Whew. Today was a day of a lot of target language for me. This has me excited about the potential for storytelling in my classroom. Here are my immediate reflections:
- I’m not very good at answering my own questions … maybe I should script fake answers?
- Not sure on the best way to have students draw. Should they draw in frames, or on a whole sheet of paper with arrows?
- Next time, they definitely need coloring supplies. I don’t know why I didn’t get them out today.
- I need to review a list of cognates. Thinking of them on the spot is hard.
- Today was a trial run, but I immediately see the need to have structures that are repetitive/new/intriguing for students.
- How were kids STILL NOT paying attention to this?!
Okay! So the first story I told was with my French III class, who are more likely than not still novice high after two years of grammar-based instruction. We’re on a “Help Me!” unit about going to the doctor, etc. I want students to be able to narrate a story, in this case, what happened to you before you went to the doctor. So, Bob and his friend Jeff (who had no eyes or hair, btw) went to the movies with their friend Sylvestre who was a penguin. They ate tons of White Castle hamburgers, (apparently they sell those at the movie theatre in town?! GROSS!) getting sick, and throwing up, prompting a visit to the hospital. As was the pattern in most of my stories today, someone died.
In both of my novice French I classes, we’re in a “What do you like to do?!” unit. So we told a story about a guy named Pierre who didn’t like to go outside, was lazy, and only did inside activities. Then he met another girl and she loves to go outside! What should they do together?! In both stories, Pierre dies. In one story from being allergic to cats, in another for going outside to an amusement park. When he died in the second class, one of my kids who thinks my class is boring (see my last post) said “This is AWESOME.”
Things I learned from this experience:
- I need to be clear that suggestions should be given in French
- These kids, who think that they can’t understand anything spoken to them in French, did REALLY well.
- Questioning is key. I don’t know what to do when there are lulls in the story, but questioning might fill those.
- I definitely need to have a better outline in my head/drawn out before we go. It went much better with the second story that I did because I knew what should be coming next.
I’m still amazed by how many students talked to the person next to them, didn’t draw, stopped drawing and started reading, etc. How was telling a story where a guy dies STILL NOT ENGAGING for them? Is this my fault?
The last thing I’m really unsure about is how to stop extraneous talking during the story. It seems that everyone (ESPECIALLY my novices) needed to translate out loud, or say if they like that, or comment on my (terrible) drawing, or talk to their friend right now. How do I stop that? It’s probably my classroom management, working against me, once again.
Today was a scary day, but I didn’t chicken out, and my students seemed to respond well for the most part. This looks like it’s going to be the start of a great journey into storytelling. Plus, when I finalllllllllllllllllllly get my AppleTV for my classroom, I’ll be able to record my stories on an iPad app, so students that weren’t there can hear them fresh the first time, and I’ll be able to reflect and hear myself (bleck) and the things I needed to improve!
Do you have any advice for telling stories in class? What do you like to do for follow-up activities? How do you get those kids to stop commenting on everything, at least in English? I’d love to hear your input or advice … and I’ll be updating you on the storytelling process again soon.