Tell a little more; ask a little less (but ask the right questions)

When I started with TPRS, I struggled with “asking” a story.  I would write out a script and try to stick to it without soliciting much student input.  I had to put a lot of effort into leaving stories open to the students.  Over the years, I improved at this skill.  The problem was that I focused on it for so long that I began “asking” too much and not “telling” enough.  Somehow, I got it in my head that everything should be asked and nothing stated.  I’ve realized recently that I need to provide base information first and then ask.  I also need to be more aware of which aspects need told and which can be open to student interpretation.  I would establish meaning with a few structures and begin asking very open-ended questions for the story.  One of two things would happen:

1. The students would give input and take the story in different directions.  Sometimes I could adjust, get the desired reps and keep students engaged.  Sometimes I could not.

2. Students would not answer the open-ended questions early; stories would stall and students would disengage.

They key is knowing when to ask and how to ask.  “Why” is a great question, but there are certain situations in which it doesn’t work.  I got into the bad habit of constantly asking “why” and then trying to circle based on student response.  Many times, I was hoping students would provide the same details that I had in my head.  They usually did not do so. Now, I’m spending more time on planning out the basics of a story and planning what and how to ask.  I’m not stripping the stories of student involvement as I once feared.  I am adding a bit more direction.

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