Running Dictation in Spanish class

Author – Allison Wienhold

Published March 26, 2018 & most recently updated on April 15, 2024.

Inside: Running Dictation in Spanish Class. Running Dictation is a fun game for any class that includes a lot of movement!
Running Dictation in Spanish class

Where did Running Dictation come from?

Running dictation has been around the language teaching classrooms for a while now. Martina Bex posted about Running dictation in 2011, citing she learned about it from Jason Fritze. I first learned about it from Martina and have been using it in class for the last few years now.

I have seen a lot of questions about how to implement it. Even though I have mentioned it in passing in many novel posts, I thought I would add more details for those of you who want to try it for the first time or are looking for a different variation.

I know there are MANY versions of how to do this activity. But this is the way that I have found it works best in my school and with my students. Always do what works best for YOU!


How to Prep for Running Dictation

  • Pick 8-10 sentences that retell your chapter or story. Make sure it is something students are familiar with and not completely new. I love to use the order of events from the novel Teacher’s Guides. 
  • Type them in large font, print, and cut them apart. (I do not number them, since I want students to figure out the order later. You could put one letter on each, that when put in order spells a secret message, like “PROBLEMAS”)
  • Tape them up spread out in a large space. I use my hallway and let teachers know they will be out and about that class period. I know other teachers go to the gym, commons or outside. If you can not leave your room, the sentences could be on one side of the room and everyone else on the other. 
  • Cut scratch paper into fours (enough for all groups to have 8-10). I use these for students to write, draw, and put in order. 

How to Play Running Dictation 

  • Divide students into groups of 3-4, with 3 being ideal. I like to assign these groups because you need at least one “leader” student in each group. This activity works best with mixed-ability groupings. 
  • In each group, let students decide who is A, B, C, or D (the optional member). Each group needs 10 1/4 sheets of paper & markers too. 
  • Explain the expectations & team roles. (My expectations are: stay in Spanish, no phones at any time, no writing in the hallway, only the current runner is in the hallway, and stay with and support your team). Once a group has all of the sentences written, there are extensions to complete as well. 

The Best Team Roles in Running Dictation

  • Corre (Runner – Go to sentence, memorize & retell)
  • B Escribe (Writer – Write down what the runner says)
  • C Dibuja (Artist – Draw a representation of a sentence)
  • D Edita* (Editor/Cheerleader- Check over work & encourage group – *Optional only if have 4)
  • Jobs rotate after each sentence – (A becomes B, B becomes C etc)
Running Dictation in Spanish class

Optional Extensions of Running Dictation

My main goal is for all groups to have their sentences written down with a picture. In regards to Differentiation, since I know some groups will finish faster, I have listed extensions that I want them to complete. Above is what I have posted during the activity. 

  • Put papers in order of book
  • Check order with other groups
  • Check spelling from the back of the book
  • Retell the story in Spanish to the group
  • Retell the story in English to the group

Post Running Dictation Discussion

Usually, once the last group has their sentences in order, I bring everyone together to discuss and correct them. I never grade these, but they are great practice for a small assessment that they may have before leaving or the next day. In my slideshow, I have them transition one by one, so we can have groups volunteer in the correct order and correct and discuss together. 


Running Dictation Variations from other teachers

Many of these are too much work for me with 4 preps. If you have more time and can focus on one class, these would be a way to mix it up. If you have others let me know and I will add them!
  • Have recorded sentences prepared with QR codes to scan. The runner listens instead of reading. (Idea c/o Stacey Wigant)
  • Have different sentences for each group on different pieces of paper. (This makes sure groups can not copy from each other)
  • Do the activity outside or in a gym like an actual relay race, running in lines back and forth. 
  • Post the sentences and pictures that groups create from the activity and use them later as a gallery walk. 

Most classes love this activity and the chance to move. The early morning classes sometimes complain to start, since they are not ready to wake up, but this is a nice way to force them all to engage. I had a formal observation during running dictation and my principal loved how everyone had a job. There was high engagement, extensions were provided and students used a variety of skills to complete the activities (reading, listening, writing, cooperative group work etc).

Like everything, you do not want it to get stale by doing an activity too much, so I usually only complete it once per novel, or about once per quarter. 

Do you use Running Dictation? Please share your version!

Running Dictation - Fun Activities in Spanish class blog from Mis Clases Locas


If you are looking for more ways to incorporate movement, check out 10 Ways to Get your Spanish class MOVING

Here are posts to specific novels that include a running dictation activity for a specific chapter


More Fun Games & Activities for Spanish Class


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