"It was a dark and stormy night. . . ."
A progressive story is one that can be started either by the teacher or by one of the
students. It can be written or oral, and it can be told by individuals or by groups in a
cooperative setting. It can even be conducted by email or in chat groups!
"It was a dark and stormy night! We were . . . . "
There probably isn't an elementary teacher in the country who hasn't used this method.
The progressive story adapts well to a cooperative learning format. Try using a written
approach and passing the story from group to group. When the story is completed, have
the groups read it aloud, one section at a time. Instead of letting the students decide
which of them will handle the reading, you decide. This approach injects the element of
These stories are fun and can also serve as conversation starters! Why not start now with the mysterious
sailing ship and the terrible storm as a backdrop?
*The material in this handout has been adapted from Lesson Plans and
Activities for Tutors of Adults in English as a Second Language. (1997)
by Charles D. Keith with permission of the author and publisher,
Instructional Systems. To order, see the Instructional Systems Website,