There are many activities that can be done while reading a story or a chapter of a TPRS Publishing novel. In my classroom, one thing I try to do is use a variety of activities to try to avoid a monotonous feeling that could cause boredom for students. Often I turn to Pinterest to find ideas that not only have that novelty factor, but that are also CI friendly, because in the end, the novelty is not good enough if the activity does not provide more comprehensible input for my students. All that being said, a few months ago, while doing my frequent Pinterest searching for inspiration, I found the inspiration for the activity I called “Story Quilting” (based on the book the The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco and described on the Teaching Fashionista blog), adapted it, added another step and used it successfully with my students.

As Martina Bex said “We all do activities in which students recall events from a story, paraphrase the major events in a story, and illustrate events in a story”, but in an 80 minute block, I also have to find the activities that get my students up and moving, and this activity gives me just that. With the “Story Quilting” activity, student will be re-reading, drawing (re-reading), writing (re-reading), and searching (while reading), which gives them the opportunity to get more input while… reading!

I used this activity after my students read the last version of Chac Mool written by Kristy Placido for her wonderful “Supernatural Unit”. Here are the steps I used:

  • After students have read the story or chapter, give each student five or six sticky notes, all of them in different colors. Remember, they are “quilting” the story. You can alway give them more sticky notes if you believe that the main events in the story or chapter can not be reduced to five or six drawings. Five to six have always worked for me.IMG_3276
  • Give students a piece of colored construction paper (or ask them to use a sheet of paper from their notebooks), then ask them to attach their sticky notes to the construction paper.
  • After they have their sticky notes on the paper, have students to re-read the story and find the five (or six) most important events. They can do it by highlighting them in the story. At this time, I like to remind them that what they are trying to do is to make sure that someone who has not read the story, can have a good idea of the plot just by knowing this events.
  • Once they have located the most important events, have students draw them in their sticky notes, one event per sticky note. Remind students that the drawing has to be detailed based on what information from the story they are trying to give to their audience. Also, I make sure to mention that stick figures rock, since I always have a handful of students that are ashamed of their artistic abilities. Just an idea, if you want, ask students to draw “stitches” on the outside of each sticky note to give it the look of an actual quilt.
  • When all students are done with their drawings, ask them to pass their work to someone else in the class. I use Bryce Hedstrom’s “Friends from…” maps, and sometimes I ask them to find their friend from a specific country and give the drawings to that person. Sometimes I ask boys to switch with girls, or to switch with someone who has the same eye color as they do, etc. (I try to make this part as novel as possible).
  • Once students have other people’s drawings, I ask them to re-read the story and find the parts that have been illustrated on the five (or six) different sticky notes. Then, students write a sentence or sentences from the story underneath each sticky note.IMG_5103
  • I collect all the pieces of construction paper from all the students as they finish this part of the “Story Quilting” activity. Since some students are always faster than others, and since I want them to actually concentrate on finding the parts of the story that truly describe each drawing, I have a folder with activities for my fast finishers (strategy shared by Martina Bex in her blog) to keep busy while their classmates keep on working.
  • During my prep (or before school, or after school), I take all the sticky notes with the drawings and place them all over my classroom. This step takes a while, so, make sure you plan ahead. You can also recruit some helpers/volunteers if you want to save yourself some time/work.IMG_5104
  • The next day, as I greet my students at the door, I give each one of them one piece of construction paper with the sentences from the story, making sure that nobody gets their own paper. I ask my kids to do nothing with it and work on their bell ringer (while I do all the attendance taking and other classroom procedures).
  • Afterwards, I tell them to read the sentences on the paper and walk around room to find the drawings that go with the five or six excerpts from the story that they have on their individual papers. Whenever they find a match, they have to take the sticky note and place it over the description. And so on and so forth until they have all five or six sticky notes.
  • Students need to bring you the final product for you to check that the drawings really match the excerpt for the story. If one or more does not match, they need to stick them back somewhere in the room and keep on looking (I learned the hard way, I had some kids that needed drawings but none of the ones left where a match, which means that some kids just grabbed sticky notes without really comprehending what they were reading or without really trying). If they all match, the student sits down and works on some fast finisher activities. I collect all the papers.
  • Extra activities: Since I have many drawings from the story, we can use the document camera to review it, I can photocopy some of them and make a listening assessment or a freewrite, I can photocopy them and make a listening bingo activity, etc. With that many drawings for the story, the sky’s the limit in what I can do as follow up.

My students have always enjoyed this activity and have giving me positive feedback about it. I hope yours enjoy it as well.

Nelly Hughes has been teaching Spanish since 2004 and is currently teaching at Benjamin Logan High School in Bellefontaine, OH. She has presented at the state and national conferences on teaching with CI and on how to use music in the language classroom. She has also been a CI/TPRS coach for the past five years. You can follow her on Twitter @nellyanhug or find her on Pinterest with the user name N. Hugand 
  • arlington2000
    Posted at 08:46h, 12 July

    Fantastic ideas! Thank you so much for sharing – I always need new ideas!

  • jennythecar
    Posted at 09:47h, 12 July

    This is so beautiful! Thank you for sharing your experiences and expertise with us. I can’t wait to do this with my students!

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