Sunday, August 25, 2019

Story Listening 2.0

This is a twist on regular Story Listening. For the record, I really do like Story Listening. I have experienced it myself as a student, and I know its power in delivering comprehensible input through primarily listening and using drawings to aid in delivering understandable messages. In addition, asking questions and circling do not get in the way of hearing a story being told. However, at the same time, I also know that when doing Story Listening, two issues arise: 
  1. Because I am not asking any questions, I do not know if/how much of the story is actually being comprehended in the target language.
  2. Students can tune out during a Story Listening, since there is nothing keeping them "accountable" for listening. Yes, students are listening which is active, but they can also be passively listening. - they are presently listening but not really taking it in, regardless of how compelling the story is.
My colleague John Foulk added the following to when he does Story Listening: having students draw along with you and copy what you are drawing as you tell and draw the story. I know that some of you may say that this defeats the purpose of story listening (since learners are not solely listening), but now having done Story Listening a few times this way, I really like it. Here is why:
  1. It gives students something active to do while listening to the story and they have to pay attention.
  2. It forces me to slow down in telling the story, since I need to give time for students to draw what I am drawing.
  3. I can get in LOTS of repetitions of each sentence, because I am saying each sentence many times while I wait for students to finish drawing that sentence.
  4. Even though students are copying what I am drawing, they are making a connection with what they are hearing because they themselves are drawing pictures.
  5. Because students have their own artifact of the Story Listening, they can use it as a reference for later activities.
Here is an example of a Story Listening which I just recently did with my Latin 3's. We are starting to read Andrew Olympi's novella Perseus et Rex Malus, so I introduced the prologue with a Tier 1 embedded reading using Story Listening:

Olim erat piscator qui in insula parva habitabat. Quodam die, piscator rete in mare iecit ut capiat pisces. Cum piscator rete in navem traxisset, rete piscatoris erat vacuum. Subito, piscator aliquid in mari vidit. Piscator putavit rem esse navem. Non erat navis, sed erat arca. Quid erat in arca?

Story (English)
Once upon a time there was a fisherman, who was living on a small island. On a certain day, the fisherman threw a net into the sea in order to catch fish. When the fisherman dragged the next into the boat, the fisherman's net was empty. Suddenly, the fisherman saw something in the sea. The fisherman thought that it was a boat. It was not a boat, but it was a box. What was in the box?

Day 1
I told the story as a Story Listening activity and had students copy what I drew. Even though this was just a 7-sentence story, it took a period to complete. No circling/questioning took place. Students turned in their drawings when they were done. As the teacher, either take a picture of the drawing or draw your own copy of it.

Day 2
I projected my Story Listening picture from the day before and then told the story again, pointing and pausing at particular parts of the picture as I retold it. Again, no questioning or circling happened. 
I then asked students to summarize the story in English so that I could confirm that they understood both the drawings and what I had said in Latin. I then handed back the drawings to students and had them answer some comprehension questions in Latin at the bottom/back of the page related to the story. They could use the drawings as a reference, but they had to write down their answer in Latin.

  1. Although the questions relied heavily on the drawings, most students felt that their drawings were comprehensible enough to use to answer the questions.
  2. Many students felt that they did not have to rely on the pictures because they had heard the story repeated so many times.
  3. Those questions which students answered incorrectly told me that those were the sentences/vocabulary words which I needed to review more.
  4. I used this Story Listening to preview the vocabulary words piscator, rete, and vacuum which are rather specific words. However, because these words appeared many times in the story and I kept repeating them while they were copying my drawings and in my retell, most students acquired the words. i suppose that I could have given them a list and told them to have these words memorized, but the repetition of these words in a meaningful context connected to an illustration which they themselves drew led to subconscious acquisition.
  5. Doing a Tier 1 Story Listening of the prologue made it very easy for students to read the Tier 2 level reading.

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