Draw, Tell, Write and Read

The ACIE Newsletter, November 1997, Vol. 1, No. 1

By Maureen Curran-Dorsano, 3rd Grade Teacher
Normandale French Immersion School, Edina, MN



What are best practices? They are teaching strategies/activities/lessons that meet three basic criteria: they have been "test-driven" a number of times and have been proven to be effective; they have measurable learner outcomes that can be met successfully by a broad range of students; and the entire process--planning, preparation of materials, classroom activities, etc. -- are all manageable.

In the second language classroom, best practices are often those that integrate the four language skills. One of the best activities I have ever tried is what I call "Draw, Tell, Write and Read." Below is a four-day lesson plan for my third grade immersion class. It could be done in fewer days, but it is essential that students retell the story a number of times. They should know the story by heart before attempting to write it.

Description of Activity

This activity integrates listening, speaking, reading and writing. Over a four-day period, students listen to a story, reconstruct it orally with the help of drawn clues, then write it. When finished, groups will exchange their stories to read.

Day 1:

  • The teacher tells a story, using a "story map" as a memory aid.
  • Students reconstruct the story, as a group, as the teacher redraws the story map.
  • Individual students are invited to reconstruct the story, drawing and telling one element each.
  • In pairs, students reconstruct the story, drawing and telling alternating sentences.

Day 2:

  • Repeat the last step above as review.
  • As a class, make a vocabulary board (important nouns, verbs, adjectives, and prepositional phrases). Students record vocabulary into their notebooks.

Days 3 & 4:

  • Draw and tell the story all together to review.
  • In small groups, students write the story in its entirety, each student being responsible for three or four sentences.
  • Students edit their sentences by checking their own, then a partner's writing against the vocabulary board.
  • Students illustrate their sentences, based on the sketches made during the retelling. They bind the pages together to make a book.
  • Groups practice reading their finished story, then exchange stories with another group.

Here is a simple story you can use early in the year. The bracketed words are the things you sketch as you tell the story. Use just enough detail in your drawing to get the point across. Use colors only where indicated.


Story: A Day at the Park

Today I visited the park. Right in the middle of the park I saw a [huge oak tree]. The [leaves] were [golden yellow] and [falling from the branches]. A [little gray squirrel] with a [bushy tail] was busy gathering [nuts]. To the right of the tree was a [small pond]. There were [four lily pads] floating on the pond. And on one lily pad sat a [big green frog]. On the other side of the tree was a [park bench]. No one was on it, so I sat down and ate my [red apple]. It was a great way to spend the day!


Listening comprehension: Are all the elements drawn correctly? Is the pond on the right side of the tree? Are there four lily pads,? etc. Are all the sentences accounted for?

Speaking: As you circulate, check to see if each student is able to reconstruct the story with a partner.

Writing: You may or may not insist on 100% accuracy, but at least the words from the vocabulary board should be spelled correctly. Punctuation and capitalization are also checked.

Reading: Can students read their finished story, including parts written by their teammates?




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