Report from the Field – Julia Lynch

Julia is doing the spring protocol that Tina and I describe in A Natural Approach to the Year. She’s working with the student storybook projects. Here is her report and, below it, the pages pasted in from the book that describe the details of how to do the project.
Hi Ben –
The kids are going absolutely bananas over the storybook project. There is 100% engagement, 100% enthusiasm. Lots of smiles and laughter and giddiness. One kid, who had a really hard time socially this year, couldn’t contain his laughter as he did his shareout of his story today. It reminded me what I heard once, that Kafka would go into hysterical laughter telling his own stories to his friends. Anyway, the kids are saying, “this is so fun,” “I want to be in this class” (rather than the grammar class), “this is my favorite thing we’ve done.” Some of the kids whose characters didn’t get picked are happy to be able to develop their stories. One mom relayed to me how much her daughter (who hated Spanish last year) is carrying on at home about her characters.
So! Big success so far! Thanks for your wisdom in sharing a great way to go out with positive vibes!!!

Also, when I asked her if I had permission to share this, she said:
Ben, please share! People have to know about this. It’s so important for kids and teachers to leave the year, feeling like they want to come back. Not even kidding, the kids are saying things like, “I can’t wait for Spanish tomorrow.”
Instructional Session 29 Children’s Book Projects
It’s time to have some fun with your classes! Time to let them take the lead and work to produce something of lasting value to your language program. The last few weeks of the year, we put students into partnerships (perhaps their reading partnerships) and have them work on a project. Their task is to make a children’s book, in L2, with illustrations and a glossary. We support them by editing their drafts, working with them in class. This ensures that the input our future students receive is accurate. Working with a partner helps them to be more creative, and helps them to feel more confident in their language abilities. It is also more fun to leave a legacy that you worked on with a friend. It is less intimidating, emotionally, to leave a book for next year’s classes, if you can share the “blame” with a friend.
Students enjoy the opportunity to show off their language skills, and it is a community service to the students next year, as they will be leaving them a collection of fun children’s books for the free-choice reading library. They also enjoy the chance to have a more relaxed few weeks, working mostly in L1, drawing and coloring, and being creative.
A sample of the handout that we give our students is provided at the end of this section and can also be accessed online at A rubric to score their projects is provided in Appendix C, Rubrics.
Student Instructions for Children’s Book Project
You and your partner will write, illustrate, and produce a storybook to put in our classroom library.
1. Monday, May 15: Have your story written in rough draft form, in pen or pencil in your rough draft
packet. You can choose a story we have created in class or make up your own. If you are doing a class story please see me because we do not want to duplicate the stories. ??VERY IMPORTANT! Write in French or Spanish. DO NOT write in English and then expect to translate into French or Spanish; it is far too difficult to translate from English. Plus, these books will be read by beginners so your sentences should be simple and use words that you know. If you need to look a word up, here and there, it is OK but the majority of your writing should come from your knowledge of Spanish. As you work, keep a list of the words you have to look up because those are words that you will put in the illustrated glossary in step three.
The story must have the following parts. Each part will become a page or two. Your writing will not fill up the page; it will be in a large sized font and contain an illustration.
a. Description of the main character. 8 sentences long. Ideas: Name, nickname, physical description, personality description, likes and dislikes, what they want, their job their age.?b. Description of the setting and weather. 6 sentences long. Ideas: Planet, country, state, city, location in the city (store, house, restaurant, stadium, etc.), location in the location (table, counter, room in the house, etc.), weather, how the character feels about the weather.
c. Description of another character whom they are with. 7 sentences long. Ideas: Name, nickname, physical description, personality description, likes and dislikes, what they want, their job their age.?d. Description of a problem for the character to solve. 8 sentences long. Ideas: What they want but do not have, they have to do something they dislike, someone up with a problem for them, they have to solve a mystery.?e. Description of how they solve the problem. 10 sentences long. Ideas: They go to a new place, they learn a new skill, they meet a new person, they find something to help them.
f. Moral of the story. 2 sentences long. Ideas: What they learned, what the lesson is for the reader, a “saying” (You can look up an English saying, like “slow and steady wins the race” on Google, NOT Google Translate, but Google will give the best results (put the saying in quotes to get the best translation) or look up dicho in español or adage en français).
g. “About the Authors” written in first person singular (I, me, mine) with 10 sentences about each author. “About the team” (Sobre el equipo en español or À propos de l’équipe en français) with 4 sentences about the two of you written in first person plural (We, us, our). Ideas: Your name, where you were born, what you like to do, what you do not like, your favorite classes/teachers, what you and your partner have in common, your advice for future students in this class
I will get started on editing them for you on Monday while you work on the computer.
2. Wednesday, May 24: Illustrated pages with two to three sentences in at least 28 point font, and a
large illustration with bold outlines and at least four colors. The illustrations MUST be your original work. 3. Wednesday, May 31: An illustrated glossary with the words that you had to look up. You should have at least 30 words in the glossary. Your glossary should include the French/Spanish and English translation and an illustration of the word with the French/Spanish in the illustration. The illustrations should each include three colors. They can be printed off Google image search if you like, or drawn. Then go back into the book and highlight the words that are found in the glossary. You can underline them or use a colored highlighter or marker to make them a different color.
4. Tuesday, June 6: A cover and title page. The cover should include the date in Spanish or French, the authors’ names, the name of the team with a copyright symbol, and a large illustration that uses at least five colors and is bold. The illustration must be drawn by you.?5. Wednesday, June 7: Final copy due. You will put each page in a clear plastic sheet protector and a black project cover.
6. Thursday, June 8: Writing celebration and reading time, to share with the class and read other classes’ books. Please plan to bring a snack. We will invite parents and others to come to our celebration of all you have learnt this year. I am so proud of your progress! And I am so excited to share your creativity with next year’s classes.



1 thought on “Report from the Field – Julia Lynch”

  1. Yesss! I’ve been feeling good about the story project too! They like the fact that their work will be added to the class library for next year’s fvr. Some stories were so so cute and touching right off the bat, some were strange and didn’t make a lot of sense and needed lots of editing from me which was frustrating. I think it’s because I did fewer class stories and more non story CI this year so they didn’t have as many models….

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