Stories Not Working – 2

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6 thoughts on “Stories Not Working – 2”

  1. I agree with your last paragraph wholeheartedly. I had the gumption to just jump into TPRS with a sink or swim mentality, but so many of my colleagues are afraid. They say they believe that grammar is not the way kids learn, but it’s easy to lesson plan around grammar. They are afraid of what will happen if the stories don’t work. They are worried about not covering the material and they are worried they don’t have the time or energy to put into learning the methodology. I do workshops in my district to show some of the tools and some are slowly making an effort. Of course I tell them, the water is fine, come on in, but most are still playing on the beach.

  2. For a while now, I have felt that training teachers on the three steps (PQA, Story, Reading) is not the way to go. It is simply too intimidating to ask teachers who have taught grammar for 10+ years to write a few structures on the board and start talking about the students and their lives. They run out of questions or bore the kids with circling. I’ve come to the conclusion that reading novels might be the best way to get started. It is safe. You can pull out the target structures from the text, start reading and discussing, and PQA along the way. When the discussion begins to fade, there is no need to panic…just keep reading! MovieTalk, then, might be a nice next step. When the discussion fades in this activity, keep playing the video. Throughout the process, teachers can practice all of the components of traditional TPRS without the pressure of ONLY story-asking (spin off to parallel story w/ reading or movie) and ONLY personalizing the whole thing. It’s much safer that way, and safety and comfort are very important. Very little LASTING change occurs as a result of scaring or intimidating those involved.

  3. Many of us forget that in the old days we had direct access in the summers to trainers like Susan Gross and Blaine whose training was all about the steps of TPRS (there were as many as ten steps or something like that at one point in 2002) and we went out and did it that next year because nothing else existed. Pobre Ana was about the only book out there, and it got boring after the third chapter. Stories were all we had and some of us kept our heads above water – luckily Susie was only 60 miles away and I saw her a lot and she used to come to my classroom. But many others just quit under the weight you describe, Scott. So your points above are well taken. I have always felt that we need to soften the blow of the Three Steps with alternative strategies, namely reading but also some of the simpler things like MT and OWI, and we need to tread lightly with the Three Steps with beginners, although, against all reason, there are people in this group who have become masters of the Three Steps without any summer trainings just on their own! That said, the Three Steps represent a higher caliber automobile than anything, but your message seems to be to new car drivers to avoid the challenges of driving a Corvette around the race track when still trying to learn how to drive their kiddie cars. I think it’s good advice. It’s a lot easier to make oneself comprehensible to a class of high school students when doing, for example, word associations, so that everything is totally in bounds, than trying to teach three structures, move into a story, and the do a reading from those two things. Again, we see that this work is a totally individual drawing of things that are out there into our own solar system of teaching in the way that suits us and our own personalities, and avoiding the crippling thought that there is only one way to do this work. We just keep experimenting. It is no job for people who are not willing to take risks.

  4. And don’t forget CWB! My classes have gotten better and better the more time I spend at the beginning of the year with CWB. The teacher who wrote in yesterday already had success with that activity at the start of the year. What if they spun out a new CWB structure? For classes who have advanced beyond “Me gusta/J’aime,” I’ve used “is afraid of” and “went last summer.” No reason you can’t break that out mid-year when regular stories get stale.

  5. Yes, thank you Erin. I think it safe to say that most teachers have not yet finished with all the students in CWB anyway. I have suggested that instead of forcing too much CWB on the kids in the first few weeks, and rushing through the very important process of personalizing the classroom, we leave it when it becomes stale and bring it out and dust it off every now and again with one student at a time throughout the year, to be thorough with it, and as a break from the other things we are doing. Be certain that if the year ends and you haven’t worked with every kid’s card, they will know it. They may not say it, but they won’t be happy.

  6. One of the activities that I did to help me lead to stories, which I still struggle with, is the 5 minute Power Verb Activity. I only need to stay with one verb and use it in every sentence for at least 5 minutes. Then I will add another verb structure and use it the same way to continue the story.
    Eric, thank you for sharing this idea. It made a great difference in my classes.

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