Description of Task - CoBaLTT Staff Colorings

The teacher asks (in Spanish) for a volunteer to locate Ecuador on the world map or globe. Another volunteer is asked to write "Ecuador" on the board. They review why Ecuador is called Ecuador and locate where the equator runs through the country. The teacher asks if anyone knows the name of the continent where Ecuador is located. Another volunteer writes "Sudamérica" on the board. Students are asked to predict what kind of climate they believe Ecuador has and why.

The teacher reviews (or introduces) the basic structures for describing weather temperatures and conditions - hace frío, hace calor, está húmedo, está seco.

The teacher shows the large map of Ecuador and asks the students if they can recall the names and locations of the four main regions of the country (La sierra, La costa, El Oriente, and Las Islas Galápagos). As students recall the regions, the teacher shows the name for each (written on a large card, like a flashcard). Each card can be attached to the map (velcro or some other material is placed on the card so that it can be attached to the map and removed easily). Student volunteers are asked to identify the regions of the country with their corresponding names. At the end of the activity, the four regions are labeled on the large map so that all students can see.

Task set-up:
The teacher divides the class into small cooperative groups with 4 students each. Each group is given a poster-board that has been divided into four equal sections and they are told that once they begin, they have 15 minutes to complete the task. Each group is also given a set of copies of pictures or postcards that can be attached to the poster-board. The pictures represent plants, animals, foods, and/or landscapes from the distinct regions. For example:

El Oriente: the jungle (rainforests), rivers, tropical fruits, colorful poisonous frogs
La Sierra: snow-capped mountains/volcanoes, llamas, hand-woven sweaters, ceramic bowls, cloud forests, Andean condor, paramo fox, and potatoes
Las Islas Galápagos: cactus, giant tortoise, iguanas, sharks, sea lions, blue-footed boobies, penguins, rocky shores

Ideally, each group is given a different set of pictures to expand the vocabulary base of the class (this may not be possible depending upon the pictures the teacher has available for the activity). Students are told that they are to work together as a group to place the pictures under the corresponding region. She may need to model this for the class by showing a picture and having the whole class offer ideas and opinions about which region such an animal/plant/place/person would likely be found.

Each group member is assigned one of the following roles, but all students are to participate in the group activity.

Recorder and Timekeeper - student writes the name of the each region in one of the four sections on the poster board. Student also keeps track of time so that the group completes the task in the allotted time
Task Facilitator - student keeps the group on task and makes sure that everyone gets a chance to share his/her opinions. In addition to expressing his/her own opinion, this student will need to practice basic questions (e.g.,¿Qué piensas? or ¿Qué crees? or ¿Qué opinas?).
Language Facilitator - student listens carefully to the language used by the group members and helps provide needed vocabulary by checking the board and reviewing structures.
Reporter - student reports back to the whole class and explains his/her group's poster. This student will need to practice the 1st person plural (e.g.,Creemos que... or Pensamos que...) and phrases with "because" (e.g.,porque hace calor).

The recorder writes the name of each regions in a section of the poster while the other students work together to think about possible categories for the pictures. The group works together to complete the task and the teacher circulates among the groups to check on their progress.

The teacher is also circulating to listen for use of the new vocabulary and expressions as well as to check for question formation and other expressions to be used during the activity.

The presenter for each group briefly explains why the group arranged the pictures in the way that they did. After the groups present, they compare the posters and look for similarities and differences. The teacher points out on the map particular geographic aspects of the various regions and helps students make the connections. The class discusses the groups' work, asks questions, offers suggestions for changing the location of the various pictures until they come to agreement. Throughout the discussion, the teacher encourages use of the new vocabulary and structures they have been practicing.

The teacher asks questions that help students begin to develop an awareness of the relationship between climatic and geographic conditions and how they influence what's available to particular cultures. For example, in the sierra it gets very cold so it makes sense that there will be llamas instead of iguanas and that people will cultivate potatoes instead of growing tropical fruit.

After the whole class discussion, groups are asked to return to their posters and make the necessary corrections. Students take turns to identify each picture by writing down the name of the object/animal/food it represents.

Completed posters are then displayed in the classroom or hallway.


Informal assessment occurs throughout the activities. The teacher may also decide to assess students' participation, understanding of content, and use of language more formally by creating a checklist and checking off students' names as she observes their participation.

For example: Needs improvement = - (minus)
Satisfactory work = (check)
Excellent/outstanding work = + (plus)

Name Participates actively Uses new vocabulary Uses new structures Notes