Photo Reader’s Theater – A Fun Online Teaching Activity!



Cynthia Hitz

(Originally posted on Cindy’s blog)

Teachers, how’s that online instruction coming along?…

Do you wake up with that same excitement for teaching that you did before Covid-19 took over our lives, and the news, and the supermarkets, and … our classrooms? Or, if you’re like me, is the task of trying to provide the best educational experience for your students in a completely different format starting to wear you down and squeeze some of the joy out of teaching.

If so…READ ON!

The time is ripe for a fun activity that will allow your students to show their creativity and enjoy their classmates’ creativity. I have an idea on how to make that happen for your students! (And if you keep reading, you’ll see how Fluency Matters is REALLY going to make this fun for all of us!)

This week my daughter, (in-law…but she’s way too precious to officially add that to her name), who, by the way, is the most amazing elementary art teacher that exists, shared pictures of an art assignment on Facebook that she made for her students. When I saw the pictures I immediately started thinking about how I could use this with my students. 

Blog 4 16 Image 1

[Cindy’s daughter in-law’s class assignment]

For the assignment, her students need to find a famous artwork, or one that they like, and recreate it in photo form using the materials they have at home.

Currently my Spanish 4 and 5 students are reading a book as an ecourse on Fluency Matters’ website. They are reading Bananas, written by Carrie Toth. I grabbed my hard copy of the book and paged through it, looking at the illustrations and BINGO!…the idea of Distance Learning Photo Reader’s Theater started to formulate in my mind.

What is Distance Learning Photo Reader’s Theater? Whatever book you are reading with your students, ask them to recreate one of the illustrations that are in the book. I was careful to instruct them NOT to ask their friends to help, but they could have family members join in.

(Reminder: Don’t post the illustrations from the book unless you have written expressed consent from Fluency Matters! I checked with Fluency Matters before publishing this post on my blog to make sure I could use the illustrations.)

Blog 4 16 Image 5 Bananas

Blog 4 16 Image 3 Bananas

The photos are rolling in and, I have to say, this is making my day! I love that the students have the chance to do something super easy, creative and FUN related to the text. This is exactly what both they and I needed after 3 1/2 weeks of online teaching.

My Spanish 1 students are starting Fluency Matters’ ecourse Brandon Brown quiere un perro today. That book has loads of illustrations that will be a snap for students to replicate. Students love sharing pictures of their pets and this will give them that opportunity. If they don’t have a dog, they use what they have available – a cat, a turtle, a stuffed animal – all of them are possibilities!  

If you live in an urban area, tell the students the pictures do NOT have to be outside. For example, they could replicate the illustrations from Bananas INSIDE their homes and it gives the parents a chance to get involved in the assignment too. If they don’t have a younger sibling for the picture, use a teddy bear!

There are several ways the teacher can then use the photos after they receive them. (But remember: You have to get parental permission to share the photos online!)

1) Share them in your Learning Management System and let the students SIMPLY ENJOY the photos of their classmates!

As far as I’m concerned, that’s as far as you need to go, but…if you want other ideas or your administration will want more than that, you could…

2) Put the photos on Google Slides or PowerPoint and during a live online class using Zoom or something similar, use the photos to retell parts of the story and provide additional comprehensible input about the story.

3) Make a matching activity with the student photos and sentences from the book or sentences that you create.

4) Upload the photos to Kahoot and use them during a live session on Zoom. For example, the Kahoot page will show a photo and you can have the students choose which answer…

– correctly describes the photo

– is the only sentences that does NOT describe the photo

– is the thoughts of one of the characters

– is an event that happened immediately before or after the photo

You don’t have to limit the student created photos to the illustrations in the book. You could direct students to the page number of one of the illustrations and ask students to create a photo of an event that happened after that illustration; or give them a chapter and ask them to create their own photo.

The goal is to give your students the freedom to be creative and share that with your classmates. It will be a fun assignment for them and they will appreciate it. Some…may even thank you.


Cynthia Hitz has been teaching Spanish since 2000 and is currently teaching at Palmyra Area High School, Palmyra, Pennsylvania. She has a B.A. in Spanish and a M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction. She has presented at state and national conferences on teaching with CI and TPRS in high school levels 1-4. In 2011, she was instrumental in converting her school’s World Language Department into a department that teaches with TPRS/CI. Cindy is also a contributing author to many Fluency Matters Teacher’s Guides! Follow Cindy on Twitter @sonrisadelcampo

When we saw Cindy’s student photos, we immediately started thinking about how we could use this awesome activity with YOU!

Cindy and her daughter(-in-law) inspired us to create a Book Giveaway!

Read on if you want to have some fun and get a chance to win FREE BOOKS…

Giveaway dog 1

Would you like to have some fun and enter to win 3 free Comprehension-Based™ Readers from Fluency Matters? We are inviting you to submit an “Art Imitators Photo”! Here’s how:

  1. Re-create one illustration found in the Instagram post from a Fluency Matters Comprehension-Based™ Reader in photographic form.
  2. Post your photo on Instagram  with two hashtags: #FMArtImitators #FluencyMatters
  3. If you are not following Fluency Matters on Instagram, you must follow @FluencyMatters (on Instagram) to be eligible for entry into the Giveaway.
  4. Like the Fluency Matters Giveaway image/post.
  5. Entries must be received by Thursday, April 30, 2020 by 11:59 P.M. (MST), and the winners will receive their choice of 3 Fluency Matters Comprehension-based™ Readers.
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