To start the conversation over the stories in the most basic way, I decided on questions. Read the story out loud to them, then go back over it asking obvious questions.
With the first year students, it worked great. With the second year, it bombed disgracefully. I put both them and myself to sleep. With the Threes, it was desultory, so-so.
The difference between the Twos and Threes was the Twos had not seen the story before and they were unfamiliar with a good deal of it; on top of that, it was mostly dialogue and I couldn’t make sensible questions out of it. That was lack of preparation on my part. So I backed up to the previous story, but by that time, everyone was bored.
Both the Twos and Threes made heroic efforts to play along, but there was no positive energy. Sadly, the Threes commented that it was very much like their first year when the teacher had them translate everything. (Not a slam against translation, just against the way it was carried out)
So I assigned questions each story, thankfully, had [isn’t that a perfectly normal usage – thankfully – and the same as hopefully, which the grammar mavens condemn?]. I have bigger and better plans for tomorrow.
Lesson: Ones are more easily engaged at the basic level; advanced students need more meat. Read the story carefully [same as thankfully and hopefully?] before hand so I know just how I am going to carry out my brilliant ideas.