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. 


6 responses to “Returning

  1. I’ve been doing something similar with my students as well. The engagement level is very high and the writing is quite productive. Thank you for sharing!


  2. I love your idea of adding pictures via a search as you tell a story, that is awesome, but how do you avoid inappropriate pictures popping up in your search?


    • Well…one did! and it was a completely innocuous word! I have learned to use one button on my Promethean Board remote that blanks the screen while I look at the Internet. The kids understand why I’m doing it, of course.


  3. The idea of adding pictures as you re-tell the story and students write it is really good. I can’t figure out how you do it quickly, how you keep the text in view of the class while doing a search at the same time, how you can copy and paste quickly and efficiently. I tried doing this both on word and excel. It was doable for me on word, but took a lot of adjusting that might cause disruption in the classroom. Maybe I’m not getting this right. Also I don’t have a Promethean board only my laptop connected to an lcd projector.


    • It’s tricky. I scoot the power point way to the left and the search way to the right. I’m a fast typist, and feel no embarrassment for the poor kids who have to figure out where the text moved. It’s probably a heck of a lot less impressive or smooth in reality than you’re imagining!

      Oh. Power point works a lot better than word. You can just slide the image right onto the slide. And take the very first picture that works. Laurie Clarcq taught me not to be fussy about ppoint pictures.


  4. Thank you.
    I will experiment with it.


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