Tools in the toolbox

I feel like so many teachers out there are trying to gather as many tools as they can. They don’t want to use just one tool because then the kids get bored and learning becomes lethargic. My question is how much of their time is spent on the language versus distracting the kids to get their attention on the language? Will all of their tools lead to fluency?

I understand that there is more than one way to learn things and I am sure that we all learned our first language in different ways. But I am pretty sure that none of us learned our first language with the tools in the toolbox that many world language teachers have today. Yes, they are fun for the kids, but do they lead to fluency? What message does it send to the kids? I feel that it turns the language class into a memorization game rather than experiencing the language.

It is true that storytelling can be considered yet again another one of these tools in the toolbox and I know many teachers that see it as such. But perhaps we are not getting to the core of storytelling. If storytelling is done correctly I don’t believe that students will get tired of it. The reason is that when storytelling is done well it is alive and dances with the students.

The teachers who view storytelling as another tool are placing too much emphasis on the story events themselves. What I mean is that they are trying so hard to follow the little script that is front of them. When we tell stories we are not reading them a story. That is what FVR and Kindergarten Day is for. We are creating a story with them. In order for this to work there must be guidelines. They think that it is my story, but that is so that it doesn’t get out of hand. They play the storytelling game by offering up their cute answers to create the story. BUT as we look at the script we must keep the structure below in mind. It needs to be implanted and visualized in our minds as we tell the story.

1. Each sentence is a brick, a foundation to the story. This is the actual sentence we see on the page.

2. We look at our students and change what we see on the page to fit the classroom. This is personalization and can happen through us making it up based on our knowledge of the class or the cute answers we hear from our students.

3. We take this new personalized sentence, which is a foundation to the story, and we circle. This helps to lay the foundation. You can’t just put a brick in place and expect it to stay there. You need mortar to keep it together. The circling questions are where it becomes solid and where the sentence becomes Comprehensible Input.

4. We must remember to do this slowly because they are kids and we need to make sure that they are getting it. If we build too fast we get a poor structure that will fall down. If we take care in building the structure then it will stand firm and permanent.

These are the secrets to good storytelling that move it from a one-day activity to a way of life. If storytelling is done this way then teachers can stop the construction of shanties, throw away their plastic toolbox and begin to build, with power and confidence, a structure that is immovable.


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Filed under Storytelling tips, Teaching Discoveries

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