Story Listening Example

This is from our group member Carmen Suárez in Chicago:

Hi Ben,

I want to share something that I did for my students (K-2). I found a book in the library of one the kindergarten rooms, the book is Mouse Paint, it may be very popular in some Kindergarten rooms but I had not read it. It is a simple and gracious story and I immediately started to work with it in my Spanish classes. I found a Spanish version that was too advanced for my students so I translated my own version and adapted it for my students. I used simplified language and made everything in the present. Then I took pictures of the images from the book itself and edited them to look nice and clean. My students enjoyed it, we had a good time and then we did some post-storytelling activities where they worked and groups, you know to make  his student-driven class “visible” to outsiders.

I am sharing two versions with you and the group, one with the text in Spanish and the other with just images to make it non language specific. I would love to receive any feedback that you and members of the group may have.

One thing: I don’t want to break any copyright. I tried to contact the author to ask permission to use her story but did not find her. So maybe since the PLC group is private it shouldn’t be such a big deal, I don’t know too much about that. If you know how to deal with this, please show me a way.

Story_ratones pintores:
Story_ratones pintores images:

Thank you, Ben.



13 thoughts on “Story Listening Example”

  1. Hi Carmen,

    I hate to have to be the bearer of bad news, but if you do not have permission to copy the story, then you are infringing on the copyright. (Copyright means precisely that: right to copy.) It doesn’t matter if the copy is behind a password, intended for a small group, or whatever. Except for limited exemptions for “Fair Use” (e.g. writing a review) – and copying a complete book is never Fair Use -, the copyright holder must grant you permission; just having a difficult time finding the author is not sufficient justification.

    In all likelihood, the publisher holds the copyright. For example, one of Ellen Stoll Walsh’s books includes a note to contact Harcourt about permission to copy. (I think it was Mouse Count or Mouse Shapes.) At least contact the publisher to ask where you can contact the author. It might not get you a contact address or number, but then it might.

    If people are interested, I can write a longer piece on copyright; the bottom line, though, is this: If you don’t have express permission from the copyright holder, then you don’t have permission to copy, and doing so puts you in the wrong both ethically and legally.

    Kristy Placido posted yesterday on Facebook about seeing some of her materials just “out there”, and Martina Bex has previously posted the same. In both instances, there has been a reminder that copying without permission is not cool.

  2. That scares me, Robert. Thank you for your insight, I certainly don´t want to infringe any law. I just wanted to share the story that I translated and adapted deliberately for my students language level. So better to keep this kind of thing in the “privacy” of my own classroom. Ben, please take down the link and the post. I am sorry for my ignorance.

  3. Carmen and Robert what if the instructor simplifies the text and gives it to her students as a written adaptation, but does not give the pictures? Then she holds up the book to read like in Kindergarten Day or project them electronically? Is that a violation of copyright? I am concerned that based on what you say above a lot more teachers than we may realize are routinely breaking copyright laws. I think that this topic needs further clarification.

  4. Ben and Carmen, I am not a copyright lawyer, so nothing I say counts as a legal opinion.

    For printed material, the issue is right to copy. Holding a book up for others to see is definitely not an infringement of copyright. I seriously doubt that using a document camera so that students can see the book is an infringement, either.

    Re-telling a story in your own words is not an infringement, especially if done in an informal setting. BTW, you can’t copyright or trademark ideas. (Trademark is a different set of laws.)

    A key consideration behind copyright law is the effect that it has on the author (originator). The law is intended to protect the author from theft of intellectual property and ensure that the owner of the copyright receives just recompense for use of his property. Ben, I know you understand how it feels when someone simply takes the things you have worked on for so long and truly labored over, then presents them free to everyone at a conference without even giving credit. It’s also one thing for people to “justify” copyright violation when it’s one of the the “evil corporate giants” raking in a huge profit (still wrong, though), but recently both Martina Bex and Kristy Placido have discovered people who simply photocopied their work and put it up on the internet. I’m sure my books will someday be out there as well, if they aren’t already. The end result, of course, is that authors are unable to receive the just recompense and reward for their investment (of time, thought, energy, money, etc.).

    And yes, many teachers routinely break copyright laws. I’m sure most do it without thinking or realizing that they are doing it, but ignorance of the law is no excuse.

    1. Well said Robert. It’s about the spirit of the law as much as anything. I was looking at it from the letter of the law side. Good clarification. And yes it stings when people don’t credit. I was sitting in a session at NTPRS in Chicago a few years back and luckily I was sitting in the back when a presenter started talking about certain student jobs as if they had invented them. I just slipped out the back and walked around and felt bad.

  5. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    Carmen could refer to the book title and simply share her adapted text.
    That way she could be sharing /providing the wonderful resource without infringing on the copyright. Kind of like an alternative story script.
    Speaking of this legal stuff – does anyone know the legal aspects of this situation? Someone sent me a link to a free ejournal, and the current front page article contained a recent blogpost of mine!
    I was not asked or notified.
    While I’m glad that my post is being disseminated (though it was for a journal I’d never heard of), I thought it was kinda presumptuous to link my stuff as a cover article – as though I was a regular consenting journal contributor – without informing me…
    I sent an email – haven’t heard back yet…
    Is it legal?

    1. Again, I am not a lawyer, but according to my understanding, it is not legal, and you may be entitled to damages. If they have made any money through this, you would be entitled to recompense, but compensatory damages are intended to make stealing enough of a risk that people don’t do it. At the very least, you can send a Cease and Desist letter.

      BTW, I have found that USPS is one of the most powerful means of sending a message. I was trying to address an issue with someone and sent several e-mails as well as a notification on the company’s website. Nothing. Then I sent a certified letter, return receipt requested, and got an immediate response. When you take the time to write a letter and send through the US Post Office, people know you are serious.

    2. I agree, it doesn’t feel comfortable for someone to do that, Alisa. I had a similar thing that I just happened to come across. A blog post was reprinted in full (attributed to me b/c the content included that, since where I blog there are like 4-5 of us). I didn’t notice at first, but they also had the URL way at the bottom. I contacted them because I felt they shouldn’t reprint like that without asking & I didn’t see the original URL at first. They said it’s an automatic blog post reposting site about Chinese language learning — so they could remove the blog from sites they scan if I preferred, and take down the repost, or it could happen again. Seems like asking before starting would be more considerate. I would’ve said yes.

      There’s also an online journal from Stanford that reprints from blogs and online sources on language learning and education, but at least some of the time they let you know when it’s republished.

      I think free online content gets into more areas of copyright confusion than printed books and articles.

  6. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    Robert, Thanks so much for the info. It’s a free ejournal, so no one is making any $ off my post, and they credited me with the article, but then added a random classroom photo (stock?) to it that I’d never seen.

    1. It’s still using your material without permission, so that is copyright infringement. You can’t have them unpublish it, but you might be able get an apology and promise not to do it again. Do you know anyone who is a lawyer and would send a letter on letterhead for you?

  7. “If people are interested, I can write a longer piece on copyright; the bottom line, though, is this: If you don’t have express permission from the copyright holder, then you don’t have permission to copy, and doing so puts you in the wrong both ethically and legally.” This is what you wrote Robert.

    This why we create our own stories in class. Funny, a music teacher at my school was asking for Thousands of dollard to purchase rights and permissions. Same with the drama teacher. My question is: why dont students create their own music and plays?

  8. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    So Diane, this automatic blog reposting site -it’s not mediated by a human, rather it goes after keywords or something? Then, when the post gets reposted, doesn’t a human have to edit or in some way make a decision on whether to include it, or be responsible for the content not being offensive, etc? In my case they pasted in a picture to my article…the picture had no annotation – I wouldn’t have chosen it – but it is evidence that someone tried to amend my content, isn’t it?
    If anyone finds any rules of etiquette for such a situation, please let me know.

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