25 March 2016

El Trofeo: 3 Tips for Writing an Effective TPRS Story


My students were laughing out loud and retelling this story in detail almost immediately. I can cite details from the story at any time, even weeks later, and get a giggle out of more than one kiddo every time.

This is bar none the best TPRS story I have written.

I think it worked so well because of three things:
  • limiting the personalization
  • differentiating familiar structures
  • goofy puns and props

Now, I had considered simply recycling "Muy talentoso," but I wasn't happy with the non-ending ending, and I didn't think it really hooked the kids even then. Plus these kids pretty much have puede, hace, and hay down (well, puede and hace--but we did try hay in the last story they did).

So I started my usual story writing process over, focusing on making the ending unexpected, yet funny. (trofeo, potro feo--get it???)


Personalization simplification

Everything was a whole lot easier to remember when there were only 5 elements to the story the students got to choose. I was desperate to go outside on a beautiful day when I first told the story, so I went back to having students make suggestions before it began. Gotta say pausing and using Nearpod to select during the initial telling was much more effective for maintaining engagement (if only we had wifi outside!!)

Still, students only picked

  • the progatonist's name
  • the name of the TV show
  • the type of costume he wears to win
  • the song he sings to win
That made for easy recycling during storyasking. I think they got an even bigger kick out of it this way, whether it was the class with the Grey's Anatomy theme or the class that dressed "Juan" in only a sombrero but named his dog Pantalones. (My kids are frikkin' hilarious.) It was also a lot easier for them to retell the story with fewer random details.



Different but the same

Keep an eye on TeachersPayTeachers
for an updated version of these sliders!
My kids have been trying to use tiene to form the past tense since Spanish I, so I finally decided to GIVE them ha. Back when we were working on self-improvement and reporting steps we had made towards our goals, I made cute little sliders to show how to form the past participle with all of the verbs they were using in their blog posts.

However, kids were still getting ha and tiene confused right and left. Also, several had started using "tiene a" in their writing.

See, both ha and tiene que translate roughly as "has," so the confusion is understandable. What better solution to straighten them out than CONTEXT?

In fact, to REALLY drive home the context, The whole first paragraph of the story ONLY uses ha for the fill-in verb blanks, and the whole second paragraph ONLY uses tiene que. The patterns are really easy to pick out.

Now I reinforce each structure almost every day with a Nearpod question or assignment on Classroom--and they have a quick reference for how each is supposed to work in context!


Puns and props

Pinto et al, before
 feo makeover...
way, WAY before.
My theater minor came in really handy when telling this story--I'll have to record the drama some time. I was not afraid to oversell the drama. And there is NO greater payoff than when a minute after the story has ended, a handful of students start cracking up uncontrollably at the pun you ended on.

It also didn't hurt that I had literally taped googly eyes to my son's beloved horsie Pinto--along with index card buck teeth--in order to create my "potro feo"--which I pulled out of a bag just as the judges revealed it to our unlucky contestant.

Had I felt a little less pressed for time, I totally would have kept my own kid in the dark a little longer for students to act out the story with El Potro Feo, or at least pose with him for some selfies and maybe write their reactions as if they were "Juan" or "Derek Shepherd."

With the time we do have, though, I make sure to award them Potros Bonitos for their portfolio stickers.

That's right. My Little Pony stickers.


The final product

Now I put a little extra effort into tidying up this story, so "El trofeo" is the first story I'm charging for on TeachersPayTeachers. Here's a little preview:


Hay un muchacho que se llama Juan. Juan es muy talentoso, pero nunca HA ganado un premio para sus talentos. Lo que Juan más quiere en este mundo es un trofeo. y él HA entrado en cien concursos, pero lo mejor que él HA ganado es un certificado de participación. 

Un día, Juan escucha que hay audiciones para un programa de televisión que se llama La Voz. El programa es también un concurso de talentos donde el ganador TIENE QUE demostrar múltiples talentos. No sólo TIENE QUE cantar bien, pero también TIENE QUE bailar bien y actuar bien. Pero el premio para primer lugar es un trofeo grande, entonces Juan sabe que TIENE QUE entrar en el concurso.

If you like it, you can download your own copy here, complete with title page and verb-blank key.

Or, you can try these 3 tips and see what you can come up with! Can you think of a pun reveal better than poTRO FEO?

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this. I like Juan´s story. I just have two recommendation:
    Instead of "PARA sus talentos", "POR sus talentos" and instead of "ha ENTRADO en cien concursos", "ha PARTICIPADO en cien concursos".
    I really like the poTRO FEO pun.

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