This is by Tina:
You have told a story to the class as in Story Listening, or created a story with the class, or you have done a One Word Image with the class. Now you can extend that into creating a text with them and using that text for the Reading Options. Click here for Ben’s post on Reading Options.
So how to generate the text? You could use your prep period to do that, which is fine, and a pleasant use of your time, especially I am finding with the Invisibles because the stories are so fun and unique and often surprisingly rich in meaning. (Plus they are all different so no more writing four stories about the same structures with just the names changed for each class…snore…) But with NT stories, you will have a different story for each prep so it does get pretty time-consuming to write those up each day.
Anyway, wouldn’t you rather spend your prep getting coffee or checking Facebook or visiting with your colleagues? I mean, priorities, people! Seriously, relaxation and taking time for a few deep breaths and not taking work home is a huge priority, so that we can be more relaxed and present and “with it” when we have kids in front of us. I read an article (Link here) recently that said that teachers report the same level of stress as doctors and nurses. I have also recently become aware, through some health struggles of my own, of the detrimental effects stress has on our bodies. Since we kinda need our bodies to carry us into work each day, it is important to relax! It is FOR THE KIDS!
How, then, to get that class-created text without spending your precious free time on it? Why, write it with the kids of course.
Grant Boulanger taught me the term Language Experience Approach last year, and this is very similar. Here is an article on the approach.
Dr. Krashen has also written about the Language Experience Approach saying in this article that it “deserves another look”.
So, this is not only a way to work less (my mission in life), it also has pedagogical value as the kids co-construct a text with you.
To begin, you have the story writer’s notes beside you at the doc camera or the computer that you are projecting. I prefer writing by hand for this, because handwriting has an artisanal quality that is hard to come by in these computerized days. Waldorf education even has a teacher training manual called Soul Development through Handwriting! And in Montessori children learn and practice the cursive alphabet from a young age by tracing the sandpaper letters. I love writing by hand and even those with “bad” handwriting can use this as an excuse to practice. (Handwriting is not a fixed trait any more than not knowing how to ski or not knowing how to knit.)
You ask the kids to help you basically re-construct the story. I start by asking “Tale or Story”? I just kind of let them call out. Then I ask “The Tale (or Story) of Whom?” They call out the answer. “Jake the Marshmallow” or whatever. Sometimes that gets extended. “Jake the Fat Sad Marshmallow” could be a title.
I proceed through the story like that, basically asking the details again. “Where was Jake”? “Was Jake big or small? Oh, of course, class, it is obvious, he was fat.” “Was Jake blue or green?” This, to me, has the advantage of including the information that students found memorable, so that the class-created text reflects their interests. Details they do not remember or offer to me just fall by the wayside. Since I am no longer focused on teaching certain lexical items or morphological constructions, I care not what language is recycled to build this text. (If I was worried about the kids’ acquiring a certain element of the language, I would put that in myself, just to expose them to that lexical or grammatical information once more, but generally I am not thinking like that at all so I just write whatever they offer.)
I will sometimes “fancy up” the language they feed back to me. Like I will add new cool words or whatever pops into my mind. For example, “unfortunately” and “no one” and “in reality” and “the next day” and “whereas” and such. The kids like it. Makes everyone feel smart. And they really seem to remember these elements of the language, because they just popped up and fancied up their story right there before their very eyes. I keep this to a minimum, maybe two or three per text.
It is pretty simple, actually, like how any good CI strategy is. That is why I love this work so much, that and some inexplicable calling I feel for it. Laura Ingalls Wilder said, “I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.” CI feels real to me, and making these texts feels very cozy and artisanal and homespun and creative and free. I love it and in the best stretches of time in my classroom, we do this every other day – 50% of the time we spend together.
I did W n D a ton at the beginning of the year but with more SL these days I have fallen out of the habit. I want to get back to more stories with the Invisibles soon and do more W n D.
W and D was, in my mind, a critical stepping stone to SSR which started November 15 or so, at the start of Quarter Two. W n D and the Reading Options provided their first steps into L2 reading, comfortably, confidently, simply, and sweetly.
Here are a couple of videos.
In this one the W n D starts at 4 minutes in.
The next one has two parts.
Part one is reviewing the artists’ work to remember the story, prior to the W n D. I find that reviewing the artwork and then W n D is a nice 50-minute lesson plan.
Here is part two, the actual W n D.