One of the foundations of teaching with TPRS or other CI-based methods is that students need to interact with comprehensible text in order to acquire new vocabulary and language structure. Most TPRS/CI teachers incorporate comprehensible novels into their classrooms, and often teachers also type up readings based on stories they co-create with their students in class. Sometimes, even after working with a story or reading a chapter in a novel, a teacher finds that they’d like to provide their students with a little bit more close-up interaction with the same or a similar text to reinforce the structures we are hoping students will acquire. The trick to doing these types of activities is making them FEEL new and novel! Here are a few ideas for getting your students to interact more closely with text in ways which are enjoyable.

Mad Libs style stories

Type up a class-created story or a story which is similar to something you have worked with as a class. Leave some blanks for details which are flexible, such as adjectives describing a character’s personality, a location, or an object. Have students fill in the missing details, either individually or in pairs. Encourage fun and creativity! To extend the activity further, students can illustrate their stories and share with their classmates! Here are some examples of Spanish Mad Libs created by Kristy Placido.


Textivate is an online platform for creating a variety of games and activities out of a single text. The teacher (or the students) type up a text, click the “textivate” button, and, like magic, several activities appear in front of your eyes! Some of the options include sequencing, fill in the blank, select the next word in the sentence, etc. You can also set up “sequences” which require your students to do certain activities in a certain order. Textivate is a paid service, but you can try it out for free by looking at public activities already created by other users. Here is an example of an activity created by Cynthia Hitz.

Word Chunk Game / Numbered Heads Together

This game has been around for a while and I originally learned about it from Keith Toda’s blog, but he credits Ben Slavic with the original idea for this game. This game is fun for a variety of reasons, but one of the reasons it works really well is that it is designed to exploit a sense of team camaraderie. A variation on this game that I enjoy playing with my students is called “Numbered Heads Together” which is a classic Kagan Strategy. For Numbered Heads Together, students sit in teams of 4. Each student has a small whiteboard and marker and each student is assigned a number from 1-4. I ask a question or show a question on the projection screen about a text we are working with. Every student in the class must write the answer on their board. They may confer with their teammates. At the end of the round, I tell all students of the same number to hold up their boards. For example, I may call for all the number 3 teammates to show their answer. Every team whose #3 person has it correct earns a point. For additional fun, allow each #3 a chance to shoot a basketball into the trash can (trashketball) to earn a bonus point.

What are some of YOUR favorite ways to increase student interaction and engagement with texts in your class? We’d love to continue the discussion with you! Connect with us on Facebook in our Fluency Matters Novels group, too!

Kristy Placido is the editor of CI Peek. She is the author of several novels for Spanish learners and presents workshops for teachers on teaching with comprehensible input. She has been using TPRS and comprehensible input approaches in her own classroom since 1998. Check out her blog at and follow her on twitter and facebook!

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