Steps for Creating a Language Experience Story: Video Demonstration

We filmed this series of videos to demonstrate the steps in creating a Language Experience Story. Depending on your student's skill level and the complexity of the story, these lessons may take several sessions to complete. Regardless, the steps are always the same and can be divided into Before, During, and After activities

Before Activities - Discussion, Activating Prior Knowledge, and Organizing the Story

Video One: Discussion

In this video, the tutor and student are discussing an event the student attended. The discussion can be about any topic - shopping, attending church, enjoying a family get-together, waiting in line at the bank, watching a sports event, etc.. The pair are relaxed, and the student is describing a situation he has actually experienced using his own words. This step is important in activating your student's prior knowledge and linking learning to his real life experiences.

The tutor does not lead the discussion but prompts the student to continue. As partners in learning, they decide to pursue the topic further in the next lesson.

Click here to read the transcript of the video.

Video Two: Activating Prior Knowledge and Using the K-W-L Chart

To put the student at ease and to reflect on the last session, the pair begins with a short review of their first conversation. The tutor then takes the process one step further, using a graphic organizer. As the student talks, the tutor fills in a K-W-L chart. By filling in "What I Know," the tutor is activating the student's prior knowledge. By filling in "What I Want to Know," the tutor is generating interest in the text. The tutor asks the student to find out more about the topic as independent work. This step teaches the student that he can find information on his own or with the help of someone he trusts.

Click here to read the transcript of the video.

Click here to print a blank K-W-L Chart.

Click here for instructions on how to use a K-W-L Chart to activate prior knowledge and generate interest in a text.

Video Three: Language Experience Approach: Further Discussion and Using the K-W-L Chart

After finding information about the topic independently, the student discusses "What I Learned" and "What I Still Need to Know." This intermediary step demonstrates how a tutor can extend the student's ownership of his own learning and that a student's thoughts and past experiences are valuable contributions.

Click here to read the transcript of the video.

During Activities - Using a Graphic Organizer to Organize the Story

Video Four:
Creating a Mind Map as the Student Talks

As the students recalls the event, the tutor uses a graphic organizer to diagram the story. These graphic visuals are helpful in organizing thoughts before writing or when recalling the story at a later date. In this way, the tutor uses several learning styles - by listening, speaking, and using a visual graphic organizer - to develop the story.

Click here to read the transcript of the video.

Image of a good mind map/graphic organizer. (Click on the image for a larger version)

Image of a great mind map/graphic organizer. Note how the main topics and subtopics are easier to find due to color differentiation. (Click on the image for a larger version)

Video Five: Dictating and Writing the Story Using the Mind Map

To begin the story, the tutor asks the student to choose one topic area on the graphic organizer to develop further. As the student talks, the tutor writes down his words exactly as spoken, printing the words and using double spacing between the lines. No changes must be made, since this is the student's story and the tutor merely acts as a scribe. The tutor writes down the story exactly as dictated, even with grammatical errors, but the words should be spelled correctly. No changes should be made unless they come from the student.

Click here to read the transcript of the video.

Video Six: Reading Together

The tutor asks the student to read his story out loud. He will soon be able to do this on his own because the story is composed of his own words. The student might be hesitant at first, which is when the tutor can assist in the reading using a technique called Echo Reading. In “Echo Reading,” the tutor reads out loud. The student reads out loud as well, following close behind. As soon as the student demonstrates confidence in reading alone, the tutor lets him take over.

Click here to read the transcript of the video.

Click here to read directions for Echo Reading.

After Activities - Word Identification Activities and Transferring Reading Strategies

Video Seven: Word Identification Skills

The tutor and student review the story, making any changes that the student suggests. In this proofing and editing phase, the student learns that grammatical and spelling errors can be fixed later and that words and sentences can be changed in order to improve the story. As he becomes accustomed to this process (usually after creating several Language Experience Stories), he will feel more at ease about editing his work and making suggestions for improvement.

The tutor asks the student to underline words that he wants to learn better (no more than 5) and makes flash cards for each underlined word. The purpose of this exercise is to engage the student in the reading process because these are his own words.

Click here to read the transcript of the video.

Click here to learn how to teach sight words from flash/index cards.

Video Eight: Transferring Reading Strategies

The tutor and student meet again for another lesson in the future. The tutor presents the student with a news clipping on a topic related to the student’s story. He then reads the story to the student and thinks out loud, demonstrating the reading strategies he uses while reading a new article. The goal of this exercise is to help the student identify what reading strategies he is using, how he uses them, and how they help him comprehend the text. It is also important for tutors to show their students that good readers use reading strategies when encountering a new or difficult text. By thinking out loud, the tutor will help to transfer these strategies to the student, who will begin to use them on his own.

Click here to read the transcript of the video.

Click here to read the Bio-Vam story the tutor reads in the video.

Also on this site:

In creating the videos, we would like to thank the following organizations:

Videos created by Interface Media Group.

Tutor and Student, and setting: Literacy Council of Northern Virginia


According to Wiktionary a tutor is "one who teaches another (usually a student, learner, or tutee) in a one-on-one or small-group interaction."