How story scripts work

I have received several questions lately about how to use my story scripts, so I figured it was about time that I wrote a post about it!

When I introduce the target structures for each formal script, I follow a fairly rigid structure.

First, I write the structure on the board in Spanish with a black marker. Students repeat it. Then, I write the English translation on the board with a blue marker and explain the meaning. We repeat the structure and translation a few times with some call and response, and I add a small sketch of the meaning with a red marker. I also point out any grammatical components of the structure that I want to highlight, and mark them with a green marker. (For example, I would use green to underline these parts of habla – s/he talks so that students would see that the -a ending means s/he.) Finally, we create a gesture for the structure. I repeat the process for each of the (typically) three target structures.

Then, students get individual whiteboards, and I throw the practice sentences up on the board in Spanish. They must be sentences that students can translate, so I am careful to choose only structures and terms that students already know in Spanish. The target structure should be the only new structure in each practice sentence. Since the translations are on the board, students are able to translate them. Students write their translations on their individual whiteboards, and when I give a signal, everyone holds them up at the same time. I put up the correct translation, and we move on to the next sentence.

After we finish the practice sentences, I put the questions for individual response on the board and ask students to write their responses on the whiteboard. Depending on how much time is left in the class period, I may save them to use as a Campanada the next day, or you could even assign them as homework.

Next, we move on to the personalized questions for class discussion. There are exactly what the title describes: questions for the whole class to discuss. Sometimes, I use them in a Campanada so that students have already formulated a response when it comes time to discuss the answers, but other times they hear the question for the first time in the discussion. This part (hopefully) takes a long time because we get a good discussion going!

Finally, we begin the story. The story script is meant to be used as a guide to ask the story: it is not meant to be read to or by the students. When I post scripts, the target structures are in bold, and the variables are underlined. Variables are the components of the story that are meant to be “asked” instead of told; the details that are decided by the students. The rest of the story, the plain text, should be told and circled, but it is (somewhat) important to keep it to what I’ve written so that the story follows a line that includes all of the target structures.

After the story is asked, you can begin to do all of the follow-up reading and re-telling activities.

8 comments

  1. Martina: How many stories do you get through in a year for each level? For instance, how many for Spanish I and how many for Spanish II?

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    • Once I finally get my timing down (each year I get closer!), I will do about 24 stories and one novel in Spanish A and 16 stories and two novels in Spanish B. Together, those two courses compose “Spanish 1”, although they end up covering Spanish 2 material (past tense) as well since they are both full-year courses.

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  2. Hola,
    I’m a little confused. I don’t understand what kind of “readings” you’re talking about. Obviously the reading aspect is very important since it’s tpRs, but when I went to the stories activities page, I didn’t really see much about reading, mostly just artistic (which is still great!) types of roundup activities. I’d appreciate it if you could help me clear up the confusion. Thanks so much!!

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    • The story activities archive is for activities that you can use to interact with a story (once it has been asked). The readings to which I refer here can be ANY short text that a teacher prepares to give students textual repetitions of the target structures. It could be a typed version of the story that was created by the class, a different version of the same story, or a completely different text that still uses the target structures and is completely comprehensible to students. As long as it is a written text that highlights the target structures and that students can understand, the possibilities are endless!

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