A couple of years ago, my 7th grade students and I had a lot of fun with our first official storyasking session. We were just a few weeks into the year and they didn’t have much language under their belts yet, but they were enjoying the learning process and excited by how much they could understand through comprehensible input.
We had spent a day or two working on language around ordering food in a café or restaurant as part of a preliminary unit to ramp up the year. I use this mini-unit as a way to introduce basic greetings and phrases of politeness, as well as cultural practices around going to restaurants and communicating with people out in society in the French-speaking world. (As I wrote in my last post, there are some compelling reasons why targeting input like this might not be the best way to go, but at this point I am still working with thematic units).
My students and I created gestures for vocabulary like please, thank you, you’re welcome, and waiter/waitress. We had established meaning for subject pronouns and words like goes and says in previous class sessions. After having some fun with TPR-type activities, I decided we were ready to launch into a story. I asked the students for suggestions about who the subject of our story should be, and we landed on the character Sofia the First, a princess from a show on Disney Junior. (Middle schoolers still love little kid stuff, don’t they?). I then asked the class what Sofia liked to eat, and they decided she liked to eat hot dogs. From these two pieces of information, we had our story!
Following the standard Blaine Ray TPRS format, we had Sofia go to three locations to find her hot dog. We shared a lot of joy in class that day as we giggled together about Sofia and her hot dog. I was so pleased with how much my students could understand at that early stage in the school year. We were off to a good start with stories! After class that day, I typed up the story and pasted in a little picture of Sofia the First that I found online. I made half-sheet copies and gave one to each student the next day, so they could follow along with the words as I re-read the story to the class. I also made a few extra copies to keep in a folder for FVR and to use with future classes.
Here is the text of our story, so you can add it to your own FVR library if you like! I’ve included the French version and the English translation, in case yours is a different target language.
L’histoire de Sofia the First
Il y a une fille. Elle s’appelle Sofia the First. Sofia est princesse. Elle est sociable, intelligente, sympa, et polie. Elle va au restaurant. Le restaurant est en Angleterre. Le restaurant est Starbucks. À Starbucks, Sofia dit, «Bonjour, monsieur. Comment ça va?» au serveur. Le serveur dit, «Bonjour, mademoiselle. Bien, et vous?» Sofia dit, «Ça va bien. Un hot-dog, s’il vous plaît.» Le serveur dit, «Non, mademoiselle. Il y a un problème. Il n’y a pas de hot-dog à Starbucks.» Pauvre princesse! Elle est triste, mais elle est polie. Elle dit, «Merci, monsieur.» Il répond, «Je vous en prie, mademoiselle.»
Alors, Sofia va à Mongolian Grill. Elle dit à la serveuse, «Bonjour, madame.» La serveuse dit, «Bonjour, mademoiselle.» Sofia dit, «Un hot-dog, s’il vous plaît.» La serveuse répond, «Non, mademoiselle. Il y a un problème. Il n’y a pas de hot-dog à Mongolian Grill.» Pauvre princesse. Elle est TRÈS triste! Elle ADORE les hot-dogs! Mais, elle est polie. Elle dit, «Merci, madame.» La serveuse répond, «Je vous en prie, mademoiselle.»
Maintenant, Sofia va au Palais Royale. Elle dit, «Bonjour, monsieur,» au serveur. Le serveur dit, «Bonjour, mademoiselle.» Sofia dit, «Un hot-dog, s’il vous plaît.» Le serveur dit, «Oui, mademoiselle. Tout de suite!» Sofia est très heureuse! Le serveur arrive avec le hot-dog. Sofia dit, «Merci beaucoup, monsieur! J’adore les hot-dogs!» Il dit, «Je vous en prie, princesse!»
The Story of Sofia the First
There is a girl. Her name is Sofia the First. Sofia is a princess. She is social, smart, nice, and polite. She goes to the restaurant. The restaurant is in England. The restaurant is Starbucks. At Starbucks, Sofia says, “Hello, sir. How is it going?” to the waiter. The waiter says, “Hello, miss. Well, and you?” Sofia says, “It’s going well. A hot dog, please.” The waiter says, “No, miss. There is a problem. There aren’t any hot dogs at Starbucks.” Poor princess! She is sad, but she is polite. She says, “Thank you, sir.” He responds, “You’re welcome.”
So, Sofia goes to Mongolian Grill. She says to the waitress, “Hello, ma’am.” The waitress says, “Hello, miss.” Sofia says, “A hot dog, please.” The waitress responds, “No, miss. There is a problem. There aren’t any hot dogs at Mongolian Grill.” Poor princess. She is VERY sad! She ADORES hot dogs! But, she is polite. She says, “Thank you, ma’am.” The waitress responds, “You’re welcome.”
Now, Sofia goes to the Royal Palace. She says, “Hello, sir,” to the waiter. The waiter says, “Hello, miss.” Sofia says, “A hot dog, please.” The waiter says, “Yes, miss. Right away!” Sofia is very happy! The waiter arrives with the hot dog. Sofia says, “Thank you very much, sir! I love hot dogs!” He says, “You’re welcome, princess!”
I would encourage anyone who creates class stories to type them up and add them to your class library. They are short and simple, and you can bundle them up into a set of 5 or 10 to create enough material to sustain a student for 10 to 15 minutes of reading. Students especially get a kick out of it when you use the stories they helped create to reinforce learning. By typing up these stories and allowing students to re-read them, you send them the message that what they contribute to the class has value. Then you can round your library out with stories from outside sources, such as this one.
Hope you enjoy this story of Sofia the First as much as I do! If you would like to share one of your own class stories, please feel free to leave a comment or send me a message. We can help each other build our FVR libraries!