Wednesday, April 3, 2013

What do students do while you're telling a story

This post is to answer a very good question posed to me by a teacher.  "What do you do while listening to a story besides respond?"  Well, responding is the main thing, the most important thing, and sometimes the only thing that students are asked to do.  The key issue here is the term "listening".  Your students should not listen--they should participate.  Responding may seem to be old hat once you've done it a time or two, but it is an essential part of the process.  Responding holds them responsible.  It allows them to contribute.  It gives them the ability to be part of the story.

Now, I'm not sure whether you're talking about an oral or a written story.  I assume you're referring to a reading--a story that the students read instead of a story with actors--a written story.

When my class reads a story, I only enter in at the beginning.  I have a smartboard, so I have the story already written on the board.  The students follow along (watching the board) while I read the story for them in Spanish.  I always read to the period or comma, then I stop.  At the beginning of the year, I tell them that it's important to ask me for any words that they don't know, and I praise them when they do.  I then translate the word and write the English on top of the Spanish.  To me, this is the most important part, since it gives them immediate translation so they won't feel that they can't read the story.  At this point of the year, I just pause and they ask.  If nobody asks and I'm pretty sure they don't know a word, I ask what the word means.  If some know and some don't, I take a translation and write it.  Otherwise, I say it and write it.

After I have finished reading, the class reads together in groups of two.  One student reads in Spanish and the other translates.  They switch roles after every sentence.  1-L2, 2-L1, L2, 1-L1, L2 etc.  I then use either my victim cards or my seating chart to call on individual students to translate.  They do get a grade for this, although I stop doing that around this time of the year.  The grade is a participation grade.

When the students have translated the entire paragraph, you go back and ask the story just as you would have on a retell of any other story.  There are lots of things that you can do at this point:  t/f, fill in the blank, add to the story, do a comparison story, etc.  Once you finish this, I might ask someone to tell me one event from the story.  They can't start at the beginning.  Then I will ask someone else to tell me something that happened before that.  The next person will add something that happened in between the two events.  And so on.

In an oral story, the students have much more buy-in if you ask the story.  Don't start, there was a boy named Brian.  Start, there was a boy. what was his name?  Where did he live? Who was in his family? How big was his house?  etc.  These all give the kids buy-in.  Once you get to the tie-in, you can keep them alongside through circling and using the question words.

John knew how to speak Spanish.  Class, did John know how to speak Spanish?  Did John know how to speak Spanish or Greek?  Did John know how to speak Greek?  No, he knew how to speak Spanish.  How many years did it take for John to know how to speak Spanish?  How many years will it take for you to know how to speak Spanish.  Does John's dog know how to speak Spanish?  Who else in John's family knows how to speak Spanish?  John has a Greek girlfriend.  Next year, do you think that John will know how to speak Greek?  Why does John know how to speak Spanish when he has a Greek girlfriend, etc.

You can get lots of responses this way.  I think the major thing to remember is that the story is important, yes, but not nearly as important as getting reps of the words.  You can veer away from the story and find yourself in a whole new story that is your students' creation.  That's true success.

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