Why Does a School Want a Storyteller?
Whether in a one-hour assembly or a long-term residency, storytelling is whole-language learning brought to life. A school-wide storytelling program is a process rather than a package. Because each school is like a little city, and each class a unique neighborhood, the skill levels, curricula needs and goals differ. After consultation with teachers, classroom programs can be shaped into thematic units that become connective links to geography, social studies, ecology, ethics and values, creative writing, literacy education, English as A Second Language, or theater arts. Storytelling can easily be the oral language component for an established lesson plan.
The oral tradition is our "first literature" world-wide. Both empathy and understanding are encouraged when students join together to hear stories of wonder and wisdom from a multitude of cultures.
Note: Faculty in-service workshops are a valuable addition when initiating a storytelling project. Some schools select a residency of six to eight weeks for one grade level only. Others choose a series of performances for each classroom in a quarter, a semester, or year-long schedule.
The following examples of successful thematic classroom programs can be self-contained, or presented with follow-up activities. Each one can be reshaped to fit into a lesson plan in collaboration with teachers. Throughout, classroom teachers absorb new teaching techniques, while being able to observe their own students in a learning environment that is primarily oral and auditory. Teachers often comment that their most disruptive students are transfixed by storytelling, that non-readers become active interpreters of meaning, and that the shy ones are willing to join in the fun.
Wits and Courage! Heroic children throughout the world. Students will recognize their own fears, hopes,and unique talents through young fairy tale characters who face giants, witches, trolls and troubles. Between "once upon a time" and "they lived happily ever after", children are enthralled by the quick wits, humor, courage, and friendship necessary to overcome great obstacles. All ages including high school.
What is a Storyteller? Students experience the dramatic art of storytelling while learning about the oral tradition. Listening skills are strengthened. Auditory learners thrive and receive new respect. Universal themes are explored through multi-cultural material. Second grade and up.
Why does that mosquito buzz? Through a multi-cultural selection of Pourquoi Tales and myths, students explore nature, weather, geography and the environment to discover that observation of details is as important in literature as it is in science. Second grade and up.
Listen, Illustrate, Write. Using storytelling as the inspiration, students illustrate what they have visualized while listening. Students learn the essential elements of a narrative, and write original fairy tales, folk tales, or myths. (Original stories become the text for word processing skills in the Computer Lab where students create their own story books.) Second grade and up.
Students as Collectors, Interpreters and Tellers of Tales. Students learn the techniques of choosing and telling stories. While developing confidence in oral presentations, students learn to critique and encourage their peers. Older students become storytellers for the lower grades. Fourth grade and up; Excellent choice for middle school.