I started a new thing yesterday, since I have a thing for new things. I started a collaborative story series on Instagram!

Well, first I joined Instagram. Then I realized that there is a whole Instagram culture that I don’t understand at all. Then my kids woke up and wanted to draw, so we grabbed our favorite Usborne Learn to Draw books (Big Drawing Book, Step by Step Drawing Book, Step by Step Drawing People Book — we order them through my friend Andrea). Then Leland and I drew a sweet picture and accompanying story. Then Millie spilled water on our picture and Elsie started eating it…

Well later that day, I returned to Instagram and tried to figure it out again, and as I was doing so, our picture caught my eye. “Ah-ha!” I thought, why not do with Instagram just what I do with my kids at home and what I did with my students in class?

So that’s what I am doing! I’ve got a few professional passions burning right now; one of course for equipping teachers to make the (scary!) jump to comprehension based methods successfully. The other is to get more reading materials into the hands of students with budding proficiency. I do this in quite a few ways: I share some things and sell others (El Mundo en tus manos, Lecturas Diarias, etc.). I launched Revista Literal in the fall, and it is really starting to take off (66 students submitted stories in December!). And now I’m launching #somoscuentos on Instagram! SOMOS means “we are” in Spanish, and it is the name of my Levels 1 & 2 curriculum. And ‘cuentos’ means ‘stories’ in Spanish, so put it together and you get “We are stories”–which seems to me an existential statement worth pondering!

I would love for you and your students to join me. My vision is for it to be a simple, fun way for students to interact with the language outside of class. It will also be an opportunity for YOU–the teacher–to see how you can ask a collaborative story…since, after all, there is no substitute for stories.

Come join me! This will be fun!

7 replies on “Somos cuentos // We are stories

  1. What about adults on their way to visit the country for the first time? I am scared to do stories with them.
    They want travel language. Has anyone done stories with travel language for grown ups? They don’t get it that it works. They roll their eyes at the idea. Well, Not really, but almost.
    So I switch gears. We just meet just once a week. And there are no books in my language. Not really … there is a Poor Ann and Byron wants a Dog. But they are juvenile. Perfect for kids but not these doctors and lawyers. I feel like my hands are tied. The circling with balls is good for small talk but doesn’t touch on travel talk. They seem to believe that studying the exact phrases they need is on topic and anything else is straying. If story making is really the best but we have no readers, and meet 90 minutes just once a week, what would you do?

    1. I would consult with Elissa McLean of Express Fluency or Karen Rowan of Fluency Fast. Both have been hired to work with groups of professionals and I am sure could speak into your situation!

  2. Hello Martina~

    First I want to say how much I always appreciate your fresh ideas and enthusiasm for student engagement! I have am one of such teachers you are speaking about who has yet to make the scary jump to comprehensible based methods. I think I have fears that the parents will think I am not teaching enough Spanish or that I don’t have time right now to change my curriculum (my current position right now has me split between ESOL support and Spanish 1 & 2). This is the skepticism in my mind as I am reading your great idea about #SOMOSCUENTOS…How do you keep students from zipping over to Spanishdict or even worse, Google Translate, to post a long in-comprehensible response to your story prompt? What would you say to encourage autonomy?

  3. Hi Martina, I love the idea of developing stories in the classroom… imagination is so creative and will get the students themselves involved in developing material they feel is relevant.
    Regards. Marie.

  4. Love using Instagram as a way to engage students in stories and things that are relevant. For any French teachers reading this great blog, Catherine Ousselin has great images on Instagram in French for her classes. My students are in MS, so many of them still don’t have, or parents don’t want them on, social media, so I follow myself. If interested, check her instagram – mvhsfrancais for more ideas, too.

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