ACTFL Takeaway – Ordering & Negotiating Activities

Posted by Kara Parker on November 28, 2016 in Conferences, Speaking, What's New

I love adding to my “adaptable activities” teacher toolbox! Tori Gilbert – @vgilbertTEACH – gave a simple activity idea that I can easily use in class for a variety of topics. Check it out!

First, here’s the session description –
Learn how everyday items (shopping bags, images, receipts, cultural artifacts, etc.) can spark interpersonal exchanges and negotiation among students of all different age levels and proficiencies. Activities for novices through advanced learners will be modeled and templates will be made available for participants to adapt to any language setting.
 Presented by Victoria Gilbert, Saint David’s School & Helena Curtain, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (Emerita)

A summary of how Tori uses the items –

  • Gather target language realia that can be put in an order or categories.
  • Give them to the students and let them talk out how to order them. “Put this here.” “Put that there.”
  • Higher level thinking, using simplified language!
  • Exposes them to real products, which leads to better understanding practices and perspectives.

That’s it! Here’s her llama example –


Photos from Tori Gilbert’s ACTFL presentation



Put the llamas in order using one of the categories below: Most hairy to Most hard / Most authentic to Most fake / Biggest to Smallest

I love the idea of letting students first think of how they would even categorize the llamas before the teacher tells them how to do it. And who doesn’t want to squeeze those llamas!

These examples are based on facts. So to get a little “debating” to happen, the next step can be opinion based. Which llama is the best gift for an 8 year old? For the school secretary? 

After a session presents a great idea, I need to process it out, preferably with others. So I found Dan Bouvier, MA and Yanay Mesa, KY to brainstorm how to apply this in lessons. Here’s a list of what we came up with combined with Victoria’s ideas –


Photo from Tori Gilbert’s ACTFL presentation

Students could try some drinks from other countries and put them in order. Or at least read the labels.


This reminds me of those Buzzfeed videos of Americans trying sodas from other countries (which are NOT class appropriate). Students could video their reactions, comments and then evaluation (the ordering activity) while they try them in small groups. I’m definitely going to add this ordering activity to my tasting station lesson!

For lessons about clothing, here are a few ideas –



Gather some luchador masks or soccer jerseys to do this before (let them predict) or after (check what they remember) they learn about the athletes –


I don’t suggest giving them the real thing for this next one! Just some pictures will do fine. While learning about parasites and/or diseases around the world, they can do this –


Other Thoughts –

I’m thinking this may work best as a station so I don’t have to buy multiples of these items. Or I could use pictures of the items if I’m in a pinch. Having the real item is definitely best, but at least the communicative part is there while I build my realia stash. Thanks Tori for sharing at ACTFL!

Keep adding to the collection here! What realia and “ordering activity” could you do about a topic?

8 comments for “ACTFL Takeaway – Ordering & Negotiating Activities”

  1. vgilbert2014 says:

    Happy to share the pdf and additional materials with anyone who would like them. Reach out to

    1. Kara Parker says:

      You rock! Thanks for sharing that! Looks like ACTFL has the handout issue fixed –

  2. Helena Curtain says:

    Kara thanks for this very helpful post! I will share your great ideas. I LOVE Tori’s idea of using realia for classifying and sequencing. I’m sorry we didn’t connect at ACTFL. I had planned to go to your session but then couldn’t make it in the end! Thank you for all you do and the “creative” ideas you and Megan share!

    1. Kara Parker says:

      Welcome! I love the fact that it gives me an excuse to buy more items (and save more “trash”) when I travel. 🙂 Plus it’s more than just something cute to put on a shelf. We will connect up soon!

  3. Cybil Federer says:

    I really like this idea. This reminds me of a similar activity that was presented at a conference once that I went to. Students divide into groups of two. One sits facing the board and the other is facing the opposite direction. The student facing the board sees a picture of a plate of food and describes the plate to the other student, who then draws out the plate. Then they switch places and do the same activity, except the second student will see a new plate of food. Once they finish, they can then decide on which plate is healthier, more delicious, better or worse, etc, and give a reason why. You can do this with other topics as well… clothing, sports, classes, etc.

    1. Kara Parker says:

      Thanks for sharing Cybil!

  4. Jessica Amburgey says:

    I love the llama task! I am thinking of how I could do this in a classroom of 30 kids though…

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