Is answering questions an important skill? Or, can we replace it with narrating?

Dear Carrie

If my daughter narrates better than she answers questions, should I focus on improving her skill of properly answering questions, or should I let her narrate instead?

We are reading Tornado from the Emerging Reader’s Set. I’ll ask my daughter the follow up questions, and she will often not know the answers. She’ll ask if she can narrate instead. Then, she’ll give a beautiful oral narration. She’s like this with Bible too. She can almost never answer the questions in Bigger Hearts for His Glory‘s Bible study. She does have auditory processing and visual perception issues. I don’t know if that could be at play. So, if my daughter narrates better than she answers questions, should I let her narrate instead?

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Help Me Decide If I Should Let Her Narrate or Focus on the Skill of Answering Questions Better”

Dear “Ms. Please Help Me Decide If I Should Let Her Narrate or Focus on the Skill of Answering Questions Better,”

Let me begin by saying it is wonderful that your daughter is able to narrate well! I’ll also share that it isn’t uncommon for kiddos to have an inclination toward either narrations or answering questions. This is because each type of assignment appeals to a different type of learner and requires a different thought process. Questions often have the expectation of one right answer, whereas narration allows kiddos to choose to share what they took from the story and focus on that. Narration is more open-ended. Both types of assignments are important to do, as different skills are learned.

Some learners prefer to answer questions with one right answer, while other learners prefer to give more open-ended narrations.

So, as we look at learners who are more comfortable in knowing exactly what to do and how to do it, and who thrive on one right answer, we can see that questions will appeal to these types of children. On the other hand, as we look at kiddos who are more free-flowing through their day, who do not like to be restricted, and who enjoy creativity, we can see that narrations will appeal to these types of children.

If children struggle with answering questions, you can let them know the questions prior to reading.

In looking at the challenges the questions are providing for your daughter, it would help for your child to know the questions prior to reading. Just be aware that sharing the questions prior to reading, will put your child’s focus wholly on finding the answers to those questions as she reads. So, if you shift gears and then ask her to narrate after reading she may be lost.

As children move through Heart of Dakota’s guides, they eventually improve and learn to work well within their weaker area.

Usually as kiddos travel through Heart of Dakota, they eventually get to the point where they learn to work within their weaker area well. This means that kiddos that weren’t born narrators can learn to narrate well. Likewise, kiddos who have a tough time answering questions can learn to excel in that area too. It just takes time, often years! So, be encouraged that while a processing disorder may definitely play a role in how quickly a child progresses in a weak area, all kiddos will have some struggles in any area that does not come naturally to their learning and personality style. As always, when we are pondering a child’s learning progress, it is hard to know where an actual disorder ends and where the diversity of a “typical” childhood personality or learning-style begins.

Blessings,

Carrie

Retaining knowledge by “telling again”

A Charlotte Mason Moment:

“Education which demands a ‘conscious mental effort’, from the scholar, the mental effort of telling again that which has been read or heard. That is how we all learn, we tell again, to ourselves if need be, the matter we wish to retain, the sermon, the lecture, the conversation. The method is as old as the mind of man, the distressful fact is that it has been made so little use of in general education.”

(Home Education by Charlotte M. Vol. 6, p. 159-160)

Oral Narrations: An Integral Part of a Charlotte Mason Education

More Than a Charlotte Mason Moment

Oral narrations are an integral part of a Charlotte Mason education!

A Charlotte Mason education is literature-based and full of living books that you just can’t put down!  Think about the best book you’ve ever read. As you were reading it, if you were asked to respond to it each day, would you have delightedly chosen to take a pop quiz about it with fill-in-the-blank, true/false, or multiple choice questions? Or, would you have much rather just told a friend about it, sharing all you remembered in a narrative way? Chances are, you’d prefer to tell someone about it over taking a quiz.  Even if you happen to be a rare quiz-loving person, which response would you be more likely to remember? Good books are meant to be shared, and Charlotte Mason knew that when they are shared, they are remembered – long after any quickly forgotten quiz. That is why oral narrations are an integral part of a Charlotte Mason education.

A Charlotte Mason education is based on using narration as the primary method of comprehension.

When children orally narrate, they tell back in their own words what they have just read or heard. Oral narration allows children to share their own version of the passage with accuracy, individual personality, spirit, and originality. In Charlotte Mason-style narration, children borrow words from the author to retell the story.  Narrations are often lengthy and detailed, and there is no “one right” answer or certain key points that “should be” in the narration. This is the way the child connects to and makes sense of the reading. Children can often give a candid heartfelt oral narration on a book they read years earlier, simply because they remember it so well due to having narrated upon it. A Charlotte Mason education is based on using narration as the primary method of comprehension because it is so effective.

Heart of Dakota’s guides include helpful tips for both the teacher and the student before, during, and after orally narrating.

Chances are, you didn’t grow up orally narrating in school, and more than likely, you’d love a little guidance in this area. Well, Heart of Dakota provides that! Each year Carrie wrote a new Heart of Dakota guide, she pulled out Charlotte Mason’s original volumes and reread all that pertained to the upcoming stages of learning students were entering. The result? Decades of Charlotte Mason research at your disposal right within your Heart of Dakota guides. Beginning with modeling oral narrations and moving to helpful tips for both teacher and student before, during, and after orally narrating – HOD has you covered. Likewise beginning with simple narrations and moving to detailed, summary, key word, highlighted, topic, opinion, persuasive, recorded, and typed narrations – HOD makes sure oral narrations grow and mature as your children do!

Narrating is an essential skill life.

Narrating is an essential skill in life.  To be able to give an opinion of a book, relay a telephone message, summarize a letter, give driving directions, write an article, or share a doctor’s instructions – are all examples of practical applications of narration skills.  Narrating is an important skill to learn.  You can begin to teach your children to narrate by following the steps in Heart of Dakota’s guides.  Just be patient, and have fun with it!  Narration is a way of life you will surely learn to love!

In Closing

In closing, here are a few Charlotte Mason quotes about narration for you to take inspiration from…

A narration should be original as it comes from the child- that is, his own mind should have acted on the matter it has received. – Charlotte Mason

Narrating is an art, like poetry-making or painting, because it is there, in every child’s mind, waiting to be discovered, and is not the result of any process of disciplinary education. – Charlotte Mason

In Christ,

Julie

 

 

 

Orally Narrating from a Living Book with Multiple Proper Nouns

Dear Carrie

How can I help my daughter orally narrate from a living book with multiple proper nouns and less of a ‘flow’ of one storyline?

Dear Carrie,

We have completed Unit 2 of Heart of Dakota’s high school World Geography. I’m happy to say my daughter is enjoying it and doing well! Having said that, I’ve looked ahead and read some of A Book of Discovery myself. I can see this book is living, but it doesn’t have the same ‘flow’ of one storyline as some of the other living books. Though it is narrative, the author uses a huge quantity of proper nouns. Some we’ve heard of, and some not. I see in Unit 3, you walk students through a model of sorts to categorize the information. Extremely helpful, Carrie – thank you! So, I now come to my question. How can I help my daughter orally narrate from a living book with lots of proper nouns and less of a ‘flow’ of one storyline?

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Help with Narrating a Living Book with Multiple Proper Nouns”

Dear “Ms. Please Help with Narrating a Living Book with Multiple Proper Nouns,”

This is a great question! As we head into the high school years, the books do get more challenging! They do include more proper nouns in the form of names, dates, places, etc. So, while I agree this is a living book, I also agree that it has a more challenging feel to it with all of the factual information wound within its pages. You will also notice as you progress through this book that the chapters vary as to how many different episodes or events are contained within them. Consequently, your student’s narrations will really vary as well!

Students practice different types of oral narrations and eventually learn which type fits each book the best.

Learning to narrate from a book such as this is great practice, as the coming books at the high school level will contain this upped level of challenge too. You will notice that we vary the types of oral narrations in this guide, teaching 5 different types of oral narrations. In World History, we teach 6 types. In U.S. History I, we teach 7 types of oral narration. Finally, in U.S. History II, we teach 8 types of oral narration. This just shows that when narrating, there are many different ways to approach narration (and they are all viable). But, as students practice these varying types of narrating, they will also eventually learn what type of narration best fits each type of book.

In U.S. History I, we take the 7 types of oral narrations and have students practice 7 different types of written narrations.

To give you a glimpse down the road, in the U.S. History I guide, we also take those 7 types of oral narrations and have kiddos practice doing 7 different types of written narrations. We purposefully wait until the U.S. History I guide to have students do this task, as we are desiring for them to practice orally narrating in various ways for years prior to doing a specific type of written narration. We are also desiring for students to have much practice in open-ended written narrations prior to be asked to write a specific type of written narration.

Students can experiment with different kinds of written narrations in World Geography, which will help their oral narrations.

So, with all of this in mind, I would encourage your daughter to experiment with her written narrations in the World Geography guide. It is fine to try summary-style narrations and descriptive narrations. It is fine to narrate more fully upon one episode that struck her or to insert her opinions within the narrations. She can practice in learning to use transition sentences as well, as she tries to link the paragraphs in their narration together in a cohesive fashion.

These skills students hone as they try to figure out how to narrate in writing upon a variety of authors and styles is good practice for future learning. They will truly sift and sort and find what works for each book they encounter, but it takes time to find the pattern that works for each author. The skills are in the sifting and sorting and are also in borrowing some of the author’s style!

Students’ practice with different oral narrations makes the transition to different written narrations seamless.

To encourage you, I will share that I saw the fruit of all the different oral narrations in my own son. When he began the U.S. History I guide, he did not balk at writing the written narrations in a certain style each week. The oral narrations he had practiced for years earlier made the transition seamless. I could also see that his wheels were turning as to what type of narration would work best for each type of book. That son is now in college and just recently passed the CLEP test for English Composition quite easily!

So, these skills taught in World Geography on up are great life preparation and great college preparation too. They prepare kiddos to write at the drop of a hat in a variety of styles in response to all different types of authors. It is a very different education than the one that I received, but I have seen the benefits firsthand!

Blessings,

Carrie

How Best to Approach Typed Key Word Oral Narrations

Dear Carrie

How should we best approach the key word typed oral narration in Missions to Modern Marvels?

Dear Carrie,

My daughter is using Missions to Modern Marvels this year, and she is loving it!  For those of you new to Heart of Dakota, I highly recommend it! Now for my question. My daughter has used Heart of Dakota for many years, and she is excellent at giving oral narrations – too good maybe actually.  When it came to the day I was to type the key word oral narration she gave, I had a hard time keeping up with her. I didn’t want my typing speed to slow down her oral narration, but I couldn’t keep up.  She also wanted to refer to the manual now and then for key words.  Is that alright? I guess my question is, how should we best approach the key word typed oral narration in Missions to Modern Marvels?  Thanks in advance!

Sincerely,
“Ms. Please Help with Key Word Typed Oral Narrations”

Dear “Ms. Please Help with Key Word Typed Oral Narrations,”

One thing my hubby did for the typed key word oral narration day was to have my son record his narration on his IPod.  My hubby told my son to try to include most of the key words suggested in the guide in his narration. He allowed him to stop and start the recorder in order to get most the words included. It took my son quite awhile, but he really got into it and actually did a good job including all the words eventually. It also was much easier to type from the recording, as the parent can pause the narration and catch up with the typing or replay as needed. This makes a typed narration much easier to do!

It’s fine to look back in the book for key words, but don’t narrate directly from the book!

Doing a typed narration like this works well if you have a child who has been narrating for awhile, like your daughter. Just make sure the child isn’t looking right at the book as he/she is narrating!  I will admit that my son did have to look back in the book while stopping the recording to see what some of the key words noted in the guide referred to. But, I didn’t think this was all bad either, as it drew his attention to the names and places and forced him to use them in his narration. It also gave time for the parent to catch up on the typing for the typed narration!

Keep in mind, giving key word oral narrations is a higher level skill.

Giving a key word narration that is also meant to be a typed narration is definitely a higher level oral narration skill. So, this wouldn’t be as appropriate for a younger narrator who still needs immediate parental feedback. However, it would work for those who have been narrating awhile and are ready for the next step.  We’ve been doing it this way ever since for the typed narrations and enjoying it immensely!

Blessings,
Carrie