Step 3 Reading

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24 thoughts on “Step 3 Reading”

  1. I agree with Ben.

    IMO, if you do feel the need to change any of the details for whatever reason (to keep them on their toes, for a make-up reading quiz, etc), change a detail to a word(s) they ALL already know really well, or proper nouns.

    I do however in Step 3 sometimes introduce a connecting word, the academic kind of language so to speak, a word like “nevertheless” or something. I’ll throw in one new word like that, with a few reps, for the reading, because I have a hard time teaching stuff like that orally.

    1. Like yesterday I introduced only one word into the reading. I added in, in the middle of the paragraph at the start of a sentence, “Don’t forget that so and so….”. But we got lots of reps on it and I think the kids have it now. It was a throw in. Had I thrown in four of those, they would have not gotten any of them.

  2. I gotta agree AND disagree with Ben. YES it’s important to keep 95% of the vocab from asked story. However, kids get bored with the exact same story seeing asked once and then reread 3x.

    My solution: make first and second embedded readings basically the asked story (just change possibly names and places). Version 1 is skeletal. Version 2 adds background detail etc. Version 3 uses same vocab but new storyline. If V3 is 95% comprehensible– I can add say 3 new words (usually nouns) and PQA them before the kids read via ping-pong/popcorn reading– kids can do on their own. When they finish I can then review and add to story via extension questions.

  3. Great idea Chris and one that I would do if I weren’t so lazy. But yeah, that is a clever way to insert new stuff. And I agree fully with the quantities of new vocab – it’s limited and that’s the point. It’s a good plan.

  4. There was a good post by Susan Gross on yahoo moretprs where someone asked her “do we gotta have 3 locations per story?”

    Her answer was, when Blaine and she and Joe figured it out like 25 years ago, the only way initially they could find for reps was 3 locations (Blaine’s idea) and circling (Gross’s idea). Now, however, we have so many more tools (the most significant of which IMHO is embedded reading) so we don’t HAVE to do three locations.

    Indeed the 3-locations thing may work against us if overused as the stories then become clichéd. Matava scripts don’t always use ’em; we can improv scenes, etc. What matters most IMHO are 3 things:

    A) limited vocab and unlimited reps
    B) story asking & reading to “tie” everything together (novels)
    C) reps across “multiple platforms” eg stories & ERs, movietalk, L&D, retells…

    1. 3 locations… I go back in forth in practice. Sometimes, if a group is rolling with suggestions and helpful details, I can stay in one location and then if I’m feeling it I can get unlimited reps in just one location. In those cases, moving to a second or third location can feel forced and unnecessary. But in the case of the quieter groups, or if I feel like I’m doing a story just to get the reps (as opposed to genuine communication which certain groups offer), I just simplify everything and stick very close to the script, usually hitting all 3 locations and calling it good. I have a super quiet group that often elicits this latter approach from me. Is it better than not hitting all 3 locations? I think it totally depends on the teacher and the group. We’ve got lots of options with this stuff.

      1. My solution has been to try to use three “situations” rather than locations. Mario needs a Kleenex. Mario asks for a Kleenex. No one gives him a Kleenex.

        (nothing below is compelling, it is what you and your kids add to it that is compelling!)

        Option #1 : He asks everyone on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. (Wednesday no one is left in class to give him one, they all have a cold from him sneezing on them Mon/Tues)

        Option #2 : He asks Dad, Dad gives him a handkerchief. He ask Mom, Mom gives him a _______, He asks Grandpa, Grandpa gives him _______________.

        Option #3 : He asks Taylor Swift who says “That’s gross!”. He asks __________ who says, “No way!” He asks ________________ who says, “Never, ever!”

        Option #4 : He goes to CVS and asks. The employee says, “We no longer sell cigarettes nor Kleenex” He goes to Walgreens and asks. The employee says, “We no longer sell ___________ nor Kleenex” He goes to Rite Aid and asks. The employee says, “We no longer sell ________ nor Kleenex”

        Anyway….you get the idea. It’s three “situations”. And they can build. Maybe day #1 of the cold he needs a small Kleenex and sneezes through it…so day #2 he needs a bigger Kleenex etc.

        with love,

        1. oops I forgot to add that it is STILL important, I think anyway, to have those three situations to take place in three different parts of the classroom…for a lot of reasons that we can get into if someone needs us to!!

          with love,

        2. That’s a good way to look at the story structure. If I understand this correctly, with three places we may be focusing on the verb for getting to/from those places (go, arrive, leave for, fly,…).
          But with situations the focus is on other actions, as in this case, asking for.
          Thanks for the multiple options

          1. Exactly…it just opens things up. Instead of just asking ourselves where are three places he can ask for Kleenex, we can think about three situations which require him to ask for Kleenex….so three different people, three different places, three different types of Kleenex, three different times, three different reasons to ask, and on and on!!

            with love,

  5. ^ ya totally ^

    My last batch of beginners was ALL about improv. That’s what worked best– starting with a random comment (“Mr Stolz, Rasna’s wearing a pink sweater!” Why…well because Justin Bieber gave it to her last night on their date…) and seeing hwere it went.

    My prob w/ improv is that it’s too easy to get to 3rd location, character gets ____ is happy etc. The suprises are what make stories work (that and class chemistry and comprehensibility) and while I can improv no prob I cannot always improv a cool twist ending into it…which means keeping it short…which sometimes means limtied reps.

    1. Ending? Who needs an ending? I think Blaine’s mission with stories is “to never finish a story” or something like that.

      And though it IS improv often, and something that all us L2 teachers would benefit from improving our skills in, I think we could better call it “flexibility” because often we know what structure(s) we want them to acquire and we make it happen, even if it doesn’t follow the “rules”. Improv is what we do with students when we wake up late and don’t have shit planned for the day and so we go completely with what we see/hear first and try to roll with it.

  6. I don’t have enough imagination and ability to think quickly while at the same time doing what I am supposed to be doing – getting reps on targeted structures. For me it’s not about talking to the kids about anything – it’s about getting reps on target structures. At the end of class, I want to have said two or three structures over a hundred times each. THOSE TARGETS are the objective of the class for me. The method is predicated on narrow and deep with a few structures. Often kids can’t follow a shallow and wide discussion because the CI train is not traveling down those solid rails offered in stories.

    I agree that we should follow the energy as it happens moment to moment in class, but I still rely on Matava’s scripts and their three locations to propel the train down the tracks. Also, most of the kids in my own student population are too busy trying to survive school and in many cases, their jobs. Being perky and awake and full of cute answers is not something they do. And it’s not part of the method. It’s nice, and my job in spite of their being beaten down by life and other teachers is to try to get cute answers out of them, but don’t you know it ain’t easy. My student population is so burdened*.

    I don’t always get to the second and third locations, but I know that I have them there. I limit improvisation unless we can figure out a way to do it while at the same time executing the (underrated) skill of getting a rep on each target in every single sentence we say. Basically, when I work from a script, there is no danger of forgetting the target and/or of letting in too many new expressions.

    When I do PQA there is always too much random new information behind me on the board, for lack of concrete targeted structures when we began, but when I do a story, I am much more secure – the variables are underlined, the kids replace them with personalized stuff (so they think they created the story) and then there is a target structure right there each time I look down at the script so I don’t go wide or off the tracks. The structures are the tracks. So, and this is just me personally, I prefer working from a script. I know I have done better teaching when there is a clean board behind me at the end of class.

    *What is going on in Mexico is not what is being reported. What my students have been telling me recently has shocked me in the deepest sense of the word.


  7. “It is a lot easier to have a clean board at the end of class when doing a story as opposed to random CI”

    There’s a real tension here, a tightrope that each teacher will walk in his/her own way depending on the class. The “net” hypothesis allows us to be random, and follow student interest. But we really don’t want a cluttered board by the end of class–that is a great indicator that we have gone out of bounds, and lost some of our students, or at least given them a case of whiplash by jumping around to to many new structures and tangents. I frequently indulge my inner 4%er-philologist-mad scientist-superdork in this way, but the result is almost always that students are lost.

    At NTPRS, when doing practice sessions, people were constantly frustrated at the lack of board space, or they only had 1/2 of a large post it to write their structures. But that was a blessing, because it limited the # of new structures that we could put up. So having a large board in our classroom is a double edged sword. Better to use that wall space for wordwalls and question words, and keep a small board that will fit no more than, say, 10 structures/words.

    This brings to mind a possible job. Has anyone given students a small board and assigned them a structure, to be the keeper and reminder of that structure?

  8. I just started with my Level 2s who I havn’t seen in 7 months. I am doing 2 weeks of basically random PQA before I re-do my very first story (los gatos azules). Board is a mess @ end of class…but ONLY BECAUSE IT’S REVIEW. These guys generally recognise most things…but there’s always 3-4 who don’t get something so I write everythign down. I tell them “only write down what you can’t remember.”

    When I get to new stuff and stories, I’ll be hammering my 3 structures/class. Last batch of beginners I introduced 384 words. Next year’s goal: be under 300.

  9. I don’t do PQA as a first, separate step. There I said it. No PQA step for me. There are various reasons (demands creativity, often less compelling, and my elementary students can’t sit still for much of it). In my opinion, if you are going to use PQA, then it makes sense as the last step, because it requires higher-level, application skills. You are using the targeted structure in various contexts and after the story and reading, you can go wider and more likely stay comprehensible.

    I translate and come up with gestures for the structures, then jump right into the story. I still spend at least 3 classes on the same targeted structures, but I may do 2-3 days of the story in different locations/events, 2-3 days of reading input (ROA, textivate, RT, parallel story) and a little time for output (retells and speedwrites). If I see the chance to ask a kid a question using the target structure about his personal/imaginary life, then I do. In my classroom, I recently posted images of Disney characters, celebrities, and other cartoon families, in order to do PQA around a customized character and give my kids ideas for cute answers.

    One other thing I’ve done in lieu of PQA, which I’m liking, is to project a sample first location story text that has the target structures. Then, I can ROA to “break in” the new structures and the students get a good idea of what I’m looking for. If I have the student artist work from a previous class on the same story, then as my first step, I may introduce the structures as I retell and circle a different class’s story.

    What I’m starting to do is have students read the same story in present, past, and various verb forms. I like re-writing the story in the first-person tense and pretending I am the main character. Then, I ask the students questions about myself and they get to output in the 2nd person.

    The #1 skill I am going to target for myself is “getting a rep on each target in every single sentence we say.” Thank you Ben. I need this reminder at the start of every class!!! I think the “non-targeted CI” only works if we had a lot more instruction time needed to give kids the reps.

  10. This year Ive been using embedded readings with my 6th graders quite consistently. I saw Laurie Clarq present in Maine and I’m sold on the idea. It does take more prep, but not much more than typing up the entire story. And I add some clip art which my visual students appreciate.
    And it’s funny with the 3 locations-I haven’t been using 3 locations with my 6th graders but I feel like I’m getting enough reps through PQA, circling and embedded reading. It’s interesting to think about for sure…

    1. I am so happy that you were willing to give embedded readings a try and super glad that the embedded readings are working for you and your students!! Let me know if you are willing to share any and we will gladly put them up on the site for others to use or look at for inspiration.

      with love,

      1. Yes your workshop totally inspired me (AGAIN)! Something I’ve also been doing is embedded speaking…when I read to students in Spanish from a novel and I know they’re totally understanding me, I slip in another verb, usually silly, just to see if they’re paying attention-kind of like embedded reading. And then I ask, what did I just say? IT’s just a way to spice up the novel readings.
        Laurie I hope you’re going to Denver in July because I’m planning on it!

  11. Embedded readings ROCK. Best thing EVER. And if you make 1 and 2 similar, but change #3 (with 95% same vocab), your circling and extension options increase exponentially.

  12. lol this question was mine, not John’s. And I missed the discussion because I didn’t turn on my computer during this last string of snow days. Thanks for all the responses, guys. I’ll get to them happily sometime today.

  13. With level 1s, does anyone type up the same exact story in the PAST tense, after having created it in the present tense, acting it out, and reading and textivating it? I haven’t ever done so for level 1, but was thinking about it. How early in the year should I do that? Is first story EVER with them too soon 😉 ?

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