On Tuesday the 7th graders made a character (See A Natural Approach to Stories). They couldn’t decide on the character’s color so they decided that it would change color depending on its emotion. Matching feelings and colors made for interesting discussion.

On Wednesday we made up a story with the character and followed a pretty basic storyline. Introduce the character, identify what the character wants/needs, have the character go on a quest for it, character fails to complete quest.

Rather than type the story before class on Thursday, I decided that the students collectively could do the write up of the story.

We started class with a 6-question Dictation/translation Quiz.

  1. Listen to a sentence from the beginning of the story. Write it in Spanish.
  2. Rewrite #1 in English.
  3. Listen to a sentence from the middle of the story. Write it in Spanish.
  4. Rewrite #3 in English.
  5. Listen to a sentence from the end of the story. Write it in Spanish.
  6. Rewrite #5 in English.

The dictation/translation quiz is a good warm-up for the next activity as it models writing complete sentences from either the beginning, middle or end of the story.

After the quiz, we did what Martina Bex calls “story strips”. Each student writes one sentence from either the beginning, middle, or end of the story. (Specifying “beginning, middle, or end” isn’t a must but it helps avoid a pile of sentences from just the beginning.) Then I collect them, take one from the pile, read it aloud (accurately, not exactly what’s written), and then ask students if it was from the beginning, middle or end of the story. I repeat this process a few more times until I have a handful of slips taped to the board. Once there are several slips on the board, I can ask if the sentence I just read aloud occurred before or after this slip (points to and summarizes a slip). Once all the slips are on the board with repeats taped one on top of the other, it’s time to fill in the games. Students write a sentence that’s not already on the board on their second slip of paper. I collect them and then repeat the process of taping them on the board.

Now we have a complete written version of the story for next week’s text based activities.