Learning toTell A Story: A Max Update

  The most recent speech therapist discharged Max.  She said that, more than speech therapy, he needs to get out into the world and experience communication.  But she's willing to have me email her for consultations, and
one of the particulars she recommended is telling jokes.
  It is one of the things we do to socialize with each other.


   One skill you need before you can tell a joke is to be able to remember it in words.  The word-finding is Max's greatest problem.
  Back when, one of Max's teachers gave me the yellow book above. The subtitle is, Stories for Listening and Discussion.https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/just-joking-sandra-heyer/1111974714  
i think the idea was that her students weren't at a stage to be able to USE the lessons.  Certainly Max wasn't in, ?2012, but it seems worthwhile now.


  The book's eightteen stories are presented with a context of additional lesson material.  
  • The first page is an introduction to the story, usually some questions and/or information about the topic, and a teaser for the story.
  • On the second page we see the story in cartoon strip form.  In the back, for the teacher, are both a script and a CD with the text.  (The CD in our copy didn't work.)  The instructions are to listen and follow along.
  • Next is a choices exercise.  The sentence offers two words in parentheses for the learner to choose between.  For example, (not from this book):  Thomas is a (tank engine, tender engine).
  • The next section is filling in minimal blanks from the dialog. Two columns present a simplified version of the story's dialog, and students are to partner up to read it together.
  • Then is the entire (simplified) story, with instructions to cover the sentences and write, checking when needed.  The introduction provides alternatives for increasing or decreasing the difficulty.
  • The students are next instructed to write the story using keywords and again tell it to a partner.
  • The last page of the lesson expands the concepts of the story.  For example, Max chose one called "At the Barbershop," in which a young man attempts to ask his manicurist on a date. Not only was there A GIRL in the story, there was no haircut. For this story, the last page encourages discussion about giving and responding to invitations, including polite ways to turn down an invitation.

The Story

  As i said, i let Max choose which one from the table of contents. When i do this again, i'll suggest three or four stories, not all of them.   Max chose "At the Barbershop," thinking haircut situations.
  He strongly disliked the story.  It has a girl! The guy wants to spend time with a girl!  Max kept insisting on changing the story.  The girl couldn't go because she was going out with her girlfriend.  Without commenting on what the characters might have had in mind, it simply didn't work for the story: She refused by saying our protagonist should himself ask her boyfriend about her going out with another guy, since he was shaving the client at the moment.
  Max was upset at the idea of dating.

Pushing On. . . .

  We did continue with a couple of the exercises, but stopped soon.
  The next day, we got out his Thomas storybook and started with his choice of story from that table of contents.  (a perenniel philosophy of mine: go with the student's interest.)

Take 2

  As we follow the format of Heyer's lessons with Thomas, a couple of things have surprised me, or at least seemed worthy of noting:
  • The story Max chose is Thomas Saves the Day, more typically known as Thomas and the Breakdown Train"Saving the Day" is a very important concept to Max.
  • Max has enjoyed the sessions we've had so far with this story, eagerly trying to get the words right.  He doesn't exhibit this much eagerness with other homework type sessions.
  • In trying to retell the story, we've worked together to find keywords and sentences.  He came up on his own with the line, "Thomas want to help," which i hadn't considered significant enough to add

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