How Should I Teach School Vocabulary?


Stuck where some genius has decided that low-frequency vocabulary such as “pen” and “taking notes” is important? Have you been ordered to ensure that students have “proficiency” in listing things they Absolutely Need For School?

Stress no more: the easy story script for this is here.  This was developed with the help of Nicole Kunkel and Donna Yakubowski, and taken for a spin with French 2s in 2015.  Yes, we used prsent, passe compose and imparfait when we asked it.  Feel free to steal this.  I’ll type it in English.  If we have Spanish, French etc teachers, maybe you guys could write it up in those languages and post it in the comments. Students must be familiar with the Super 7 verbs.

This is an outline: the fun is in the details and what you end up with hopefully won’t look exactly like this.


— a backpack with some random weird non-school stuff in it
— a student actor to be a student
— another actor to be the teacher


— got annoyed/was annoyed
— had forgotten (yes, this is the pluperfect tense)
— “Have you forgotten/did you forget _____?” — “Yes, I have forgotten/forgot ___.”
— arrived late
— some words for school materials and/or classes


SCRIPT (blanks, and words in italics are variables– let the class develop these)

There was a boy named Mandeep.  He was _____,had _____, was from ____, wanted _____ (develop character).

One day, Mandeep arrived at school late. He went to his _____ class.  When he arrived, the teacher Mr Smith was/got annoyed.

T: Mandeep!  You are late to ____ class. I am annoyed!
S: Sorry for being late.
T: Mandeep!  Why are you late?
S: Sorry sir, I was ______. (develop)

T: Mandeep! Do you have your (school item)?
[actor looks in his backpack and pulls out a (ridiculous non-school item)]
S: Sorry, I don’t have my ______.

Mandeep had forgotten his _____!
T: Did you forget/have you forgotten your _____?
S: Sorry sir, I forgot/have forgotten my _____. (you could develop this)

[We repeat this a few times.  We can also add other teachers, classes and rooms.  We can also use ourselves as the/one teacher, but it is super-fun to have a student imitate us.]

The next day, Mandeep arrived on time in class.  But there was a problem: Mr Smith was not in class.  He was late! [actor sits behind teacher’s desk]  Mr Smith arrived late.

S: Mr Smith, you are late!
T: Yes I am late. Sorry.
S: Where were you?
T: I was in ______ (develop)

S: Mr Smith, do you have a (school item)?
T: No, I have forgotten/forgot ____

Mandeep was/got annoyed, because Mr Smith had forgotten his ______.


For this, we have a student write up what happened in class, and we can add a twist ending, eg student sends teacher to office to see principal, principal forgets things, etc.


Stuffies Monday Story

So I have Spanish 1s and today, Monday, Briana brought our stuffy dog 22 Savage and our monkey Dexter back from their wild weekend.  She sent us five photos which told 22 and Dex’s weekend story.

Here are the photos, and some of what I said about them.  This is early days so I have to keep it very simple.  If you want to do this, it is easy:

  1. Send a stuffie or two home on Friday with a kid.
  2. The kid takes 4-8 photos of the stuffie (and him/herself) which tell a story.
  3. They send you the photos Sunday eve.
  4. You project them in class, and you make statements about them that tell a story.
  5. I use wacky voices to add dialogue.
  6. I ask a few comp questions along the way.

1.  The letter.


22 Savage was at home. A letter arrived.  When the letter arrived, 22 was happy.  He was happy because he had an invitation!

2. The invitation.


22 said to Dex: We have an invitation!
Dex answered: We have an invitation?  To what?
22 said: We have an invitation to a party!
Dex said: I like parties.
22 said: I like parties too!

22 and Dex went to the party in Dex’s purple limousine.

3. Drinking Coke

When they arrived at the party, there was Coke.  Dex and 22 were happy because there was Coke.  Dex likes Coke. 22 also likes Coke.  Dex drank 3 Cokes, and 22 also drank 3 Cokes.  They were happy because they both like Coke.

Dex said: I like dancing.  I want to dance,
22 said: I also like dancing. I also want to dance.
Dex said: There are beautiful girls dancing
22 said: I like dancing with beautiful girls.

4.  Dancing with the girls.


Dex and 22 went to dance.  The girls danced.  Dex and 22 danced.  Dancing was fun. Dex and 22 danced with the beautiful girls.
Briana said: Dex is handsome!
Eisha said: 22 is also very handsome!
22 said: Dex, do you like Briana?
Dex said: Yes, I like Briana.  Do you like Eisha?
22 said: Yes I like Eisha.

5. Getting tired!


Dex and 22 danced a lot.  They enjoyed dancing.  They danced a lot and they were tired.  Oh no! Dex and 22 fell asleep!  They did not fall asleep in the house– they fell asleep outside! Briana saw them outside.  Briana was sad because they fell asleep. Briana wanted to dance with Dex more!


Scooby Doo, DeadPool y el Bikini Pequeño

So today I was going to continue asking my road trip to Coachella story…but as Mike Coxon says, it’s when I’m not doing what I planned that I get the most done.  I was doing some PQA and I asked Amneet what she did last night.  When she said “nothing,” I said “where did you go?  California?” and she said “yes, to Beverly Hills.” I then asked “who did you see there?” and she said “Scooby Doo.”

When I asked her what he was doing, another kid said “buying a bikini!” and we were off.  Here is what we came up with.  I’m interrogating the actors in present tense and past tense.  We use unsheltered grammar.  I didn’t actually have a bikini to use.  The _____ indicate where we created details.

BTW Deadpool (the film) is simply brilliant and the character is great for stories as he doesn’t take himself very seriously.

Scooby Doo Y El Bikini Pequeño

  • quería impresionar
  • no le gustó
  • se puso


Scooby Doo es un perro famoso que vivía en Hollywood.  ________

A Scooby Doo, le gustaba una chica famosa que se llamaba Jennifer Lawrence. _______  Quería impresionar a ella.

Scooby fue a La Vie En Rose y compró un bikini azul para Jennifer.  Costó 10 Scooby Doo Snacks. Fue a la casa de Jennifer __________.  Jennifer vivia con su novio ___ que era muy serio _____.

Tocó en la puerta.  Jennifer abrió la puerta.


— Hola.  Quiero hablar contigo.  ¿Quieres un bikini?

— Quién eres?  ¡Eres loco!  No quiero hablar contigo.

El novio serio de J.L. dijo

— Mi novia no quiere hablar contigo.


Jenifer se puso furiosa con Scooby.  Scooby Doo se puso muy triste, porque a Jennifer no le gustó el bikini, y él quería impresionar a la chica.

De repente, Scooby vió a Deadpool  _______________ y fue hacía él.

–¿Cómo estás?

— No estoy feliz.  No tengo un bikini.

— ¿Por qué quieres un bikini?  ¿Es para tu novia?

— ¡No!  Es para mí.

— ¿Cómo?  ¡Tú no eres una chica!

— Soy Deadpool.  Soy loco.  Me gusta llevar los bikinis.

— Tengo un bikini extra.  Quería impresionar a Jennifer Lawrence.  Pero a ella no le gustó el bikini.


Scooby le dió el bikini a Deadpool.  Deadpool se puso el bikini.


— ¿Te gusta este bikini?

— Sí, me gusta mucho.  Voy a impresionar a mi novia.


De repente, entró la novia de Deadpool, Vanessa.  ___________.  Ella se puso muy feliz y se rió mucho cuando vio a Deadpool.


Deadpool le dijo:                              ¿Te impresiona mi nuevo bikini?

Vanessa le contestó:                      Sí, me impresiona mucho.  ¡Tú eres muy cómico!

Deadpool:                                           Y tú eres muy guapa.  ¡Te amo!


¡Vanessa se puso tan feliz que llamó a su amiga Jennifer Lawrence! J.L. se puso muy celosa, porque Vanessa tenía un novio muy comico.

Trump in the Closet

So today we started Level 2 with the usual:  weather, date, what did you do last night? etc.  During a bit of PQA I asked one kid if he had a girlfriend.  When he said no, and I asked why, his friend said “because he has lice” and they both giggled.  And…we were off and running.  What follows is a totally improvised, on the spot, story.  THIS is why I love love love T.P.R.S..  As Mike Coxon said, “when I get off-track, I get the most done.”

  • piojos lice (although we could have started with any living thing)
  • quería besar a wanted to kiss
  • estaba solitario was lonely
  • tenía tantos ____ como ___ had as many ___ as ___
  • estaba tan ___ como ___ was/felt as ____ as ___

Señor Stolz and Animalak had lice.  So did Dhaniyal.  Dhaniyal’s lice were few and blue.  Animalak’s lice were red and small. Dhaniyal had as many lice as Animalak. Señor Stolz’s lice were huge and yellow.

Animalak’s lice were lonely.  They wanted to kiss someone.  There was no-one to kiss!  They were very sad.

Sr Stolz:  Louse, are you happy?

Louse: No, I am not happy.

Sr Stolz:  What do you want?

Louse:  I want to kiss a pretty girl!

Sr Stolz: Are there girls in Animalak’s hair?

Louse: No, there are no girls in Animalak’s hair.

Sr Stolz also had lice.  Sr Stolz lived in the closet with Donald Trump.  Sr Stolz did not like Donald Trump, because Donald Trump was racist and an idiot.  Donald Trump had magnificent hair.  Sr Stolz was as lonely as his lice.

Donald Trump:  I’m an idiot.  Do you want to kiss someone?

Sr Stolz:  Yes, I want to kiss Sofia Vergara.

Donald Trump (to louse): I’m an idiot.  Who do you want to kiss?

Louse: I want to kiss a pretty girl.

There were no pretty girls in Sr Stolz’s closet.  Sofia Vergara also was not in Sr Stolz’s closet.  There were only ugly zombie women in Sr Stolz’s closet.

Sr Stolz and his lice left the closet and went to North Korea.  In North Korea there were as many pretty girls as lice.  The lice were very happy.  Sofia Vergara was in North Korea also.  But she did not want to kiss Sr Stolz.  She wanted to kiss Kim Jong Un.  K.J.U. was happy but Sr Stolz was very sad.  Sr Stolz went back to his closet.  Donald Trump was happy!