Before Staring the Activity:
Before going right into this, review the differences between “Ser” and “Estar”. Give examples on the board of how “Ser” would be used in describing people. Do the same with “Estar”. Make sure everyone is clear on this and that examples are written for everyone to see. Break your class up into groups of twos or threes. These groups will then decide on three or four famous people from history, or from modern day pop culture, that they want to talk about. Give the class about five minutes to decide on their famous people to describe. Let each group know that the rest of the class should not know who they have chosen. Other students will be guessing the identity of the mystery person described by listening to the clues read out loud. From my experience, most students don’t have a problem with this. For some reason they like keeping secrets from the rest of the class!
Incorporating the Verbs Ser and Estar in the Descriptions:
Once each group is happy with their selection of famous characters tell them to write out four sentences describing these people using the verb “Ser”. From the examples you wrote on the board, students will see that these sentences will involve stating where the person is from, what his physical characteristics are, their nationality and what his job is. To get everyone involved you can have one student draw the person being described, another person writing the sentences and yet another student looking up words in the book.
Now that the descriptive sentences are completed with the verb “Ser”, tell the class to do the same thing with the verb “Estar”. Again, from the examples you gave on the board students will see that for each character they will be providing information on the emotional state this person may be in now, where he is right now and what he may be doing at this exact moment (present progressive). For each character there are now eight or so sentences. Four include the verb “Ser” and four include the verb “Estar”.
Presentation/Getting Everyone Involved:
Select a group to present one of their characters. Have a student read a descriptive sentence with “Ser” and one with “Estar”. If nobody in the room has guessed who is being described have another student read the next two sentences. Make a rule that each group member has to read at least one sentence. If the class is really stumped have one student present the picture created during the sentence making time. If nothing else, this will get everyone’s attention! Each group will go through this process until all of the characters have been described.
Post Activity Strategies:
Let your students have fun with this. The class will get loud because people get excited when talking about famous characters and pop stars. As long as the entire class is listening intently to the Spanish sentences being read, they are getting great practice. In most cases this happens without them even knowing it! Use some of the sentences created by students in your warm up the next day. By completing this exercise you will find out who the students are interested in. Each day have the class describe these people using the target verbs. Good luck and have fun!