Classroom reality is that at least one student will be absent or in the office when I show a movie. The best way I’ve found to catch them up is this warm-up that I call “papelitos.”

I made a set of “cards” on Quizlet that had the major events that happened during the previous class. I also made a set of pictures to go with each event. I wrote them in the present tense for my level 1 students and in the past tense for my level 2. Then I mixed up the cards. This may sound silly, but just by adding a large colorful paper clip made them curious about the activity. I tried to mix up how I contained them each day (buckets, colorful baggies, chip clips, silly bands, etc.). Sometimes it’s the little details that matter.

They group up and put the cards in order based on what they watched the previous day. Absent students can still help with the language while learning what happened in the movie. I usually set a timer, and then show the answers (photos like this) on the board. It’s exciting to hear them figure out the new vocabulary. I repeat this activity each day after they watch a section of the movie. In the end, I mix them all up to “quiz” them about the plot of the movie. You can ask about the climax, the conflicts and resolution. Another ELA connection! (Opps! I misspelled Marcela’s name on the cards.)

Q&A with song lyrics
Recently I saw this blog post by Sharon Birch. She made it for song lyrics, but I think something similar can be done with a movie. Something new to try!

How can absent students catch up when they miss part of a movie?