Skip To Michele

Hi Michele –
I have been wanting to thank you for taking the time to write out step by step instructions  on Ben’s blog (3/6/2010-way down under the comments) on how to have  students create stories from  3 structures..
After reading your “instructions” I gave it a try in my class and OH MY GOODNESS – it worked so well!   To get the structures I  asked  3-4 students in the Spanish 1 class to write down a word that they would like to know in Spanish but didn’t.   I used those words as the structures.   Their words/structures were:
                I am Pancakes
                I want to throw it
                I do what I want
                Put it away!
                feed me!
                make me a sandwich!
It worked beautifully.   We had actors and everything.  I had them give me words on Wednesday.  Thursday when I came in I had actually planned to NOT try the new idea because I was a bit nervous to try something new.   They asked me immediately if we were going to use their words.   Of course I said yes.  The “buy in” was fantastic.   I had no trouble at all finding the “best” story.   The other groups were green with envy and I could tell they couldn’t wait for the next time.  Everything you said would happen did.   The L2 flowed for most of the period.  I also liked the fact that it brought in the first person – something we hadn’t  worked with much this year. 
Thank you so very much.   I am going to forward your “instructions” to my colleagues because I think they would find this idea very helpful them as well. 
I appreciate your support and help. 
Skip Crosby
Poland, Maine



4 thoughts on “Skip To Michele”

  1. O.K. now this is new to me and expands on Michele’s idea of students generated stories into asking them first what expressions they would like to know. But the time line is a bit confusing to me Skip, so let me say it back as per what I am hearing:
    1. You asked three or four kids, to start, for about five expressions that they would like to know. Only those kids got to offer suggestions and, from them, you got the ones above.
    2. Did you then PQA them the rest of the day, and then, the next day, you had the kids start the class by making the short stories? (I will put the instructions from Michele that you referred to as a separate blog today so we can search it under student generated stories – I need to create a category here for that as well).
    3. Then, as per Michele, after a few minutes you picked a story and went with it. Also then tell us how the reading part went.
    I’ll go find that comment from Michele now and turn it into a blog.
    [ed. note: All of this, weather the kids generate the stories or however, is just a variation on a theme – we introduce a few structures (establish meaning), talk about them for awhile while trying to get some personalized information tied to the new structures (PQA), then, when and if we feel like taking the structures into a story, we do that, then we read, expand/embed, and, when that process (Reading) and talking about the reading through various stacks of embeddedness is complete, we start the entire process again with some new structures. At least that is what CI means to me as I think about it today. The pattern I just described, however it is labeled, seems to be what makes all of this stuff work, and what makes it unique, truly unique, among foreign language pedagogies. Tying that elegance to a unit in some book, even a TPRS unit book – which to me is a contradiction in terms – would only harden the process described above, which is one of free form elegance, as in the ice skaters who win the gold are not just the technicians, but the artists who ALLOW elegance to FLOW THROUGH THEM]

  2. That is perfect Ben. Each of the four students gave me 1 word. I was afraid that I had too many – but it seemed okay. I established meaning with them one day and then the next had them write a story.

  3. So Skip when you say you established meaning I assume that was telling them briefly what the terms meant and then doing PQA with those terms the rest of the period. Is that correct?
    Then the next day would you not have first done a story with the terms, and then you yourself written the story they made? Clarify this please. I want to make sure we are on the same page exactly.

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