Story Impressions Made an Impression on Me

Last weekend a colleague and I taught a professional development class about teaching vocabulary. He suggested a technique called “Story Impressions” to introduce a reading assignment. Here’s how it works: 

  • Give the students a list of words in the order they appear in the reading.
  • Ask the students to write a story that includes these words in the order given.
  • Ask the students to share their stories.
  • Students read the assigned reading.
  • Talk about the use of the vocabulary in the stories and the reading assignment.

Since we were teaching a class about vocabulary, our assigned reading was an article about vocabulary. Our list of words was:

Systematic, Principled, Cornerstone, Comprehension, Element, Methodology, Consensus, 
Condensation, Indirect, Receptive, Exposure, Facilitators


Our participants wrote wonderful stories. Five people shared their writing in class. Each story was different from each other story, but they were all great. Like so many activities, when you leave room for creativity, you get a great variety of responses. I never would have dreamed that we would hear so many different stories from this pretty boring list of words. Here is my favorite one (S/O to Megan McCann for letting me share it!):


After sharing stories, our participants went to this site to read about the research about the importance of teaching vocabulary. If you read this article, watch for the words above. Are they used in the same way in both Megan’s story and the article?

The activity was a great previewing strategy for the reading assignment and a lot of fun to use in class. I definitely want to try it again in my classroom!

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