News

I mentioned earlier that we were reading the news. I just can’t bear to read more of that disaster tonight with my parent classes. Somehow I ended up finding a story about a crocodile that swallowed a lady’s telephone. The park rangers wouldn’t believe her until they heard ringtones coming from the animal. He’s lost his appetite now and may need surgery. In searching earlier for the word “explodes” (thanks to Laurie, who has inspired me to do news/song/video searches when I have specific vocabulary), I came up with a story about a python who exploded when he tried to eat an alligator. And when looking for news about airports, I found a story about a proposal at 35,000 feet. So we’re going to get all that vocabulary into the parents’ minds, and then tomorrow I’ll use these stories with my kids.

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5 responses to “News

  1. I love these ideas of targeted news items. Especially for upper level classes who fashion themselves as too mature to laugh at the goofy stuff that often comes up, real world stories are at least as weird and have a great pull on them. I was actually just going through a favorite German online magazine and pulling out all of the “news of the weird” entries from the last couple months. The ringing crocodile was in there along with an elephant who got booted from a casting show in India, as well as a couple of German robbers who were arrested when they got stuck in the elevator and called the police for help. We can’t make this stuff up!

    Why is it that I just spent the past three hours reviewing appropriate readings for my upper level classes, and then just stumble across these stories that have a much greater hook?

    Thanks for the tip to use target vocabulary to find these stories. I was just thinking about starting up class tomorrow with an embedded reading based on a skeletal outline, but my problem with those are that because that so much of the first day is text based, the second reading day generally falls kind of flat. Now I’ll just pull out a follow-up real life story the next day, and let that provide the variety you need on back-t0-back days. Actually, as long as I’m thinking aloud while typing, I think I’ll backwards plan the structures from one or two of the better stories I just found and let that determine my target structures for the embedded reading.

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  2. And another idea…

    Copy the original story, then downsize it two or three times until it becomes just the nuts and bolts, and you’ll have three or four levels of embedded story, just from having deleted extraneous lines. Then ask the story, filling in whatever the kids offer, but keeping it to the structures you want to emphasize. It’s amazing how often the stuff they come up with turns out to be what you’ll need.

    Then you can either type up the new story and compare it, or just use the one that you came up with for the nuts-and-bolts one for the first reading at the end of the day, and add the rest the next couple of days.

    That’s what I just did with my parent group. The beginners got the nuts and bolts about the crocodile, and read the first “skeleton” story; then the intermediate group got to re-tell the story (because those beginners just won’t leave!) and and they then read the more complex versions of the story. But here’s what’s interesting: the beginners were hanging right in there, translating huge chunks of a Russian newspaper article on their third night of Russian.

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  3. You’re awesome. Thanks for sharing. Those beginners must have been pretty impressed with what they could do after 3 days! (I am too.)

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  4. I really enjoyed the robbers in the elevator story. These are great.

    Here’s another fun story that you might like to use some time that I got from my Ag colleague. It’s about a wild pig named Squeaky that works on a ranch herding cows. This pig won’t eat pig food… It really likes pizza and Dr. Pepper.

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/5937834.html

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  5. I love both these stories. Both of them remind me of a hint from I don’t remember whom anymore about starting stories with a phrase…”There was a pig who didn’t like. . . ” or “There were two young men in an elevator.” Then you could follow with the actual story or create your own.

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