Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Notes on Eve Anderson Narration Lesson

I had the opportunity to watch the Eve Anderson CM lesson DVDs last night. It was enlightening! Eve Anderson is an English lady who was brought up in a PNEU school, trained at a CM college, and then became teacher and eventually headmistress at a PNEU school. (For those of you that don't know, the PNEU schools were started by CM and use her method.)

I was significantly relieved to see how much she talked to the children. Often the admonition, "don't get between the child and the book" is taken to mean, "never say anything". But Ms. Anderson did. Not that I think we should go on and on and lecture. But she did talk quite a bit. And she asked questions a lot.

I already did this with my students (couldn't resist) but I felt a vague sense of uneasiness about it, as if I was doing something wrong. Now that feeling can just go away. :)

What follows are the notes I took during the lesson on narration. She had a class of around eight to ten children. They read a portion of a chapter from Child's History of the World.


1. She invited the kids to tell about the previous reading. She had to get them started, but then they began to tell. "Well done." "Good." "I jogged your memory and you remembered that." "What was the name?" (Excalibur) "Was it true? No, but it is a good story."

2. Introduced new chapter, then "Listen carefully as I read." She used the word, "carefully," a lot.

3. After reading a portion-- she stopped relatively quickly because there was an anecdote telling of a particular monk-- she said, "Shall we tell a bit about San Simeon?" She always *asked* them to tell. Very respectful. She had a quiet voice and was a bit hoarse. The children were very well-behaved. At first they were laying their heads down on their desks and yawning a bit, but as the lesson progressed they perked up. She eventually had their full attention. These were American kids. She was a guest at their ChildLight school.

4. As they narrated, she conversed with them. She never interrupted a child, but as each student narrated, she spoke back to them with "Good" or adding a bit to what they said. The monk in question thought sitting on a pillar was a good way to serve the Lord, so he did that for many years. She brought out implications, "If it rained like yesterday?" and the children followed that thread to the logical end, which is, he would have no shelter and would get wet. It is important to note that she did not tell them what to think about this behavior. Also, I noticed she never used the force of her personality to get them to respond in some way. She was a participant with more knowledge, and the leader of the discussion, that is all.

5. Intro to next portion ("Listen carefully")

6. After reading, she said, "Who hasn't told me yet?" The kids raised their hands to get permission to speak. "Rachel, can you start telling me?" After Rachel told, she gave a hint as to the next portion and selected another student.

She reiterated a bit, then said, "More?" The children sometimes supplied answers for each other, but they always raised their hands and waited until called upon. In fact, they never spoke to each other. They spoke to her. (I might change this in my own classroom, at least at times and for older kids. These kids were probably around 8-9 years old.)

She made applications for today-- are there monks now, what do they do? She told some of what she knew of monks in our day and answered the kids' questions, ie., "If they can't have money, how are they allowed to sell the wine they make?"

They discussed so much that she eventually recommended they go on to the next portion. "We're getting ahead of ourselves."

7. The read the next portion, then she deliberated on who to select for narration. She wanted someone that hadn't spoken much yet. The student she chose told only the end of what had been read. "He's told me the end part. We'll talk more about that in a minute, but let's go back and get the rest." (Note that she corrected the procedure without denigrating the student.)

8. Other students told, then she reiterated what they said. She used their words and then illuminated them with her own words, sometimes inserting a proper term where the student had been vague. The students still wanted to get ahead of themselves. "You're jumping a bit. Can we go back to the land first? I'll come back to you." After the middle was filled in, she went back to the student she had stopped from narrating. "Stephen, some more?" She asked noun-specific questions and what/how questions to get them to be more descriptive.

9. She reiterated more and expanded on what they had told. "If we go to a museum we might see it." Talked about the British Museum and where people in America might go to see such a thing.

10. She did not finish the chapter. They had worked for approximately 28 minutes, which she said was a little long. She introduced the next section and gave them something to remember "for next time" from what they read that day.

11. The principal of the school she was visiting spoke after the lesson. He emphasized the importance of teacher preparation before the lesson.


Have you seen the Eve Anderson videos? What did you think? Even if you haven't, do you have any observations on the notes?


Sarah said...

I'm so glad about what you shared. I was especially glad to hear about the guiding and prompts the teacher offered her students as the conversation went along. I always am afraid that by doing so I am offering too much direction to my kids' lessons, when it sounds like what we are doing is actually appropriate.

I really hope to see these videos myself at some time!

Katie said...

That has always been my fear too, Sarah. I think we are right to make sure we don't insert our own opinions, but to provide context and direction is a good thing. It helps the kids stay focused.

Anonymous said...

Oooo thanks for sharing. I 've always wondered what these videos were like.

Mrs. H

Mama Squirrel said...

I watched this last night with a small group of interested moms, and I think you gave a great summary!