StoryListening and Invisibles Archive-by Erin

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Hey everyone! I am SO excited for this blog and all the potential that it has. Brett and I are trailblazers in our district. There are only a couple (out of hundreds) language teachers who are using CI consistently. I have been on a long CI journey in a little over a year and it just keeps getting better!

I started out extremely targeted, pointing to words on a screen and having the students copy everything I said in the TL. They would then read and rewrite the stories from memory and I would start all over. I used to tell them to go home and study the stories for the rewrites! Oh how far I have come.

Then at the beginning of this year, I continued to be targeted but used PQA and story asking to make the experience more enjoyable for everyone. It worked…for a while. And then the students got tired of the process, and I got tired of trying to pull creative answers out of their middle school, hormone-flooded brains. Then I tried the Invisibles and more non-targeted or emergent approaches, and they worked too, but I was still struggling with not getting creative answers. I’m not sure why – was the problem was with me, or was it that my crop of students this year just weren’t that creative? I am looking forward to attending Comprehensible Cascadia to learn more tips and have my first, official CI training with the greats!

Towards the end of the year, I stumbled upon StoryListening, I believe through Annabelle Allen’s blog. In one of her posts, she mentioned Dr. Beniko Mason. Then I saw more about StoryListening on Mike Peto’s blog, and I watched his video to see what he was doing. I tried one story listening activity with my Spanish IIs that was WAY too hard for them and not at all comprehensible. But, not one to give up easily, I went back to the drawing board and watched more of Mike Peto’s videos and read more articles. I watched Mike’s video of him telling the Kingdom of Flowers story, and I liked it, but I wasn’t sure what my students would think. I was nervous to try again, so I typed up a script and told it to my first class. It went so great that I told it to my next class, and my next class, and my next. After 5 tellings, it went so well that the students yelled, “I didn’t see that coming!” at the twist at the end. I was in love! What a relief not to have to pull answers out of them. What a relief to be able to just speak the language without stopping, without behavior issues, without competing against every little noise that keeps middle schoolers from focusing. They loved it because they could understand it. I loved it because it took the pressure off and I could just speak Spanish, which I LOVE to do!

After I told the Kingdom of Flowers story, I ran into a problem. The question “what story should I tell next?” plagued me for a while. I tried another one I saw Mike Peto do, and my students didn’t care for it as much. I began to see the need for a place where one could go to find many stories, already written in simple Spanish, with other resources as well. And that is how the idea for this blog was born in my mind.

All that being said, it is still a work in progress. The vision for this blog, however, is that it will be a place where teachers can come and find simple stories to tell in class, and to see examples of the Invisibles (which can double as stories to tell in class). I am so excited to see where we can go from here and who we can connect with, because as Brett and I know, we cannot do this without each other. We are a small community among language teachers and we need to stick together and help each other!

If you look at the top of our page, you will see a tab titled Resources. Right now I am compiling all StoryListening resources on one page, but I am sure it will grow! Everything I have is in Spanish, but one day we hope to provide support to other languages as well. Feel free to make a copy, use, edit or change anything in the Resources tab.

AND! We want your stories! Please send us links to stories you have used in class in the comments section or my using the “Contact” tab at the top. We look forward to adding your stories to our collection! Thanks everyone and happy end of the school year! We are almost there!!!!

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