Season 3, Ep 5: Games & Movement with Sarah Breckley

Show notes for season 3 are written and compiled by Emily Loughlin

Welcome to Inspired Proficiency and thank you for joining us for episode 4 of season 3. Thank you to our presenting sponsor Wayside Publishing! As always, please tweet any takeaways and inspirations to #inspiredproficiency.

Download the episode here: or listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts here or find it wherever you listen to podcasts!

Ashley is offering workshops this summer from August 14-16, 2019. You can find more information here on her website, You can visit for one day or all 3 to see her PD highlights. Games, team challenges, improv, feedback, and portfolios are just some of the many topics that will be covered. The cost is $375 for all 3 days or you can pick and choose days for $150 a day. She offers scholarships and group discounts. Her next visitation day is in September 2019. She would also LOVE to consult with you and your school and visit you and your department! Contact her to get some new ideas for PD this year and next year!

On this episode Ashley chats with the hilarious Sarah Breckley who lives and breathes adding fun and laughter to everyday teaching. Then Ashley herself walks us through a big reset she did with one of her classes that was struggling to not use English in class.


Sarah Breckley teaches Spanish 2 to high schoolers in rural Reedsburg, WI. You may know Sarah as Fiona from Señor Wooly’s video Feo. She travels wiSarah Bth her students and does homestays and does a lot of communicative activities in her classroom. She films a lot of her classes to share with other teachers on Youtube and Vlog. Sarah is a huge advocate for teachers to find the courage to post a video of yourself teaching and sharing videos of the amazing things we’re all doing in our classrooms. She wants us to know that she watched many videos of other educators before making her own so she may be a huge proponent of sharing your awesomeness in the classroom through video but she was not the first one to be so brave.

Sarah had A LOT of amazing information to share with us about movement and games.

WHY is it important to bring movement and games into classrooms everyday?

  • Language learning must be compelling. Games and getting up keeps language different so it’s fun so it increases motivation!
  • Learning becomes more meaningful and students are also encouraged to just be themselves. When they can be themselves they also develop self-esteem and a sense of belonging to lower the affective filter and make them much more comfortable in the learning environment.
  • Games give more opportunities for repetition in a fun way since repetition can be boring.
  • Games and movement help to develop social skills, relationships, and a concern of overall well-being for others.

What are some things that make this type of teaching hard?

  • If your classroom management isn’t strong then you need to work on that if you want to play more games so you don’t lose them.
  • You also want an adequate balance of appropriate modeling of language vs. inappropriate modeling.
  • Games can be a lot of language out of context so it helps to bring some stories and context to what they’re saying and listening to.
  • If the most entertaining teacher provides the most comprehensible input, you can’t do the same thing for 50 minutes away. You have to switch up what you’re doing and vary it to keep motivation and excitement in what you’re doing to keep kids in our elective courses. If they don’t want to be in our elective classes then they’re not taking ANY languages.


WalkChat – Basically we go on a walk around the school or outside & chat like we would in a MovieTalk or PictureTalk.

    • If possible, I do 2 walks a class to keep the group small. I leave 1 in the library for some FVR (Free Voluntary Reading).
    • I ask questions that take us to interesting places to chat.
      • Show me where you sit at lunch.
      • Who has a locker with something interesting inside?
      • Let’s go peek in the window of your favorite teacher.
      • Show me where you park your car.
      • Who plays a sport on this field?
      • Let’s find some shapes in the clouds.
    • When we get there, we might create a simple story, do a special person interview, or we do some kind of related TPR for the location.
      • What’s the process to walk through the lunch line?
    • Basically it’s a walking meeting.


Joker / Bromista from www.ultimatecampresource

    • We all form a circle in the middle of the room.
    • I select 1 person in the group to start as The Joker.
    • The rest of the group try to maintain complete seriousness.  
    • Jokers walk from student to student trying to make them laugh while speaking Spanish.
    • Once a student laughs, they stand up & join the jokers.
    • The game continues until there are only two students left.
    • TIPS
      • Beginners – provide 5 words/short phrases/rejoinders/chunks/starters in advance to assist them in staying in the target language
      • Advanced learners – let them freely speak with whatever language they are capable of.

Exercise (FOR REAL)

    • We exercise – & not like simulate exercise. Like it’s authentic & legit.
    • I tell them for tomorrow to wear workout clothes & we meet in the gym or in class with a projector.
    • There are lots of Spanish options, & I’m sure other languages can also find resources.
      • Dubbed Jillian Michaels & other YouTube video workouts.
      • There are lots of youTube Spanish – gymvirtual & more.
    • These aren’t all commands, in gym-virtual she uses a lot of 1st person, “I’m doing this, I need to breathe deep, & LET’S do this…”
    • Totally comprehensible and true TPRS (total physical response), also burns calories.

Alibi / coartada from

      • Students have to figure out who the criminals are by seeing who’s alibi changes.
      • I start with a super comprehensible story about a crime that has taken place, like someone stole something that’s always in my room. “Friends. Where is my coffee mug? It’s white, & is usually right here on my desk. I need it to drink my morning caffeine.”
      • Then I start blaming kids. “Do you have it? Who has it? Is it in your backpack? I know someone in this room has it.”
      • Since everyone is saying they don’t have it, they are going to have to tell it to the cops! It’s time for an interrogation.
      • So, for the language portion, we have to set them up for success. With beginners, I set them up with starters for alibis.
          • “I am _____” & they can describe what kind of person they are. “I’m a generous person. I wouldn’t steal!”
          • “I was in the____” – like, if they weren’t even in my room, how could they?
          • Or, “I was something-ing” – if they are already doing something else, they couldn’t have done it.
      • Advance learners can just have a couple of minutes to come up with whatever they want.
      • Also, they have to plan an action with their excuse. Kind people smile, & people who were reading the whole time hold a book & turn a page.
      • Then, we all form a standing circle in the middle of the room & face outward.
      • I walk the circle a few times & tap 2 or 3 criminals. No one knows who the criminals are. These kids need 2 alibis.
      • Everyone turns back around & I ask for 2 volunteers or victims to be a police officers to investigate. “Can you help my find my mug? You are the police. We need to check the student stories.”
      • They ask a question. For example, “did you steal the mug?” They have to ask every single person in the room, & try to remember what they say. Each person has to respond to the question with their alibi (ex. I was walking my dog, I was at the grocery store, I was watching a movie, etc.). The action will help them. Everyone’s watching to figure out who did it.
      • Afterwards, they ask once more to be sure the criminals can keep their facts straight. If their alibis change, they MUST be the criminals!
      • All give the same answer the second time, but the criminals give a different answer the 2nd round. It has to be really different than the first one.
      • It helps students a lot with doing actions, movement, creativity, repetition.
      • It makes it really fun to make it more personal for your and what is in your classroom.

Clapping/ Standing Ovations

  • Build that community!
  • Clap for everything. Stand up and clap. Standing ovations for everything.
  • Turn off the lights- clap!
  • Train them so they don’t clap forever.


Use storytelling & TPR (Total Physical Response) for everything

    • Language associated with movement will make the process of language acquisition easier.
    • For example, when we started our FVR program, I explained the steps first.
      • This row will get up first. Get up. Sit down.
      • Then you will search for your bookmark. 2nd hour bookmarks are red. Find something red. Who is wearing red?
      • Show me search. Sit down. Stand. search. You search.
    • Helps make the acquisition stronger and you could explain the entire process in Spanish.


Last minute tips

  • These all sound great but sometimes things can just fail and that’s ok.
  • Whatever you’re doing, set them up for success and give them what they need to do that. Don’t overwhelm them with tasks that are too hard that make them not want to participate.
  • Be comprehensible! If you are an expert at cognate finding, pantomiming, knowing their abilities, explain the instructions in the target language. If not, just get it over with in English & move on. No guilt. You’re just using your time wisely.
  • Games are a time to have fun, experiment, lower affective filter, let the kids go and experiment. Don’t correct them all the time so they don’t want to participate.


Ashley walks us through a reset with a struggling class this year. Ashley and the class had been struggling along all year and most of her regular techniques to help struggling classes had not been working. They stopped everything they were doing towards language acquisition and got together as a group to problem solve and get back on track.

The problem: Students would come in and not quite know what to do. They’re supposed to come in, stand in a circle, and we start chatting and moving into a game. They were not understanding this process and were still using English when they weren’t supposed to. They were not committed to all target language use. They would argue when they didn’t understand or weren’t being understood and wouldn’t take the time to stay in the TL and revert to English.

The solution process: Ashley spent a few days in English to figure out what students need to be more successful. She started with a survey for students to see what they needed from her, why they needed it, and how they could better work together. She asked some other really great other questions to get students thinking about why they were in Spanish class and why it was important to stay in Spanish in Spanish class. Her survey results can be found here. Students did a self assessment related to improving the classroom community. Then she showed a TED Talk about acquiring a language in six months. The class notes for the TED Talk and the worksheet students filled out. It got students thinking about learning and acquiring language and how she is their language parent to provide them the necessary input.

The proposed plan: Ashley went over the survey results and learned a lot from the perspective of her students about what they like and what they need. The students wanted more punishments (consequence ladder) for when English was used to help get English out of the classroom. Ashley proposed using more English at the beginning and end of class to ask questions and clarify information from class. The students still did not want that because they knew they needed Spanish to learn. They decided to change the beginning of class procedure to help separate from their friends to minimize English.

The final solution: If a student is speaking English accidentally, they get a warning and the other students would say Spanish or Silence in Spanish. Students also wanted that person’s name on the board to keep each other accountable. When there’s more English from that student, they get a checkmark next to their name and then the class says, in Spanish, Enough! Step 3 means you go to the take-a-break seat and fill out the take-a-break form from Developmental Designs. Anyone in class can initiate steps 1 and 2 to police the whole class but only Profe can initiate the remaining steps. Step 4 means a time in the hallway with a school wide reflection form and step 5 would be an office referral to the dean and they would contact home about classroom behavior issues. At the end all the students signed it to abide by the social contract they made together.

Why it was worth it!!!!!

  • Kids have not gone past step 3 in the consequence ladder!
  • The biggest English offenders stopped immediately and bought in.
  • The community has been much stronger.
  • Class overall has been much more successful.

If you want to do a reset, make it work for you and the students who are in front of you! Not every class and teacher are the same so this reset might not work for you but some of these elements might be essential in your own reset!

More Class Reset Resources:

Questions worksheet

Discussion with Students

Resources and links mentioned on the show:


Sarah Breckley on Twitter @SarahBreckley

Ashley Uyaguari on Twitter @profeashley

Other resources:

Episode sponsors:

1 thought on “Season 3, Ep 5: Games & Movement with Sarah Breckley

  1. Pingback: Brillante Viernes: April 12, 2019 – Maris Hawkins

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s