Animated GIFS

Los gatos quieren salir de la caja, pero no pueden salir.
Los gatos quieren salir de la caja, pero no pueden salir.

One of my colleagues and I offer lunch time tutorial sessions once a week for students who miss class. What a headache; three levels of students, all missing on different days… there is no hope of going over the actual lesson that they missed. We were looking for something simple & self-contained that we could do with a group of students that range from first to third year that would provide good CI.

At first I tried movie talks, but I found that without prior planning it was simply too incomprehensible for my first year students. Recently I have started our twenty minute session with a short interview of one of the students, usually a lower level student, and then in the last half of the session we movie talk an animated GIF or two. It is quick, repetitive and often at least momentarily compelling. It is also great for teaching students I do not know (i.e. my colleague´s students who wander into my tutorial session). Although what I really want is to get those kids to attend class everyday, I am happy to at least get them to make up some of the time lost hearing CI.

I made a downloadable zip file containing around 80 of the animated GIFS that I will be using… lots of cats, of course. I posted it to Google Drive. You should be able to download it by following this link . If that does not work then just google the phrase funny animated GIFS and you´ll find entire websites dedicated to them.


  1. What a great idea…both the tutorial sessions and the animated GIFs. When students are absent, do you require them to attend the next tutorial session as their make up work? Do they also do work specific to their classes (such as translate a reading you did that day, perhaps)?

    1. Funny thing about my school is that kids are pulled out of class often… feels like all of the time. I rarely havea class period when everyone is present. Part of this is officially sanctioned (back in my old school in MA sports were scheduled as after school activities whereas in my current school kids are sometimes pulled out as early as 11am), and part of it stems from the local culture. Teachers are required to supply an alternative activity, as if we were all just reading from textbooks all day. I require them to attend any lunch tutorial so that they at least hear the language, even though it is not specific to the class they missed. Any assignment that must be made up is posted on their online gradebook, but that is often a headache because each classes assignment often grows out of what we did together in class. Often I simply cannot recreate it, and it is not worth the trade-off of not preparing for classes. I have a separate section in the gradebook where I record a zero until they make it up. No student actually gets a zero unless they flat out refuse to make up their absence at a lunch tutorial.

      1. How do you balance your points so that the zero affects the grade yet doesn’t kill it completely?

      2. That is not the point… not attending has a ridiculous impact on their grade because I don´t want anyone to shrug and accept the points off. I tell parents that too: if a student is going to be absent a lot, or if they cannot come in during lunch, I want them to talk to me. Often times the student who does not come to lunch conversation group has decided that they would rather go on a field trip AND eat lunch with their friends rather than field trip and attending conversation group. Having a ridiculous impact on the grade makes not attending a non-option, and it makes students consider carefully their absences so that none are frivolous. They can be absent, but there is work to be made up. In reality, no sane individual would choose to be absent and not make up the work.

        Once work is made up the zero is erased. Last year I allowed students to attend the conversation groups before being absent so that they could plan ahead and their grade would never dip down. It was very successful and about a dozen students ended the year with anywhere from 3 to 15 extra lunch tutorials. Some kids attended whenever they did not have a club meeting, just because they like Spanish… that certainly lightened the mood of the group.

      3. Makes sense. I DO really want to communicate that being in class is important! Thank you for your response (and thank you for your blog in general!).

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