Next time I hope to incorporate whiteboards and voting technology like a polling app so that I can hear more from the introverts and those who feel like they can’t get a word in.
  • Management: It’s obvious that some classes are harder for me to control than others. Sometimes I have to encourage participation, but other times I have to point at our rules and ask for “atención” in order to minimize yelling. This is exactly why we don’t treat all hours the same. Next time, I might have the rowdier classes write on whiteboards instead of yelling, review the class rules right before the activity, maintain a seating chart, or only call on raised hands.

Many thanks to Tina Hargaden for providing demonstration videos, and also to Nancy Travis McLaughlin for loaning me sus cojones.

Peace out, Profes!

Gracias, Lily!
Gracias, Ingrid!
Gracias, Ethan!
Gracias, Alyssa!


Tell me something!

  • Goals!!! Love it! Thank you for sharing this! Needed this review of how to create an OWI so I can do one tomorrow!

  • Hi Sarah,
    Fantastic job! I too have been doing OWI’s (on our second one right now). How long is it taking your class to make up these characters? Are you doing a shared write with them of the story?

  • […] Click on the video demo above to see my first try from last week. Since then I have done 6 more stories, and they were a lot more student-centered in a  collaborative story-asking style. I don’t feel the need to come up with an incredible spontaneous story anymore, because I just ask the students how we are going to use each verb along the way. It kind of feels like a super detailed OWI. […]

  • Thanks for sharing your method. To help get wider participation, I like to use Google forms. I have the students fill out an exit ticket after the first day (where we pick the object and describe its personality, physical traits, family, etc.) The exit ticket has students write in their ideas for the name, a super-power the object has, its secret, etc. I choose the top 4 answers in each category before the next school day and make a multiple choice Google Form. Students vote when they come in, and I can see the results instantly. As we continue to create our story, I weave in the top choices, revealing them throughout the story. The students still feel like they have a voice, I maintain some control over the language and ideas and they love seeing if their vote wins.

  • AWESOME! Thanks for sharing this. You’re a NATURAL with the OWI!! I can’t believe you held off so long on doing it. I love how vested my students get when creating a OWI together, and you’re right, the characters that we create from this continue to pop into random stories throughout the year. After this first go, what do you think you would do differently for next time or recommend most to someone dabbling?

    • Andrea!!! I’m so glad you’re here visiting! I can’t believe I held off on OWIs either – fears are weird. 🙂
      I think I covered a lot of the things that I’ll try to do differently next time, but as for advice… A. JUST DO IT! B. Let the kids take you away. It’s more important to let go a bit and THEN to work on your management than to scare them away from participation with extreme ‘no inglés’ rules for beginners. C. You do you. Your OWIs don’t have to look anything like mine. D. JUST DO IT.
      See you soon!

  • This is so great! Thanks for sharing. I teach middle school French and Spanish and was wondering what the level and age were of your group.

    • I do this with complete novice middle schoolers in our exploratory program and also 5th graders. The process/product is especially suited for novices. The great video examples here flow a lot faster than mine do- of course there was some editing. It will take us an entire period to create a simple object with maybe 3-5 features, but they aren’t bored because it’s “theirs.”

      • Exactly! I love that we can to these with every level! So flexible!
        I LOVE that OWIs can take an entire class. Talk about freeing up our long nights of lesson planning!
        I edit a lot so that there isn’t 6 hours of film for teachers – no one would watch them, LOL!
        Thanks for sharing 🙂 🙂 🙂

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