The story uses relatively simple vocabulary and sets up the use of complex grammar. “Shelter the vocabulary, but not the grammar” as Susie Gross says. Here is what we have come up with so far (I can send the Spanish translation if you would like for people to use as an extended reading).
In an upper level class the students do a lot more speaking. When things go right, the ideas are popping up all over the room and the teacher tends to become more of a moderator than a storyteller. A switch from disseminator of knowledge to facilitator; a “guide at the side” versus the traditional “sage on the stage” – just as they have been telling us in multiple in-service trainings over the years in my school district.
This is particularly obvious in an upper level class – the teacher sets the stage, but the students tend to generate more ideas and twists in the story line than in lower level classes – this makes sense because they have more language to work with and have more tools with which to express themselves. There are more nuances and things can get livelier. I often find myself mainly asking questions and trying to understand how all of the different elements of the story tie together – reframing and re-wording it with slightly more complex expressions as the story progresses.
As with stories in level I and II, these upper level stories can quickly grow and become remarkably complex. We often have to abandon some good ideas, rabbit trails and sub plots in order to tie the entire narrative together into a meaningful whole. That is often the job of the teacher in this case – to keep on asking clarifying questions so that the overall story makes some sort of sense.
One thing I find fascinating is that the personalities and values of the students and teacher begin to emerge in the telling and re-telling of these tall tales in the upper levels. As we knead the dough of the class story together, some of our DNA rubs of off us and becomes part of the tale. In the most recent telling of the Mark and Kirsten story below, one might think that we are being cruel to the depressed. It may look like we are being elitist towards those that don’t go to college. Those elements may be there, but deeper themes develop as well: dealing with life’s disappointments, caring for the downtrodden, taking responsibility for our actions and our duty to develop our gifts and talents also emerge. The silliness of the lower level story is still there, but an organic thoughtfulness also sprouts when we bend our minds and tongues towards building a story together.
The Problem with CI
Jeffrey Sachs was asked what the difference between people in Norway and in the U.S. was. He responded that people in Norway are happy and