Using a story-writing approach to create original lesson resources

Original resources may take time, effort, planning and work to set up, but they can be amazing materials for learners to use at school or at home.

Teachers never feel like they have enough time for marking, planning, extra-mural activities and even balancing home and school life. Setting up worksheets is not a top priority anymore and we use what we have, year after year, despite the changes in planning.

I would like to inspire you to create new resources and worksheets and see the value in them whilst integrating themes and weaving work together.

This all starts with planning and having the knowledge of what your class needs to cover within the week.

As I love to teach language, one of the things I decided to do for my class, is to write my own stories using the list of phonics words for the week. I often link a Home Language story to the week’s Life Skills theme. Once I have written the theme-related story (including the 10 phonics words) I decide on four or five new words to teach the learners (which they can find within the story). It is important to consider the grade you are working with and what the curriculum says about the different reading materials they need to be introduced to. It is not necessary to write a new story every week, as you can make use of other texts such as recipes, lists, paragraphs, letters, poems, songs etc.

Once the story is written, I set up a comprehension of the story. The comprehension includes questions about the content, as well as some language-based questions and questions testing their knowledge of their phonics words – overall, this text will test their understanding. The language questions correlate with the specific language aspects that must be covered for the week. For example: Ask the learners to find four verbs in the story or write a sentence in past tense. I find that this is a great place to start because all learners like a story and if you write your own, you can make it relatable to your grade, class or theme. At this stage, I would have taught the learners the new phonics words so they are able to recognise them in the story.

For the older grades, it is quite fun for the learners to make use of dictionaries and find the four or five new words, sharing the meaning whilst doing so. I print the story on an A4 page and place it on the board alongside their phonics words and new words for the week. Then every learner has a story in front of them with the comprehension. You do not have to physically give each learner a worksheet, as you can also choose to write the questions on the board.

I have made use of the story writing approach in Home Language, Additional Language and Mathematics. It is a great way for learners to see how many things can be taken away from a short story. Not only are you able to integrate with other subjects, but you are also able to help learners link knowledge from seemingly unrelated information together.

Again, it is important to note that it all comes down to your planning and what is expected of you to cover for the week. I usually correlate the Mathematics stories with the Life Skills theme for the week. I like to choose an adventure story with Maths, using the learners’ names in my class as the characters in the story. I try to represent a shy learner as brave or smart in the story. Usually, the characters go on an adventure and then have to solve Mathematical problems along the way – which they absolutely love.

I find this to be a gentle way to start a lesson for a learner who might feel nervous about Mathematics. Pictures are fun to add to the story and I often have even drawn my own. The younger learners are especially enthralled with the aesthetics of these stories, which certainly helps them to go along on the “adventure”. In the older grades, you can get the learners in the class to draw pictures to add to the story.

Anyone can write or tell a story and through this approach, I hope you can even inspire your learners to tell and write their own stories. Let your creative minds start working! It takes effort but it makes work fun and relatable to your learners.

This article was written by Emme Scholtz for Teacha! Magazine.

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