In this post, Anna Llongueras and I introduce different strategies for classroom management that allow us to work around storytelling.
Organizing storytelling is important in order to assure that the stories became meaningful for the students. As teachers, it is important that we create a relaxed atmosphere. One dynamic to do this is to get in a semicircle so that everyone can hear and listen correctly to the teacher. The teacher must have rehearsed the story before explaining it so that she can constantly observe the students and their reactions as they explain the story. It is also very important that teachers pause the story to leave space for reflections or questions.
Using audio-visual aids
Listening to a story in a foreign language help students to understand better the content of the story. The use of visual and audio support are good allies to promote a child’s comprehension and enjoyment of stories. Some of the support tools are the next ones:
Add an air of authenticity to the story and make the details of a story more accessible to all children. One example is wearing real clothes matching with characters of the story.
Puppets can be used by the teacher when telling the story to produce short dialogues or retell the story themselves. One example is telling the story ‘Three little pigs’ using three pigs, a wolf, and three houses puppies.
They are a very useful visual resource. It is important that they are large enough so all the students are able to see them.
- Moveable pictures/magnet boards
It is very useful with stories with repeating sequences so it can be repositioned quickly showing movement and action. For example, in the story Brown Bear, Brown Bear…, where the scene can be gradually built up in front of the children’s eyes. Example: Brown Bear, Brown Bear…
The use of masks can encourage children to do their own dialogues, playing to miming activities, or creating new stories. It can be made by the teacher o the children. For example, they can represent one story (Ex. The Lion King) using their own masks: one is the lion king, the other a hyena, an elephant, etc.
- Written captions/speech bubbles
It is very useful in order to illustrate the storytelling so it facilitates to relate the pictures of characters with their appropriate speech. It can be used for picture-matching exercises, sequencing, or classifying activities. For example, in storytelling they have some bubbles and some characters and they have to relate them to organize a story.
Sounds effects are also very effective to approach storytelling to children. Audio support is effective to understand the readings while they enjoy the storytelling experience. Many stories contain specific sounds or onomatopoeias that children can vocalize or imitate. Some examples of this are the sound of wind whooshing, the sound of water dripping, and some animal sounds. However, we can also use our voice to illustrate some characters.
Using learning technologies
The use of new technologies in the classroom as a way to accompany the reading experience might seem, at first, somewhat controversial. On many occasions, the centers have spoken about the use and abuse of ICTs and, as such, the line between good use and abuse must be kept in mind. However, we are aware that ICT adds a very important dimension to stories, which allow us to motivate students to learn. The key is to include them correctly in our educational practices. Some concrete approaches are introduced.
Using digital video / film allow students to go from being passive into active viewers. This is because the lesson was based on a film as a very appropriate way to accompany the tasks that are done around a story. Some good examples of this are:
- Animated stories. For instance, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
- Documentaries. There are some good BBC documentaries. One good example is World of Wildlife.
- Rhymes and songs. They can be traditional or innovative songs and rhymes. Some examples are Baby shark or One a bicycle built for two.
- Making video recordings: For the children is very motivating to watch themselves doing something related to a story. For instance: acting out, doing a role, sing a specific song. etc. Apart from that. Recording videos is a very good way to assess some activities (teacher assessment and self-assessment). Also, these records can be integrated into story-based lessons. One example is Where is the spot? at the point where a dog is searching for a spot in some house furniture.
Next, we will present the three stages that should be followed to adequately treat a story in a digital format:
- Stage 1. Before viewing. It is important to take some considerations before viewing the record: contextualize the film, ask for previous knowledge, encourage children to predict answers, and explain the topic of the film.
- Stage 2. While viewing. It is important to be able to pause the video to focus students’ attention on specific points to be able to questions their previous answers.
- Stage 3. After viewing. It is important that after viewing the film that students being able to complete their previous questions and if it is necessary to complete with some extra information.
Computers, tablets, and mobiles
The use of websites is highly recommended as a way to complement the lessons we give in class. To access the websites We can use computers, tablets or mobiles. But it is very important to keep in mind certain recommendations such as that the teacher has to know the web that is accessed well and, also, against technical support, in case there is any problem with the connection. It is also very important that students understand the use of computers, tablets, and mobiles as technical elements that allow us to learn, not as a time to play. The text proposes a three-stage methodology to ensure a productive session:
- Stage 1. Before the computer/tablets/mobile’s session. It is important to establish group rules such as children working together taking turns. Regarding the teacher, she has to checked rules the computers. But also, she has to plan the session: introduce some vocabulary and structures, contextualize work, encourage students to focus on the topic, explain the purpose, and integrates the digital advice in the overall lesson plan.
- Stage 2. The computer/tablets/mobiles session: teachers have to check that children know the rules, stay on the desk, and are being helped in case they needed.
- Stage 3. After the session. Teachers must assure that students complete the work an evaluation sheet and display their work or publish it in the class blog. It is important that the teacher review what was done.
Audio recordings of stories
There are some stories that also exist in CD-ROM or DVD. These recording stories can be used to extend or complete the story-telling presented in the classroom. It is very useful to add some specific activities related by the story. Some of them could be clicking on to the various objects on the main screen so the story-related language can be extended or consolidated.
Websites for creating story gap-fills
It is a program that allows us to create exercises around the storytelling and can be used with beginners and high-level students. One example of that is Web Sequitur, a text reconstruction program where a short text is obliterated on screen and each letter is replaced by a blob. So, children can reconstruct the text by inputting the single words. For example, use a text of The odd egg to consolidate language and content introduced in some previous lessons.
This allows them to practice their writing skills and create materials for their works. A good resource is Story Writer a guided story word-processing package for the little ones.
The Net is a very useful tool for research topics for story-based lessons. However, as teachers, it is very important that we protect our students. As a matter of fact, it is a must to use a child-safe engine to protect their searches (f.e. Ask for children child-safe). Teachers also have to supervise children, visit sites before using them with students, and have some sites on-screen before the lesson. One example of internet use is to ask some questions and give children 15 minutes in order to search the question on the website. Then, they can discuss the information and put their answers on a sheet.
Creating an inclusive environment
An inclusive learning environment is one where all children are welcome, treated with respect, and provided with equal opportunities. Each learner is supported in the process of reaching their full potential in a stimulating, rewarding, and safe environment. Teachers and children collaborate with each other, and there is a partnership between teachers and parents.
All children will benefit from working together in inclusive classes as they will learn with and from each other. They will also develop empathy and an understanding of differences as well as a positive understanding of themselves and others.
Teaching strategies for inclusion
Effective teaching strategies include the planning and stating of clear learning aims so children know what is expected from them. Classroom routines are well-established to give children a sense of security, and effective behaviour management ensures a structured and calm learning atmosphere. Regular recycling and reviewing after each activity cycle followed by a general review at the end of each lesson will also help children perceive their progress and maintain their motivation. Other teaching strategies include:
- Differentiating and adapting tasks
This involves adapting tasks to take account of the diverse learning needs in your class. Tasks can be adapted according to input, output, and the resources that are used within an activity. The tasks can be matched to the needs of the child by varying the kind of input. The cognitive demands of a task also need to be considered carefully. A matching task using words and pictures is usually easier than sequencing or classifying tasks without pictures. To cater to different needs and levels you can also vary the outcome or result of the task by considering factors such as if the task is guided or freer.
This involves adapting tasks to accommodate a range of learning styles. The more channels we use in teaching, the more likely we are to help children learn. It is important to be aware of the three sensory modes and to plan to integrate them every day into your teaching to ensure that classroom activities and materials meet a range of styles. For example:
- A visual learner: will prefer to have information presented via pictures or charts.
- An auditory learner: will benefit from listening to stories or rhythms.
- A kinaesthetic learner will prefer actions such as hands-on learning experiences.
Storybooks provide a multisensory learning experience as children are involved in listening to the story while they look at beautiful illustrations. The teacher can also make use of storytelling techniques and engage children to participate.
- Using a variety of resources
The story notes suggest using story props. These can be built up gradually and include realia and aids produced by you and by the children. Keep any story props, audio-visual aids, or examples of children’s in a clearly labeled envelope or container for ready access.
- Enhancing the classroom environment
This involves considering how the space in your classroom can be enhanced to accommodate children’s individual needs. A carefully planned classroom environment can enhance feelings of belonging, success, and self-esteem.
- Managing pair and group work effectively
Children can work in pairs with the child beside them or the teacher may like the children to choose their own pairs or groups. Alternatively, the teacher can choose the group composition to decide which children will work best together. The teacher may organize children into groups according to their level or with different learning needs and ensure and it is useful to negotiate certain ground rules with children.
The teacher’s preparation for independent learning in small groups is very important. Most activities such as games and information gaps require some demonstration or modeling by the teacher. Instructions for tasks should be clearly explained and written instructions should consist of short, simple sentences that are clearly numbered.
If the teacher allows free choice in activities, a careful record needs to be made of the work that has been done. This will help the teacher to keep track of the work covered.
- The teacher’s role in group work
Group work should be set up so that you are free to monitor the groups and provide support for individuals. You will also need to provide some form of feedback about the groups’ activities to your class. Correction of any problem-solving activities or written work can either be done by the children, or by the teacher.
Displaying children’s work
It can be very motivating for children to display their work and it often encourages higher standards of output, develops self-esteem, and builds the class community. Displays also make the classroom more inspiring and can encourage a purposeful working atmosphere. Displays can take many forms and might include models, pictures, or posters, among others.
When setting up a display following points have to be kept in mind: Work at children’s eye-level, titles and lettering should be large and attractive, stick pictures, ensure that all the children have something on display and write children’s names on displayed work. It is a good idea to link artwork with written work in the form of a display. For example, if children do some writing about witches, mount the work on to a cut-out shape of a witch hat.
Organizing a book corner
The following tips may be useful for anyone wanting to set up a book corner: A bookcase or shelving, plants, a carpet, and cushions will make the book corner cozy, involve your children in the organization and maintenance of the book corner, or decorate the corner with any artwork.
As far as possible, allow children to have open access to the book corner. If your children can borrow books, you will need to devise a lending system. The book corner monitors/librarians can take responsibility for checking that books are returned on time. It is useful for the children to keep a personal record of books they have looked through or borrowed. At the end of a school term or year, they can collate the results.
Effective organization and imaginative display in your book corner both play a vital role in helping your children develop a positive attitude towards books, reading, and the foreign language.
This is the link to our Prezi presentation: