I love literature, and I love this particular workshop. All the activities presented would be easily integrated in my teaching practice. I wish we had done this workshop right in the beginning of the course, it would have served in a very useful way in teaching the narrative cluster for grade 12. Anyway, the first great activity is ‘Walking through the story’. After listening to an oral story, learners are supposed to write down the story stages they can remember then compare them with the notes from the teacher. Then, with a partner, they are going to retell it, in their own words using notes, and whenever they reach a new stage they have to make a step forward. For sure, I will not miss the opportunity to try it with my students. It addresses many language skills like listening for gist and details, taking notes, developing notes into a speech, and addresses various learning styles.
Another interesting activity is ‘Pink Bow Tie‘. Presented a picture (of a bow tie), learners have to write answers to a set of questions that the teacher asks (*). The activity is done in groups; each member is going to write his own answer, fold the paper and handle it to one sitting on his left. At the end, each learner is going to have a funny story with interesting and sometimes unconnected events. Ultimately, the story is given to the students to be read and compared to what they have written. Of course, this activity could be adapted to suit students’ levels, interests and cultural beliefs.
‘The Wolf’s Tale’ is the last activity I will definitely use. Actually, it appeals to creative thinking and helps considering issues from different perspectives. Secondary students are required to identify the point of view in a story and justify its use, and such an activity would allow them, not only to be aware of the point of view used, but also experiment with telling the events from a totally different angle. Referring to Bloom’s taxonomy, this activity is placed at the highest level, since it allows the learners to experiment with characterization and plot, and create new scenarios. Of course, a good variation would be to ask the students to act out the dialogue or the scene they have written or produce a storyboard.
While our trainer was presenting the possible pre-, while- and post-reading activities for ‘The Wolf’s Tale’, one of our colleagues made an interesting comment. He said that whenever it comes to stories, he finds that he does not teach it in such creative ways. My immediate response was ‘it is your choice!’. Indeed, for many reasons, language teachers have fears to give up teaching stories using old-fashioned methods. They are usually obsessed with assessment and worry a lot about the way their students will perform in exams.
(*) The questions are:
1. Why is the boy sitting outside the principal’s office?
2. Why is the pink bow tie amusing?
3. Who sees the boy sitting outside the principal’s office?
4. What does the principal say to the boy?
5. What excuse does the boy give to the principal?
6. What happens to the pink bow tie?