Thursday, 19 May 2011

Week 7: Implementing the Change - Production

This week we have started with the project of digital storytelling.  As planned, one class has been working on the remake of 'The Canterville Ghost' by Oscar Wilde and the other on the new episode of Angela Anaconda. The only difference will be in the setting and the puppets. 

So far, I am in two minds about two things.  First of all, two lessons for creating and recording the story will definitely not be enough. Grouping only took up lots of time because I wanted the groups to be heterogeneous with more and less able students distributed equally in order to promote peer learning, and the students had their own preferences which I also wanted to take into consideration. Secondly, I  wonder if the task is too open- ended.  I divided the task into three parts: the beginning when they are to describe their characters by using the stem sentences and the following two parts - the middle (plot) and the end (resolution) - which are open-ended.  I deliberately chose not to guide them through these two parts in order to foster their creativity, but I wonder if their level of English is high enough to write the plot and resolution and present it in the form of a dialogue between the characters.

Up to now,  both classes have been divided into five groups of five or six members, roles have been taken, the puppets and three settings for Angela Anaconda have been made out of shoe boxes  -  the classroom, pizzeria and house (the setting and puppets for 'The Canterville Ghost' are to be made tomorrow), the characters have been presented and some stories have started to unravel.

The first problem will be solved with no difficulty at all - I will add another lesson for completing the project. As regards the second dilemma, it remains to be seen if my students will be able to create coherent stories in good English. I have decided not to interfere much in their work for two reasons. First of all,  this is the first time we are all doing something like this and we need to gain experience how this kind of activity  works out for us. Secondly, the focus of this activity will not be on the language accuracy but rather on students' ability to use the language they have already acquired to come up with something new, and, hopefully,  colourful,  interesting and exciting.


  1. Hi Nada!
    I really liked what you are going through with both your two classes. Wonderful work! I am fond of literature and maybe my opinion would help: first, your choice of Canterville Ghost is perfect I have a copy of the original work and I think it's a great classic that may suit many learning goals. Second, you are very organized working in groups . Eventually you seem to be worried about the students'written production and I understand your fears but I believe that you have to equip the learner with many literary tools since you are suggesting that it's the first time they do this. Producing something about a literary work is something special maybe i recommend they gather information on The writer, his books... a general approach to the settings Oscar Wilde likes, his characters, themes...all these stuff can be done in a webquest or a research they won't take time: internet is there to help!
    so in brief, I am against that you leave students free for the first time! you should make them feel the context of literature, this different linguistic product, guide them and give them some hints and clues may be very beneficial and offer a great potential!
    You are leading a great work!
    Khaled hafdhi, Tunisia

  2. Hello Nana,

    I am surprised that you’ve already asked your students to engage in activities. It’s a great start and I really envy that you can take it into practical.

    Now, I am fully stressful because I am still running all my official work and always have substitute to help my class. However, hope I can be on time and ready for you to check my draft.
    However, as a partner, I am care about our contact and connection, so then I noticed your concern and also I agree with what Khaled’s suggestion. I am not sure about your students’ level, but after I read your procedure of running activities, I feel that your students’ English level is quite high. As you said, there are lots of open-ended questions. I then agree with Khaled that we need to provide students more information, format and instruction to follow. As the “scaffolding” ideas, much guide for the beginning learners is essential and important. So, what do you think? Great work and good start! Keep going!


  3. Hello Khaled and Rachel.

    Thank you so much for sharing my concerns. You are both absolutely right, there is no question about that. But, this time, I just had to take a risk. My students were provided all the necessary information, instruction, format and even structure in the beginning part, but any guidance on the writing content would hinder their creativity and lead to five identical stories with some variations.

    On Friday, some of my doubts were dispelled. The class working on Angela Anaconda produced some coherent and amazing stories! It seems that the group leaders did their job really well in helping the others and I had to correct their plays in literally only a couple of places where there was a danger of obscured meaning. I heard them using L1 when deciding on the story concept, but when it came to writing a dialogue, they did just great. The delivery was not that good though, but some more practice will tackle this, I hope. I can hardly wait to record them on Wednesday and publish the stories.

    It remains to be seen if the other class will be as successful. I will not see them till Tuesday and then I will have the insight of their accomplishment. Let's hope for the best.

    In the future I will definitely go for less open-ended assignments and create tasks of more limited scope. This might be a good opportunity for me to see where we stand and what I can expect from my students.