Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Retelling Stories using Nonlinguistic Representations in a Dual Language Classroom

My students did a fun lesson today on retelling stories.  We are reading the novel The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White in Spanish (we are a dual immersion classroom), and it is much more difficult in Spanish than in English.  I have a lot of Spanish learners in my class so I had to find a way to scaffold and differentiate to make the story meaningful for all learners.

I began with a read aloud while my students followed along.  I had divided the chapter of 8 pages up into fourths, so every two pages we stopped and represented the plot in a nonlinguistical manner.  We drew the image we saw in our minds.  This activity created a lot of discussion within table groups as the students drew their pictures.  Students were asking for vocabulary, plot, character analysis, everything I try to teach and they don't listen to easily, they were now asking for freely from their peers.  As I walked by table groups I heard joy and academic laughter.  One student said, "Qué divertido!" which means how fun!  Students that I have to pull teeth from to get any work out of were freely working and actually understanding the text.  After about five minutes for each section I would place student examples on the overhead projector for the whole class to admire and copy if missing prime examples of the plot.  I also made a word list that I wanted to be added to the sketch to be used further on in the lesson.

Next I had the students close the lesson with a quick write on the journal page beside the non-linguistical representation of the chapter.  I assign a quickwrite so students can organize the ideas in their brains, especially the students learning the language.  Students use the word lists I had previously given them and the organization of the four square with the images to retell the story.  Quick writes have also been proven to improve intelligence because the recalling of information and applying it to the written work gets the brain's dendrites firing up and that is an excellent accomplishment in the     classroom for any teacher.

 The above example is done by native Spanish speaker.  Here is an example of a Spanish Learner's work.  This is a great activity for differentiation.  Everybody works and grows at their level.

 Next week I will build on all this great work the students have accomplished.  I will build on the vocabulary, plot, and character development the non-linguistical drawings promoted when I ask the students to reread the chapter with their shoulder partner.  Shoulder partners are strategically chosen to be high/medium or medium/high.  This promotes learning from both students.  One gets one on one tutoring, and the other gets to explain their ideas which cements knowledge into the brain and again, gets those dendrites firing.   So one partner will begin reading while the other will listen and assist if necessary.  Then after the reader has read half the page, that same readers  will ask the listener a question.  This will put added rigor to the reader to not only read for phonics but for comprehension since they know that they will be responsible for asking a question.  The listener then will answer the question and  will begin reading the second half of the page.  If they don't know the answer the reader must show them where to find it, and the question must be text based.

After the rereading of the chapter is when the fun begins.  The students will be ready to collaborate to realize the big idea objective of retelling stories.  Collaboration is only legit when everyone in the group participates.  This next activity is a true example of that.   There are four students in each pod in my classroom and they are numbered off between #1 - #4.  Student number #1 will begin with a sentence that represents box #1 of the day before's non-linguistic representation.  He will use his best vocabulary and grammar to retell that one scene.  When he has finished his teammates will add to it, delete from it, or completely renovate it.  This will open up a valuable team discussion of vocabulary, plot, character, and much more.  It is the perfect environment for language learners!  Once the team has come to a decision, they will all write the same one sentence to represent scene #1 of the chapter.  The activity will be repeated with all four scenes, and thus all four team members will get a chance to express their opinions and use their vocabulary to retell a story.

Finally we get to the presentation component of the lesson.  The students will have read, written, listened, and now they will get a chance to speak in front of their peers.  This is a great way to practice public speaking, something that all students have to learn to excel in in the 21st Century.  I will give the students five minutes to practice reading their story summaries.  I will then choose a random number between one and four.  Whose ever number is chosen, they will be representing their table.  They will go to another table to present their summary.  The three members at the other table will listen and then give three responses.  They will give one praise, one item of confusion, and one piece of advice.  Then the representative will return back to their table to deliver the news of what was praiseworthy, what was confusing, and what needed to be changed.  The goal is the teams will improve upon their writing style the next time I assign this activity.

This is the plan for next week, with my goal of retelling a story using a variety of language learner scaffolding and strategies tailored for success.  I'll let you know how it goes.  Being an educator I know that you know that I may have a completely different story to tell... Planning a lesson and experiencing it are two different entities.  :)

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