I Miss Storytelling

I haven’t done much storytelling at all in my advanced class, where I have a wonderful group of kids. They would teach themselves if I weren’t here. From level 2 to AP/IB, they complement one another’s strengths. As a result, they will do whatever I say in good spirit. That’s great, except that I miss storytelling. While we didn’t quite ask a story, I got to use their storytelling skills to predict a text today.

Today I gave the IB kids an embedded reading on refugees. Their job was to read two levels and then do a fill-in-the-gap exercise that I created on Textivate (see Martina Bex or Ben Slavic for Textivate info).

IMG_8205For the other groups, I had copied the second level of an embedded text about a girl who is spending time in the summer with her grandparents in the village. (It came from an on-line writing contest.)

I couldn’t pull up the first version of the text because of technological problems. My original plan had been to read the first version together on the display, then hand out the second version for kids to find what was added. It turned out that tech issue was a good thing. What we did instead was that I “asked” the text. It starts, “I wake up early in the morning.” I said, “I am a young girl (they all laughed), and I wake up…” They filled in a variety of answers each time I did a sentence starter. Finally we agreed on “early in the morning.” “I hear voices of…” (Grandparents and parents talking.) “They are talking about…” (the weather, and me, of course).” Grandmother has baked my favorite…” (apple and lemon pies). And so on. The kids were throwing out suggestions, silly and reasonable, and we could talk about tenses, grammar, word origin issues whenever a grammar pop-up was appropriate. The artist had to redraw a few times because I told her what each answer really was, after handing out rubles for almost any answer.

Then we read the text I’d copied out. We went over it once with the whole group, and then I asked them to read silently. For the last 20 minutes (of an 85-minute class), we went to the lab, where the most advanced kids repeated their textivate gap fill-in, and the rest of the kids got to choose their level for the text we’d been reading. I love Textivate!!

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 2.14.56 PMIn the last few minutes, I unveiled a Textivate Challenge, and that went well too. I was happy with this lesson. We read, students discussed, they understood complex texts, and they got to play with what was still the same reading at their own levels and paces.

Ideally, these readings will continue to add to our ideas about where people want to live and why they want to live there. The IB group is going to explain why Europe is flooding with refugees, and I’m going to figure out an engaging reason to hold a debate or contest about this topic.

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