Adventures in One Word Image

April 2022 – 

Have you ever tried story asking and just felt that it was a little too much? Maybe you used a script, maybe you winged it. But it just felt like asking a story was too difficult and / or not worth your time and effort. I would recommend that you give it one more shot… via One Word Image. One Word Image was created by Ben Slavic. In short, One Word Image is a way / method of creating a character and therefore creating a class story. 

How One Word Image works: If you’re like me, maybe you were confused on the “One Word” part… Why one word? What is the one word? Where do you get the one word? This past week I was able to attend a PD for my district and attend a workshop on One Word Image by Taylor Roholt at McAuliffe International School in Denver, CO. Taylor clarified that big question for me and then clarified that basically I’ve been one-step short of doing One Word Image all year! 

How I did it: 

Step  1 – Just like when you do a story asking, you want to establish the words that you are focusing on, your target structures. Or – if you’re doing a yearly review – you could list out all the structures you’ve done that year. Most people like to stick to 3 – 4 target verbs. For the example I’ll show you today, we used busca, encuentra, sabe, tiene miedo, mira. Yes, that’s more than 3 words, BUT busca, encuentra, and tiene miedo aren’t really new because they were in both of the novels that we read this year.

Step 2 – Give out your artist roles & set expectations. Taylor suggested giving an example of what a “good” character drawing looks like and includes: outlines, all characteristics, color, taking up the full paper, etc. I allowed multiple students to draw the character and we chose the best one. 

Step 3 – Create your character. I used these slides to create our character. These slides are based on the questions that Taylor reviewed in the PD session. You could always add more questions and develop your character more. I wanted to make sure we had time, so I won’t add more questions until we speed up the process a bit. 

Step 4 – Once your character is created & your problem has been established, writing the first part of your story should be easy! You’ve already established the who, what, where and problem. I reviewed these pieces of our character while I wrote the story on the board. Pro-tip: If you have access, have a student type your story as you write it. It will make re-using it SO much easier for you. Yes, you’ll have to make edits, but it will be so much faster than you typing the entire story. 

Step 5 – As you write your class story, you will want to take a step back into traditional story asking questions and make sure that you are weaving in your target verbs. You’ll also want to make sure that you are establishing meaning for any new words. I learned that through using OWI my students were staying much more in the language that they knew rather than calling out crazy new words all the time. That was a huge plus for me! As you create, have a student(s) create a story board for the story. 

Now that you’re done, you have a character image, a story, and a story board… this means that you have used one activity: One Word Image, to create three reusable items! You can hang your characters and bring them back. I like to hang my stories so students can see them with the story board. Taylor suggested making a Google Doc for each class and uploading the Character Image, story, and story board each time and “gifting” it to students at the end of the year and then adding it to your class library. I’ve also seen some teachers turn One Word Image creations into stickers and printing them to hang in a smaller area after the year is over – this way they live on, but they don’t overtake your classroom! 

Do you have One Word Image ideas or suggestions, questions? What are your best One Word Image tips and tricks?

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