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"What's in the box?": The simplicity of storyasking

February 28, 2015

I was painting with my 3yo this morning, and he asked, "Mom, what are you painting?"

"A box"

"What's in the box?"

"What do you think is in the box?"

"A toy"

"What kind of a toy?"

"A toy MONSTER!"

"A toy monster! That sounds scary!"

"No, it's not scary. It's nice."

This short exchange reminded me why I so love storyasking, or, in other words, collective imagining. Whether I'm working from a script or allowing students' imaginations to take us in any direction they conceive, it is just fun to see what they come up with. My sons can spend hours living out an adventure in an imaginary world. Neither the ability nor the desire to "play pretend" vanish with puberty, although practice is sometimes required to dust them off. School is hard--LIFE is hard--for many of our students, and giving them the gift of play for 45 minutes a day is one of the greatest things that we can do for them! Imagining doesn't mean that the stories that students create have to be silly or even unrealistic: it means that the stories have to be theirs. There is nothing quite so satisfying as that magical metacognitive moment when students realize that the story they are creating is being narrated--and they are understanding it--in the target language! Our goal as TPRS®/CI teachers is to provide comprehensible input that is so compelling that students forget that they are learning a language. It's easy to lose sight of that with the politics of education and all of the requirements that are placed on us and imposed upon our curriculum. So why not return to your first love this week with a simple question just to see where it will take you:

"What's in the box?" 

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