Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Hip-Hip Huzzah!

I woke up yesterday morning, looked out the window and started to get a little worried because we had planned a field trip for our afternoon lesson and it had been raining relentlessly since the previous day. But the skies cleared and seven learners (and one teacher who has been observing the class) were waiting at the library when I got there.

We took a stroll past Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell (we are SO lucky!) and made our way into a little mini-park nearby.  There on a bench was a storyteller with no audience, so we stepped up and asked him to tell us a story.  He did a little friendly banter with us first and found out where everyone was from (Vietnam, Greece, Angola, Algiers, Bulgaria, Iran, and Bangladesh), then proceeded to give a dramatic telling of a bit of history that occurred nearby.  I have sat at this bench and heard the story before ... it is prepared speech, not extemporaneous, so it is very good for the activities planned below.  (I'd like to note that there was also free speech with the storyteller before and after his performance, a bonus!)

Storyteller on the left, this man is recruiting us!
My intention was to return to the meeting room after this for some activities around our listening experience.  I would ask the learners to break into groups (3 or 4) and work together to reconstruct as much of the 5-minute story as they could remember.  They would write their versions on the board and we would work together to tidy the language up, if needed (perhaps comparing the way language was used in both stories and choosing the more effective).  We would note any discrepancies between the two narratives.  Finally, we would listen to a recording of the original tale to find the resolution to any discrepancies and note even more effective uses of language or new words.

Well, that was my intention ... but we ended up being recruited into the Continental Army, drilling with (fake) muskets, charging a group of tourists with (imaginary) bayonets, shouting "Huzzah!" a lot, and marching to Independence Hall for a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence!  It happens that tourists are roped into this activity twice a day and we were in the right place at the right time.  The group was game for the adventure, so I bagged the planned activities.

Off we march to our drills and so forth!
Tomorrow, our meeting room will be closed so if the weather is good, we're going to go out and seek another storyteller.  Maybe we can sit under a shade tree in a park and do an abbreviated version of the lesson plan (skip the boardwork) after we hear the story.  Fingers crossed for a pleasant day!

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