Monday, February 18, 2013

Starting Phase 2 with Lexicarry

The Guide to Phase 2 (The Next 150 Hours)  is based around Mercer Mayer's book Frog Where Are You? We chose that book because we felt it is more likely to stay in print than most wordless picture story books . We've bought and given away scores of copies of the book along with the Guide to Phase 2.

However, Angela and I just started Phase 2 differently. In the Guide to Phase 2, we talk briefly about Story Building using the Lexicarry by Patrick Moran. (see http://www.lexicarry.com) For Phase 1, Angela has made the "Lexicarry-like" pictures that are in the graphics packet. They include some greetings, but more emphasis on "power tools" such as "What is that? I don't know. What am I doing? I don't understand. Please speak more slowly. What did you say? What is this called?" (We make up new ones on the fly). So we in fact didn't use the Lexicarry at all in Phase 1, only our "Lexicary-like" pictures. It turned out that we had only five hours to get into Phase 2 before leaving the country for a couple weeks, and decided, why not do it with Lexicarry? And so we did.

A drawback of Lexicarry for early Phase 2 is that, unlike the pages of wordless picture story books, the story strips of Lexicarry aren't full of background and foreground details to talk about. For this and other reasons, if someone doesn't already "know the ropes" of doing Story Building in Phase 2, we suggest that they indeed start with Frog Where Are You? and carefully read the Guide to Phase 2 in order to learn the technique. Once they have the technique down pat, they'll have flexibility in varying it.

So how did it go using Lexicarry rather than a wordless picture story book? Wee, even without all the little background and foreground details of Frog Where Are You? we nevertheless came close to meeting our goals of seven or eight new words per hour, on average. In those five hours we did 9 Lexicarry strips with a range of 3 to 9 new words per strip.

The steps we followed were similar to those we use with picture story books, but treating a frame in a Lexicarry story strip as if it were a page in the book. So the basic steps were:

1) Look at a frame, and try to say what is there and what is happening.
•GP's in the lead.
•Nurturer scaffolds their efforts to talk.
•GP's look for everything they can say.
•They look for things they can't say, and ask the nurturer.
2) Write numbers by bits of the story that represent new words;  record the new words in the order of those numbers as that auditory dictionary.
3) Word strengthening activity (nurturer speaks, and we point or act out in some way).
4) Summary recording of each frame as we finish it
5) Debrief after an appropriate amount of monolingual time
6) Go on to the next frame and repeat 1 through 5 with that frame
7) After doing steps 1- 5 with the final frame of a story strip, nurturer tells whole the story in the "past tense"
•First re-play the frame-by-frame summaries for the nurturer to be reminded of things to say.
•The nurturer tells the story while looking at the picture strip. (Recorded)
•The nurturer re-tells the story with the picture book closed. (Recorded)

As you can see, Lexicarry seems to work much like a wordless picture story book, although we covered twenty-seven frames in five hours, and we wouldn't want to cover twenty-seven wordless picture story book pages that quickly.

An advantage of the Lexicarry picture strips is the carefully planned range of human interactions that are depicted. In building stories about those interactions, we tried to think of issues such as who would speak first of the two people? What else might they say? In which situations would a particular speech act be carried out in the same way or different ways (say someone in a picture strip is saying that they are sorry in a particular way for a particular reason)? Other meaningful details, such as why the beggar is holding out his left hand to receive money? Etc. So our asking could go beyond the old fashioned "What is that?" and "What is he doing?" though there was a reasonable amount of that old fashioned asking as well.

Now we're away for a couple of weeks, with lots of recordings that let us re-live, re-experience, refresh and strengthen!