Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Teacher Idea: Stories For Others

Thanks to Kevin for another interesting installment in our Teacher Ideas series.

Stories For Others, by Kevin Lathrop

Adriana’s story happened about seven years ago. She and a group of friends, all between twenty-two and twenty-seven, planned a camping trip in the mountains. The first six departed for their destination on a Friday. The other six followed on Sunday. Both rode buses over treacherous, switchback roads. Those in the second group died en route. Three buses plummeted in a single accident, and everyone on board perished. The buses were never found. Silvia and her friends who traveled safely on Friday didn't get the news until Monday. The survivors were very sad and performed a ceremony at their camp in the mountains for their lost companions.

Manuel’s story happened a long time ago, about fourteen years ago. When he first came to New York, he felt the big difference between this city and his hometown in Ecuador. His brother came to the airport to pick him up. It was a nice day, but the next morning his brother and others had to go to the work. They left Manuel the keys and told him to relax. Manuel got bored and went out, making sure to remember the building number. When he returned from his walk, he could not find the building. He looked and looked and became increasingly frantic, to the point of wanting to return to Ecuador immediately. He finally went into a store, found someone who spoke Spanish, borrowed a telephone and called his family in his hometown. His sister answered and asked where he was. She explained that his brother was looking everywhere for him. When the two brothers reunited, Manuel was told to be careful next time. “You are in New York, not on a farm,” his brother said.

Milagros’ story is about a friend named Tommy. Ten years ago he was working in a building. When he finished for the day, the elevator got stuck. At that moment, no one could help. After ten minutes, Tommy yelled for help. His coworker heard his shouts and came to help. Tommy couldn't get out immediately because it was necessary to first turn off the power in the elevator. He was in total darkness. In fact, electricity was out in the whole city. It was the night of the Blackout. Even his cell phone didn't work. He felt fear. After twenty minutes, with the aid of the coworker, Tommy managed to regain his freedom. He crossed the Manhattan Bridge on foot. As he was walking, he heard a voice calling him. He turned, looked and saw it was his uncle, who he hadn't seen in five years. The uncle was driving across the bridge and offered Tommy a ride home. The experience reported to Milagros was scary, but it ended well.

Winnie’s story was about her neighbor. Two years ago she and a group of friends in her building encountered a vexing problem. There was a bakery on the second floor of the building where she lived. One man always collected rice and pieces of bread to feed the birds. For that reason, there were always pieces of bread and grains of rice on the lawn. Winnie wrote a note advising him not to do that, but the note didn't help. Something else Winnie hated about that neighbor was that he always waited by the mailbox for the letters to come. One afternoon Winnie checked the mailbox for her family and found one. The same evening her husband checked and discovered three letters. Winnie suspected the bird-feeding neighbor collected the letters and inspected them.  One day she waited around the mailbox and saw the neighbor taking out letters and asked him if all the letters he held were his. He said yes and closed the door quickly. Winnie talked to the landlord about the situation. The landlord said there had been many complaints from other residents about the annoying bird-feeding letter-inspecting neighbor, and a year later he terminated his lease. Winnie and friends felt better. 

Story telling is a great way to tap into the infinite creative potential of language and involve students in their own learning, thus maximizing it.

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