Story Listening – Super Example

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32 thoughts on “Story Listening – Super Example”

  1. The language Kathrin uses in these two clips builds, like night time snow, and then when we wake up we see a few feet of snow out the window. We didn’t watch each flake land, but land it did, in an army of other flakes, and that is how language builds. Literally while we sleep, after hearing tons of input that day, without us having to do any work. It’s so amazing and then we get in there and try to catch some of the snow and test some of it, certain flakes, and focus on some of them but not all of them, etc. What we do as language teachers is just….well….flakey. We teach from ego, while God gives language freely with both hands like He gives the snow. We slice and dice it. What Kathrin does in this lesson is really the Natural Approach. Just listen to the kids….listen to their joy. Kathrin you are to be congratulated.

    1. Thank you so much, Ben! This means a lot.

      I think it’s important to know that a 1/3 – 1/2 of the kids in all my classes do not comprehend “L1.” For them German is at least L3 or L4 realistically. And to them, this is the kindest teaching I can think of. I cannot wait to have Beniko here to learn more from her and extend the fire to others.

      (Oh and just as an FYI, there is only one URL posted, but no working link to the story you are referring, too.)

      1. Kathrin,
        I watched the “Schneeballschlacht (snowball fight)” today and just loved it. You are so spontaneous, good at acting and having fun yourself, no wonder this works beautifully for you. And it’s highly motivating!
        I have a few questions though:
        How large are your groups?
        How do you get them to be so disciplined in such a benevolent way? Of course they are laughing but I never heard anything disruptive!!! Because in my class one and two I fear some of the kids with behavioral problems might be all over the place and wouldn’t stop clowning about without me interrupting the flow of the story. But I WILL try out SL and none of my fears is going to stop me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        1. Thank you for your kind feedback, Udo!

          My group size varies from about 11- 24. The one on my website is a third grade beginner class with 12 kids, of which about half are English beginners as well. I did tell the story to my first graders as well and there are over 20, sitting on one carpet together. They are much louder in their reactions, but nothing disruptive either (The first “Bremer Stadtmusikanten” video on my website was the first story I told to my first graders, so you can see how they behaved when I tried it for the very first time).

          I talked to my classes briefly beforehand what my expectations are:
          – just listen to the overall story, it’s OK to not understand every word
          – in order to enjoy the story we want to not disrupt it with questions
          – watch and listen, all eyes and ears to me
          -enjoy yourself, you can laugh if it’s funny

          Not sure if I told them anything else. The beauty really is that a well-chosen story clears any behavioral issues right up. If they can comprehend the story and it is meaningful/compelling to them, they just want to listen. In “Schneeballschlacht,” which is a Robert Munsch story, I also replaced the names in the story with actual kids from the class. Kids that I knew would be OK with it – I bet you can think of a kid, who would love to throw snowballs at you ๐Ÿ˜‰ (exactly that kid that has behavioral things going on sometimes just needs some love) – which added extra investment for the little ones. I would highly recommend Robert Munsch’s stories for Elementary, because the main characters are Elementary school kids and they are really silly. A plus for you also is that you don’t have to translate them, as I had to do, they are in English already.

          With all my classes I never had to give more than a stern look or a quick hand gesture to stop any kind of interruption. I don’t know, SL is magic! Have fun with it, the kids will know and join in. I think a good story teller knows and reacts to the audience that is true for normal story telling as well as SL. The vibe in the classroom, their faces as you see some very strong and some more subtle reactions feeds your actions.

          I WISH I had taped the first grade with that story, they were CRACKING UP. Their faces showed so many emotions and they laughed really loud. It was amazing. Probably my favorite moment this year. And they just followed a whole 20 minutes in German, not even realizing that they did anything, but have a blast.

          1. Thanks so very much for the time you spend answering my questions and the heart-quality which goes into it.

        1. All my classes have 3x 60 minutes of German a week. I also did OWI, the Invisibles and TPR. With some classes I did some MovieTalk, with others I didn’t. I haven’t been in school since January and won’t be returning for, well probably until school year 2018/19. I was written out by the doctor, expanding my own audience for story telling at home. ๐Ÿ˜‰

          I miss telling stories though and I am going to do SL with a colleague/friend and some women she was in a German class with that they all found boring.

          1. Hope you will get your strength back soon. The kids will be missing you. You are doing a terrific job!

  2. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    Kathrin, and all,
    Armed with your videos and a more fully fleshed out conception of how to to SL in the elementary classroom, (last time I used the illustrations from a book – and I agree to Kathrin’s objections with that, so) I grabbed a puppet and did “The 3 Billy Goats Gruff,” in both 4th and 1st grade classrooms today. They were rapt, even though I’d say 90% of the kids were familiar with the story. Other than the puppet and some Shrek ears for the troll, the other visuals were all drawn on the board. I would say that the difference between what I see Tina/you do and what I did was negligible – mostly my ‘script’ was much narrower and I intentionally chose a cyclical repetititive story.
    I could immediately see the power of the uninterrupted flow – with no expectation of ‘circus seal’ oohing, ahhing and rejoinders, or answering a zillion questions. The shear quantity of language input multiplies without all of that! I had the distinct impression that the kids were delighted by their own comprehension – the way I am when I get the gist of one of Tina’s French stories, or one of your German ones!
    I am going to be experimenting more with this all spring long. I haven’t looked at all your videos yet. Do you have a video of reading with your kids? Do you do something similar to Tina – write up the story in real time?

    1. When I saw that you had looked at what Kathrin did, Alisa, I was very happy. You see things through very clear lenses, and your comments above are heartening and I am sure Beniko will be very happy to read them as well. I just think that the way Kathrin and Tina on these videos are able to go substantially faster and still be understood (the message, the raw CI of it) in a way that does not reflect the laborious ideas of TPRS, is important for us to look at. We don’t have to agree w SL, but we need to give it a good look before tossing it. You can always be counted on to give something a fair test drive and I knew you would say those things once you tried it.

    2. Yay, so happy to hear that you were so successful with your classes! Wonderful!
      The reading Tina generates are only form the OWIs and Invisibles. Right, Tina? Please correct me if I am wrong. I don’t generate readings from SL. I have read the stories to them as they marked with a highlighter on their copy what they understood, but that’s all. Mostly it’s just the listening to the story and then either draw a picture or write summary in L1 of what happened in the story. The little ones sometimes just copied pictures with words from the board to show at home what they did. I think it’s a good practice to take those simpler versions of the story and add them to the class library. Beniko said the reading should be i-1 in the beginning. Something I often had to remind myself of and had to change the stories to AFTER I told them, because what I told was almost always a little simpler than what I wrote. You make so many quick adjustments when you tell the story that you really notice that your reading needs to be simplified. I always pre-wrote my stories in the simpler version, but didn’t use the notes that much. It’s more a way for me to familiarize myself with the story and, as a native speaker, to not use too much language.

      1. I have not yet done readings for SL but since I have a chiro appointment this morning I will send in a reading of the Gigante Egoรญsta that I did yesterday. Strange that you mention it!
        Here it is.

        ๐Ÿ˜€ I have done tons of readings with the Invisibles and OWIs this year.
        I was so happy yesterday that seventh period came in begging for a story with the Invisibles. It cheered me up immensely and was so cute! Two pickles and bowties…whats not to love! I will be back for that class and we will write it up together.

  3. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    OK so today I continued on with more groups telling that same Billy Goats Gruff story. We may act it out or draw a picture of a troll or goat. I happen to have a very short/easy reading version on the story, so perhaps I’ll have the older Ss read it.
    Kathrin can you pls re-state what other extensions you might do with a story that you tell? Which extensions for the youngest (emerging literate) and which for the say middle elementary – 3-4th graders?
    My big take-away again is the more copious and continuous input – more sounds and meaning washing over them.

    1. Hi Alisa,

      I’m just back from vacation… I don’t really do extension activities from the stories. SL is a core method and the goal is to tell as many stories as possible to get to story-reading and FVR eventually. The drawing/ summary afterwards are a quick way to check for comprehension. I do songs and games with the little ones, but they are not based on the story. I also do lots of TPR and some MovieTalk. Anything to get them moving and interested. My older ES kids love TPR in groups (I call them Gummibaerchen, Marzipan and Schokolade). The weirder, the better. Ben’s director’s cue list is great for this!

      1. to think of it.. ALL my classes love that kind of stuff. It’s low pressure in groups, no one is singled out and they get to move around. Controlled craziness! Oh and I have done some Yoga in class and that’s always fun, too. Especially with the animal positions and the sounds that go with them. I repeat a similar sequence over weeks as a relaxation element. Even the first graders love it and you get the occasional Yogi, which is super cute. There are Yoga books for kids, too. They have stories with the positions that can be modified.

  4. …my big take-away again is the more copious and continuous input โ€“ more sounds and meaning washing over them….

    And, as I am beginning to see, washing THROUGH them into the unconscious. It may seem to some of those who have been reading here for all the years that that is all I say, about the unconscious. That is because in my opinion it is all about the unconscious, but we act like it’s only kind of about the unconscious. The research is so specific on this point and we seem to give it mere lip service. We like to think we do the work. We drive delivery trucks. That is all we do. We work in the service of something far greater than ourselves.

  5. Thanks Kathrin for paving the way for us here. It is all quite impressive what you do. Someone might say, “You’re just telling a story to the kids.” But there is so much involved as the back-story to this one classroom experience of building trust and community and kindness and playfulness. On top of all that, you are a professional dry erase board drawing artist! I definitely need to work on my drawing skills.

    The closest I’ve gone to unfettered Story Listening is having students spend 5+ minutes at the beginning of the class to write about something that happened to them over the weekend. I chose, I think it was, 4 stories total in the class period. Some were like 2 minutes long. One went on for probably 7 minutes. It was about a student that was approached by a stranger in Starbucks for a cup of coffee.

    It went okay. I’m learning.

    Now I need to think of a good story to tell, something with cyclically repetitive as Alisa said.

    1. โ€œYouโ€™re just telling a story to the kids.โ€

      Hi, Sean. You boiled down to its essence a lot of the CI opposition. Pure reductionism. TPRS is just making stories or reading them. Movie Talk is just doing more stories. Songs are just stories. Embedded readings are just stories. SL is just telling stories.

      Anyone who teaches us to be better communicators will encourage us to tell stories and to learn to tell better stories and to tell stories better. (Talking in statistics, formulas, paradigms and grocery lists just don’t hold the interest for most of us.)

      Beniko describes three stages in SL. At first, the meaning of the story is enhanced and clarified by gestures, drawing, and translations. As students get better at story listening there are less supports. Then, when the students are ready for the third stage, it is just pure story. (It is sort of like moving from picture books to illustrated chapter books to novels without pictures.) So in the end, one is, in fact, “just telling a story.” But instead of being a reductionist comment, the student and teacher have arrived at the epitome where students hear stories much as they do in L1.

      I am hoping to find that “just telling a story” will be sufficient for massive delivery of CCI (comprehensible and compelling input). I am not there yet, but Beniko is igniting a fire.

      1. Very helpful, Nathaniel. And I appreciate how we have to train students before they are ready for the third stage of Story Listening.

        Is Dr. Mason’s book out yet? If so, do you know where one can buy it?

        1. Its’ not out yet, Sean, there have been delays, but I am trying to get Tina to write it up. It’s simple. Just pick a story (recommended are deep, rich stories from the culture being studied), simplify it, know it, and tell it, with illustrations and emotion. The kids will track it at a very deep level without needing to know every word. The research is solid on it, Beniko has demonstrated that over many years. Really simple. So simple it doesn’t fit in with our view of what teaching is. The stories reach deep into archetypal levels. This brings the interest. It’s bedtime story time or Kindergarten day. Beniko told me she would do it half the time in her program. Alisa wrote about it eloquently today in a comment that I made into a post.

    1. I can’t help but think of The Little Engine That Could, perhaps because it’s one of the very few stories that my little 2 year old son is interested in having me read over and over again. But, I teach high schoolers. I think I’m going to need a story with romance and death.

      1. You can start the year off with something short and sweet like the one you mentioned Sean. This can prime them and then you increase the length of the story. After they will be able handle 30 minutes easy.

      2. I agree with starting with something short, however when I started I completely underestimated how long the story would take and it took almost 40 minutes spread out over two classes. I wouldn’t do that again, but I also wouldn’t call it a fail. My 1st!! graders were attentive listeners during it. So I think much more important than the time frame of the story is picking THE RIGHT story.

        Fairy tales are so great because the kids now them, but don’t know them. So many are only familiar with the sweet as sugar Disney versions…

  6. So many paradoxes to this work. I just spent all day Friday with Tina in Ann Arbor at a SL workshop, and then we each presented on different stuff at the Mitten Conf. Tina presented in depth on OWI to story and on SL there, as well!

    Back to the paradoxes. The more you listen to SL stories, the more used to not comprehending each word, but getting the big ideas. Tolerance for the noise builds but at the same time, each exposure to the perhaps yet un-acquired parts of the message adds a facet of understanding to it. I could feel that I couldn’t and wasnt attending to the non-essentials so wrapped up in comprehending the story. I think it makes the students feel smart and successful right away!!

    With every compelling, contextualized exposure, you eke out a bit more comprehension of the parts that make the message. I could feel this happening during the Rumpelstiltskin SL in German, as well as all the French stories n work I did w/Tina.
    I could feel my teacher unlearning happening like the peeling of an onion. I felt a blast of cortisol when I didn’t understand a certain word, or when it wasn’t written down on the board, but then I let go when it came back around with a gesture or drawing… until I was fully immersed in the sounds and meaning. By the end of the w/e I think the cortisol jolt trickled off…

    Dr. Ks message of ‘the illusion of transparency’ flashed through my brain as the weekend unfolded. my ‘transformation toward’ NT is progressing; I will provide richer language and a wider net with less stress and less labor-intensive management by (comprehensibly) telling more and asking less. I agree that we are onto something BIG. Though I know it’s not necessarily new in the sense that NT isn’t new, the classroom rollout is definitely different than how I was trained up til now. But it makes a lot more sense, esp for an elem teacher with so many levels and classes…we really are more language parent/storytellers than teachers, which, in this day and age, is really saying something optimistic and encouraging!

    1. Thanks so much for sharing, Alisa!!! You made my day!

      It’ so great to have you and all the others in this community to “talk to” about one of the most important things in our lives: The kids and, I believe, enriching their lives by inviting them to acquire other languages in a happy and light-hearted way.

  7. Larry Hendricks

    Hello, Kathrin. I just watched your video of the “Super Example” of the snowball fight. I’m starting a course on conversational Spanish next month, I’m going to begin with SL.

    I noticed a few times you wrote the English translation of a few German words on the whiteboard. Then you erased the English one. Is that standard practice in SL? Giving them the English (L1) translation briefly, and then erasing it? I’m just wondering.

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