Friday, February 15, 2013

Language Arts - Narration Notes

Dear Charlotte Mason friend,
 I thought I might start a series of 'Language Arts'  posts.  It seems that the topic of narration comes around often.  Since it is so integral to a CM philosophy, we will start with a quick overview.  It is always a good reminder to hear the purpose behind the philosophy and check our method to see that it is matching up.  Here are some of my notes from a study group meeting a while back.  
Click on the 'narration' label to read an earlier post on this.

Grace for the day,
Our discussion centered around the understanding of narration as a tool for the student to grapple with the information and process it – One cannot tell what he doesn’t know.  Only of secondary benefit is teacher evaluation. We emphasized that narration is telling back in their own words and isn’t always a summary.
There are many ways to narrate.  Oral telling, written for older, illustration, dramatization - any way a student can retell.  We talked about the “Narration Jar” and “Narration Cube”.  We mentioned the idea from that helps with multiple children – use colored beads (different shaped if you want to be certain who will narrate at times :) - that would just be for the control freaks among us; I like to think of it as wise discretion).  Choose a different bead for each child and put it in your pocket to draw “at random” after a reading, then everyone is ready if they are the one who gets to narrate. 
Also, I mentioned the way we try to get in narrations as the children have gotten older is through a specified time for “Day’s Work” on each child’s schedule at the end of the day.  Then, those who are reading more on their own will have a dedicated time with you for narrating all the readings of the day.    
We discussed the process of narration and how it changes with maturity.  Narration IS composition.  Written narrations begin slowly and are not for grammar, handwriting, or spelling (that is copywork/dictation).  Written narrations may start when students are around 10 -12 yrs, but only after they have an established comfortable relationship with orally narrating.  That can take a couple of years when starting to incorporate it with older children!  We also talked about trying to get their buy in (for older students) by explaining that it is not your way of checking up on them,  but the necessary work for their mind to understand and retain knowledge (no studying or cramming for exams).  Written narration never completely replaces oral narration even in the high school years.
Our challenge was to make narration a consistent priority!