I thought I was back to normal, but another little chore has interrupted my classes: I’ve been trying to make videos for a project that wants teachers to show how they use technology. It took me until this week to figure out that I didn’t need to force kids to use technology projects that don’t match our system; they can just use technology that we would use anyway.
So, based on this new idea, I have been back in a big way at stories as discussed on Ben Slavic’s blog. The class gets to vote on the picure that we’re going to use, and we tell a story about it. We write it together, and then I add pictures. Somehow, watching me add the pictures (because I do the quickest search possible in the target language) is fascinating.
We’ve also revived an old standby: if a student is absent, we tell a story about that student. When one student came back to class, we caught him up on the action (turned out he was hoping to catch the Magic Carp in Hoenn, a region in Pokemon). Ben has been discussing an “active dictation,” where the class writes together. It’s really no different from writing the story on the board or on the projector, except that what I’ve managed to add is the pictures. By taking the time to add the pictures, I get to keep talking and the slower writers are able to catch up.
We finished telling, writing, and illustrating a story about one kid today, and I broke the kids into groups to do a story about another one who was missing. They presented the stories in groups, Susie Gross style. This is the first time in a while that we’ve presented stories, and we had enough time left in the period that I told them they should all add at least one more detail to what each person said. They reconvened, and then retold their stories in groups to me. It was fun to hear how they improved. It reminded me of the strategy of starting with a one-minute fast-write, then increasing to three, five, and ten minutes. I think we’ll tell and write those stories again tomorrow.
Then I might just leave them for the students to draw on the next day with a substitute.