Quirky Scripts is a lesson requiring almost no prep that can be used repeatedly all year, at every level. It’s also a way for students to acquire “advanced” language really early on with minimal effort. Skim the how-to or scroll down for a dozen reasons these Quirky Scripts are so useful.
Here are the steps:
Step 1: Give students a super short story script (examples below) in their native language and have them fill in the blanks. This takes two minutes and can be done in class or at home. Collect the completed scripts.
______ and ______ were afraid because they were stuck in ____________.
They decided to call ______ for help.
The phone rang ______ times and then exploded.
So they decided just to ________________________.
______ bought a book about ______ because s/he wanted to impress ______.
The book cost ____ dollars, even though it __________________.
The book was…
…amazing and [person 2] gave [person 1] a big _________ /
…terrible and [person 2] punched [person 1] in the _________. (pick one)
Sample 3: (from David Maust)
______ and ______ went on a trip to ____________.
because they wanted to ________________________.
When they got there, they said, “________________________.”
They said this because ______________________________.
Then they began to ______________________________.
(You can find more scripts like this here.)
Step 2: Between sets of the long daily workout you consistently do–or just during a commercial break–skim the completed scripts and pick the one that would be easiest for your students to understand in the target language.
Step 3: Translate the easiest completed script into the target language.
Step 4: Create a simple slideshow that adds the sentences from the translated script one at a time. Add some sweet pictures if you feel like it. I often start by projecting a pertinent picture and talking about with students before revealing the first line.
Step 5: In class, reveal the sentences one at a time, pausing to establish meaning when necessary, Circle, have the class invent extra details, ask the 6 questions, or do whatever else you like to do with stories. Follow up on the same day or another day with post-reading activities, retells, or timed writes.
Step 6: Repeat Steps 3-5 whenever you want (ideally pretty often) using the next-easiest script you collected, and so on.
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Here’s why these Quirky Scripts are so amazing:
- They’re short. It’s pretty much impossible for students to lose attention.
- They’re short. Creating the target language version goes really fast.
- They’re short. You can do a lot with the day’s script or you can just use it as a warmup or transition once students have gotten really used to a particular script outline.
- Because students have seen the script outline in English, they pretty much know what it means when they see it in the TL. By the time they’ve seen the 10th version, they know really well.
- Because students made up the details themselves, they’re interested in what happens.
- Students look forward to their scripts being used. (You don’t have to reveal whose it is. I don’t, but students usually take credit.)
- You can make Quirky Scripts as short or as long as you want. I recommend no fewer than two lines and no more than five.
- You can make them as “easy” or as “hard” as you want. I find them a great way to incorporate language that textbooks consider “advanced” or that come up more often in writing than in speech. Quirky Scripts have helped students in Month 1 of Year 1 become comfortable with language that many traditional programs consider “3rd-year” or “4th-year” content.
- You can translate the same script different ways for different groups. For instance, your target language may have variations on “when they got there” (Sample 3), just as English has “after they had arrived,” “upon arriving,” etc.
- You can carefully plan when to use the completed Quirky Scripts in class, or you can simply keep the stack of completed scripts handy for when you’re especially busy or drained, or for when you have second thoughts about another plan.
- If you teach with TPRS® and a group of students isn’t taking to Storyasking, or has “too much energy” during Storyasking, this use of scripts can channel the energy, boost buy-in, and function as training in Storyasking for both you and your students.
- Once students have interacted with everyone’s version of a particular Quirky Script (this could take months–that’s fine), all the versions of that script can be combined into a booklet for students to read.
- For some Quirky Scripts, such as Sample 3 above, different students’ versions can be combined and edited to create a longer, multi-location story script such as those that often feature in TPRS®. (I got this idea from David Maust, who wrote Sample 3 and sometimes uses it when he’s too busy or drained to plan a story from scratch.)
Note: This use of scripts–having students fill them out in advance and using different students’ versions of the same script as reading material throughout the year–seems so simple that someone else must have written about it already, but I’ve never come across it. My apologies to anyone who has already shared something like this!