Cooperative story building

We now have volunteers in around 20 countries around the world, who are ready to connect to Palestinian and Syrian children for remote storytelling activities. This means that I don’t do so many sessions myself any more (freeing me up to train new volunteers, promote the project at conferences and generally manage everything else )

But I still like to do a few sessions when I can, and these days I’m focussing a lot on activities to help students create stories, rather than just listen to them. Here’s a neat way of doing this which I tried out with a group of Syrian children in Zaatari refugee camp on Sunday.

In the original activity, which I learnt from the Macmillan Education ELT youtube channel, the students were only asked to provide one word at a time. I can see the advantages of this approach. For a start it pushes the learners to really focus on accuracy and to notice each individual word. It’s also a kind of improvisation exercise, encouraging learners to make spontaneous choices.

I used to always do the exercise like this, but on Sunday in Zaatari, it didn’t feel right to make them do it in that way – I think because we’re really trying to encourage this beginners group to break away from single word responses and to speak more extensively. The activity is very simple but I like it a lot because (like all my favourite teaching activities) it combines student creativity with teacher support in the form of  scaffolding and correction.

Would it work in your face to face classes? What other ways do you have to help students create stories? Please share you ideas in the comments below.

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