How to Float…fiction for ELLs



Today, trying to find something useful to do while students are away for spring break, I hopped on Twitter.  Twitter always has a link or a comment that makes me feel like I didn’t just waste an hour.  Especially with all of the IATEFL material being made available.  Still, I was in a funk after a while.  I wanted to do something for my students.  I’m not a big materials kind of guy.  I can’t draw, don’t like crafts, and try to get my students to either bring in or make most of what we use in class.  But Michael Griffin sent me a timely tweet.  Went something exactly like this: “I wonder if you have considered writing books for ELLs.  Not textbooks perse but creative fiction pitched at a certain level.”  So I decided to give it a try.  I find that it’s the higher level beginners that I have the most trouble finding genuinely interesting materials for, especially fiction.  So with that in mind I wrote the following story.  It includes the Flesh-Kincaid Grade Level and Reading Ease Score.  As you’re reading take a moment and try and gauge how difficult you think the story would be for your students.  Feel free to copy and paste the text and use it however you would like.  If anyone has any ideas for interesting ways to work with the text in class, suggestions would be much appreciated as well.
OK, on to the story…     
How To Float
There is a town I know.  It is not a big town.  Actually, it is quite small.  In every way, it is a very ordinary town.  There are 2 convenience stores.  There is a library with a large collection of thick and serious books.  There is an old handmade  ice-cream shop.  And the people who live in the town seem ordinary when you first meet them.  They smile and say, “Good morning,” in the morning.  They wave and say, “See you later,” at the end of the day.  They wear blue jeans and t-shirts and laugh at jokes.  But for all of that, they are quite different from you and me.  The people in the town are always floating an inch or two off the ground.  They float, but the people of the town cannot fly.  At least I have never seen them fly.  They just float above the sidewalk.  And only a little.  It is very easy to notice them floating when they get on a bus.  Instead of climbing the stairs, they just float up into the bus.  I lived in the town for one year.  I was a science teacher at the high school.  Every day I went to school and taught my science classes.  One day, I asked my best student, Chad, why all the people in town floated.  He was a clever boy with light brown hair and lots of freckles on his nose.  He laughed and said he didn’t know.  I hoped that if I lived in the town, if I drank the town’s water, if I made friends with people in the town, I would start to float, too.  But I never did.  After one year my girlfriend and I decided to get married.  She lived in New York.  So I moved.  Before I moved, Chad gave me a letter, but said I shouldn’t open it until I was married.  The day after my wedding I pulled out the letter and read it.  It said, “We float, because we know this town is our only home.  We float because we know that we will never leave.  That is the secret.”  I looked across the table at my new wife.  I thought about my new life.  I knew just what Chad meant.
96.88% of words within GSL.  (97.9% excluding proper nouns)
Flesh-Kincaid grade level: 4
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease Score: 81

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2 thoughts on “How to Float…fiction for ELLs

  1. Hello Torn Halves,Thanks for the comment. I just jumped over to your blog, read the first entry and have to say, "I don't want to be a sheep," indeed. Looking forward to reading more in the near future. As far as Chad and lying is concerned, I'll have to stick up for Chad here. When the narrator asked Chad why people in the town floated, I'm guessing Chad didn't know why. Only after thinking about it for some time was he able to come up with an answer. And maybe, Chad could only come up with an answer after finding out his favorite teacher was moving away. Maybe in that one moment, Chad could see how much power there was in staying in one place. But I can't be sure. Because I am not Chad. I have no freckles.Thanks for the comment and giving me a reason to revisit this story.KevinKevin

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