Language Sensei

A Language Teacher's Journey

Self-Created Riff on “The Story Game”


Child's Drawing of FamilyOne of the best things about the #langchat PLN is the almost ‘freakish’ timeliness of the ideas generously shared by it’s members. This happened to me a while back courtesy of “The Story Game” post from Martina Bex on her blog “The Comprehensible Classroom“. It referred to an idea originally posted on Bryan Kandel TPRS. The posts came right at the time my Yr 4’s were revisiting Daily Routine items – prior to their Murder Mystery oral activity.  It allowed me to combine one of my favourite homework options – the Sketch and Share – with partner work and oral interactive skills. The activity was done over 2 class periods  – and only for part of each period.

Here’s what I had them do.

Prior to Day 1

– Create/generate 8 pictures of what you do in your day – clip art, sketch whatever – and ensure that you can describe to someone what the pictures show

Day 1

– Meet with at least 3 other students in class. Work through their pictures with them – using them to describe what goes on in your day. My focus at this time is also linking/transitional work as they move from activity to activity.

-Then the students meet with 2 other students and just show their pictures. It is then their partners who must generate the language that matches what is going on. This is also a great way for students to expand their vocabulary – as students will not all express things the same way.

Day 2

– Partners each bring out their “My Day” 8 cards. Using those cards – in any combination – they are given 20 minutes to create a story based on the pictures. The story can be any type they wish.

-The only requirements are my usual  – that both partners participate equally in the telling and that they aren’t to dive into the dictionary (if they do – they can’t use a word(s) unless they can explain the meaning). The story has to be repeatable – as they will be telling it to 3 other pairs.

-Once the 20 minutes is up  – it’s story time. Each group meets with 3 other pairs – and tells their story as well as hear the other pairs’ tale. They are encouraged to use their transitional words and to ask questions to clarify what they don’t understand.

At the end of the activity students used one of my simple oral activity assessments – and added their own comments on how they felt about the activity before they actually did it, as well as after (“I thought it would be…” “After doing this I learned that/was surprised that…”) The students all talked about how much easier it became in round 2 and 3. Several students remarked that they began to ad-lib in more details as they retold their story or were asked about certain parts. Many also said it was a great ‘stretcher’ for their personal language as they heard other groups stories – that included different vocabulary and ways of constructing the stories themselves.

As for me I saw engaged/interested students who were focused on using a topic area to creatively tell a story. Students were using all of their skills in communicating their story – clarifying, questioning, rephrasing as needed.

I will be using the “story game” idea again with my other classes when it suits – and quite frankly it suits just about any topic area!  Thanks Martina for highlighting this post and Bryan for the original idea.








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