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    CM-ing the Progym: Narrative Stage Examples

    March 10, 2014 by Brandy Vencel

    This post almost did not happen because I could not seem to find my son’s narration notebook! Eventually I decided to ask him and he pointed out to me that the one I was looking for is the one he’s currently using. So glad he is here to think for me on such occasions!

    By the way, if you aren’t keeping a narration notebook, I highly suggest it.

    This is not complicated.

    All this means is that I have the child do all written narration in a lined notebook. The fun part is that we can look back and see how writing improves day to day, week to week, month to month. Since there is a three-year gap between my first two students, this also helps me remember what I did.

    It is basically the only reason why I can write this series!


    On to the examples.

    Just like the examples I posted for Fable Stage, I’m not posting a sample for the “write it shorter” version because there is no original writing for that. The child simply crosses out the unnecessary words and rewrites the bones.

    Variation 1: Write it Longer

    Ahem. I cannot find an example of this one. I wonder if we did not do it? And, if so, why?
    My guess is that, since the examples were longer, I felt that was too much writing.
    All I can say is that with this {long-winded in writing} child, “write it longer” really isn’t necessary. If you have a child writing painfully short narrations, this is a great exercise. The curriculum has suggestions on how to help them think of things to add, which I never did, but for a special circumstance might be helpful.

    Variation 2: Change the Point of View

    This is based upon II Samuel 12:1-7, in which Nathan uses a parable to confront David about his sin.

    The LORD sent me to David. I said to him, “There were two men in one city, one rich, the other poor. The rich man had many flocks. But the poor man had nothing but the one ewe lamb. He loved the lamb; it was to him as a daughter.

    A traveller came to visit the rich man. He spare his own flock, and took the poor man’s instead.”

    David said, “That man shall die. He shall restore fourfold.”

    I said, “Thou art the man.”

    Now, if you notice, this is really just a plain narration, but written in the first person. I don’t think it necessarily qualifies as “the perspective of Nathan,” which is what my son wrote at the top of his page. But, in my opinion, we don’t worry about that at this point. We are just happy that he said “I” instead of “him” or “Nathan” and was consistently that person throughout the narration.

    Later on, as we get better at this variation, we can talk about how Nathan might tell the story. One of the things we began to discuss as time went on was how that person might feel or think about the situation. Later still, we talked about style — how might a person like that present his story? How would it be different if told by an old man, versus a young girl?

    At this point, in the very beginning, most students are going to be very literal.

    Variation 3: Invert the Sequence

    This is based upon I Kings 18:21-29, in which Elijah confronts the prophets of Baal.

    At noon, Elijah mocked them saying, “He is a god, so he is talking or pursuing, or is sleeping and must be awakened.” So the prophets cried aloud and cut themselves with knives and lancets till the blood gushed out.

    When midday was passed they profesied untill the time of the evening sacrifice. But there was no voice, nor answer, nor any that regarded.

    They had already took a bullock and dressed it, and called on Baal from morning till noon. But there was no voice, nor answer. They leaped upon the alter that was made.

    All of this happened becaus4 Elijah came to the people saying, “How long halt yet between two opinions? If the LORD be God then follow him, if Baal then follow him.”

    The people made no answer.

    Elijah said, “Even I, only I am a prophet of the LORD, but Baal’s are four hundred and fifty. Let them give us two bullocks. Let them choose one for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, but put no fire under and call on your gods.

    I will dress the other, and cut, but put no fire under, and the God that answereth by fire, he shall be God.”

    The people answered, “It is well spoken.”

    Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, “Choose a bullock and dress it, and lay is on wood, but put no fire under.”

    On this one, he really struggled with how to change the sequence around and still make sense, and I think it was really good for him to have to think that hard. With Aesop, it was much easier for him. Again, I cannot emphasize enough that we don’t worry about all of that at this stage. Our goal is for them to understand what each variation is, not to actually master them. That comes with time.

    And do we ever actually master it? I mean, these exercises are good for me.

    Variation 4: Write it as a Poem

    He never chose to do this during the term that we were learning these variations, and I am not one to push on poetry. He did, however, write a poem shortly after we started applying the progym to our normal AO readings, and I thought I’d share that one. This poem is trying to tell the story of the battle between the Monitor and the Merrimack {also known as the Battle of the Ironclads}.

    The days of yore,
    Of Merrimack
    And Monitor.

    Monitor’s iron turret
    Sends its iron balls flying,
    Laying low the enemy;
    Men on the deck lie dying.

    Three hours did that cheesecraft fight,
    Sent them, defeated, away.
    The Monitor chugged back unharmed
    On that victorious day.

    If you are wondering, I added the semi-colon. When we talked about the poem, I insisted, even though he’s still not sure what a semi-colon is. I have my limits, you know.

    More to Come

    Next time, we’re going to talk about how to apply all of these to the AO curriculum.

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