MesaMima’s top 5 ways to do the Interpretive Task

MesaMima’s top 5 ways to do the Interpretive Task

March 29, 2019

...that aren’t the actual interpretive task

The Interpretive task is the primary way that we can present vocabulary in a natural context.  Each task is carefully constructed to guide students to deeper comprehension, while encouraging higher order thinking and interpretation of meaning and of cultural nuances. This can make it tricky for the teacher when assessing: it means for some questions not having a “right answer” but having a variety of interpretations that are all acceptable, some that you won't even have thought of!

As much as we love the interpretive task, we would hate for our students to complete so many that they are old news. Change is good, right?

We love to do a couple full, standard Interpretive tasks, like the majority that you will find in your thematic unit, but there are some great and easy ways to change up some or ALL of the task so they don't get bored with the routine.  Here are our top 5 ways to vary the interpretive task to keep them fresh:

  1. Kahoot / Quizziz / Socrative or other online quizzes:  Take the questions from the interpretive task and use them in an online game.  Same questions, different format! Frontload by working through the vocabulary as a class before signing in to the game to, then including the comprehension questions and some interpretive questions with possible answers.  That usually leaves one or two interpretive questions leftover that make for a great Think-Pair-Share, shoulder partner chat, or full class recap. Check out the games we have already created for you in our units!
  2. Get them moving! Sometimes the simplest changes yield big results, especially if it means burning some energy. Before class, place the words CIERTO on one sheet of paper and FALSO on another (or Si / No, Estoy de acuerdo / No estoy de acuerdo, etc) and place them on opposite sides of the classroom. Next, copy the questions for the interpretive task into a Powerpoint or Google slide deck.  Display the first question, have students move to the side that they agree with. This is especially fun with the interpretive questions, for which adding a statement will create a possible answer. NOTE:  This is a great option for longer tasks, more difficult tasks, or for the first task of a unit, as it limits verbal output that can be difficult at the beginning of a thematic unit.
  3. Insert Learning or Edji - These great sites allow your students to interact with the actual text (online) so not only is it paper free (Pachamama thanks you) but it's DIFFERENT.  Sometimes just changing the format is enough!
  4. All verbal, no written: Especially with shorter tasks, or simply to just not “take the magic” out of some videos or infographics, completing the interpretive task in a small group, verbal, think-pair-share style format. Things to remember: have the questions and words available -- for lots of kids, that’s the difference between confusion and comprehensibility. Sometimes for extra *fun* we give them what would be the vocabulary section with matching pictures or synonyms first.  Make it a contest...they will do anything for prizes.
  5. Divide and conquer:  Have students create a small group, then number them off to abandon their original group and complete a jigsaw, and they can incorporate some interpersonal skills at the same time. Any article can be divided into paragraphs, or infographics into sections.  The nice thing, is that this minimizes the work so you can focus on areas of need. For example, my students were writing painfully bad thesis (theses?), so the group who needed to work on that had the responsibility of creating an overall main idea or thesis that answered the essential question matching with the information. A group who stinks at figuring out what cognates are is in charge of essential vocabulary, so you can work with that small group to develop those skills. When they come back together, each person shares their information with the rest.  Follow up with interpretive questions or a Kahoot to see how well they “taught” each other!


Go Rogue:  You do you, boo.  Toss that task all together.  Start with some frontloading of vocabulary.  Then read through one part of a written text (first few sentences of an article, poem or story, one small part of an infographic, etc).  Ask some comprehension questions (you'll find them on the task), then give a few minutes of independent reading time. Students don't get enough of this.  Have them annotate, have them write one sentence about the main idea, have them mind map the text.  My students' favorite?  Writing on their desks with expo markers.  

EdPuzzle:  This video quiz creator makes creating an interpretive task a breeze for short videos.  Bonus: kids can stop the video and re-watch if they are unable to answer the question right away.  Extra bonus: view when students complete the assignment, how many times they watch the video, and a slew of other features that make grading quick and easy.

We have even more ways to create alternative interpretive tasks in our thematic units, but these should get you started!

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.