This is a fantastic idea developed by Michele Whaley and Laurie Clarcq (here is the link to Michele’s original post about the activity). It is a different way of illustrating a story, and I like it because it sets up students really well for speaking and writing assessments. It is also a great way to think critically about the story and consider the differences between main ideas/plot points and details. Students can do this activity on their own after they’ve practiced it a few times (this works as a listening comprehension activity, since you can see how much they understood), or you can work on it as a class (which is great for the discussion that it produces).
Begin by deciding what the most basic plot points are in the story. Most of the stories that we tell in my class are based around a similar event that repeats itself three times in three different situations. Therefore, these plot points are usually ‘goes to X’, ‘goes to Y’, ‘goes to Z’. Students illustrate these three plot points in the top row of a piece of paper that they’ve divided into a grid or this form that I created (in French and Spanish).
In rows below each major plot point, students illustrate any additional details about that plot point. Often, the pictures in each row will be similar because, as I said, our stories are repetitive.
In the example of the story ‘Buscando un animal doméstico‘, the rows might look like this:
- Goes to place X, Y, Z
- Sees animal X, Y, Z
- Animal X, Y, Z, and main character look at each other
- Character wants and walks toward animal X, Y, Z
- Action of animal/reaction of person
As I said, this is nice for a speaking or writing assessment because it is easy to see how deep students are able to go with their explanation of what happened in the story. They could be stuck at the top level (and not know any of the target terms for the story), able to add in sporadic details from different moments in the story, or able to recount the story exactly as it happened in great detail. It is quite easy to determine the student’s level of proficiency using this prop.