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What a Story!

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We believe that story-writing is a useful and challenging activity. Lower level students, however, usually find it too difficult. So we have devised a number of strategies to make the task easier and the effort worthwhile.

Warm up activity

Dictate the following words and ask students to guess what the relationship is: pen, pencil, rubber, time, comfortable chair, paper, imagination, inspiration. Students should realize they are things a writer needs.

Stage One

Elicit "author" and ask the following questions:

- Has anybody got a favourite author?
- Have you got a favourite book?

In pairs, students talk to each other about their favourite book/story or about the last one they read.

Stage Two

Elicit "genre" or story type. Then, stick up cards with the names of different genres printed on them around the room (i.e. Love Story, Detective Story, Adventure, Historical, Science Fiction, Horror.) Ask students to stand up, walk around, and stand under their favourite genre. Tell the students that they are going to write a story of the genre they are standing under, and as they are grouped. New groups sit together.

Elicit elements of a story (i.e. Protagonist, Plot, Background.) Give out a grid to each group to fill in. This should contain the following boxes: GENRE / PROTAGONIST (with the following data to fill in: Sex/Name/Age/Nationality/Job/Physical Description/Character Description)/ BACKGROUND (stds. should choose a Time and a Place for their story) and PLOT SUMMARY. At this point you could give out dictionaries and allow groups to work independently.

Students begin writing their stories as a group. The teacher monitors and helps where necessary. Then, students take their stories home and each member of the group finishes it in his/her own way.

Stage Three

Group members read each others´ stories and comment on any mistakes they see. Then they agree/vote on the best. This could mean taking the best parts out of more than one story and putting them together.

Students could be given dictionaries at this stage and be allowed to "polish up" the chosen story. The teacher goes round the different groups to make sure, discreetly, that the most obvious errors are corrected.

When the final version is decided on, the teacher takes them in and for the next class photocopies them, making a "booklet" for each student to take away and read at home. If the school has a magazine, the stories could be printed in it, or stories could be displayed on a noticeboard for other classes to admire.

Joan M Diez
Helen Loni
Amposta, Tarragona (Spain)
[email protected]

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