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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Jackpot! 5 Ways to Boost Your School's Luck with Storytelling

I am not a gambling person, but I am willing to bet that storytelling would make a difference in any school.

If the art is promoted and supported, then it may not be long before students experience higher test scores and. . .some major life skills.

5 Ways to Boost Your School's Luck with Storytelling:
  • Classroom, School, and District Level Events
  • Training Teachers to Merge Storytelling with Curriculum
  • Storytelling Residencies
  • Games
  • Schools Standards

Classroom, School, and District Level Events
Any state could be a strong youth storytelling state. One classroom could lead to one school and finally one school district who support the art.

In Utah, the following school districts promote storytelling the strongest: Alpine, Davis, Jordan, Morgan, Ogden, and Weber. The Canyons District is in progress to be added to this list. Private and charter schools are becoming more interested due to the Weber State University Storytelling Festival. In February 2010, there were 87 youth tellers invited to tell for the festival. This did not count the hundreds of students who had classroom, school, or district level showcases to determine the top tellers.

Did Utah become this way overnight? No.

Though if you would like a "fast-forward" approach, then nearby festivals need to extend invitations to schools. You may be surprised at who accepts the opportunity.

Training Teachers to Merge Storytelling with Curriculum
A one-time visit from a professional storyteller can have influence, but teachers are with their students on a daily basis. These teachers could take already-made lesson plans and merge storytelling in them.

A book called “Story Proof: The Science Behind the Startling Power of Story” by Kendall Haven shows that test scores do go up when students learn through story-based teaching. The brain seems to feed off stories and remembers facts much more quickly that way.

Storytelling Residencies
Schedule a professional storyteller for more than the "one moment" with the students. When there are 2-8 weeks dedicated to literacy and communication skills, then a storyteller could guide the course through stories.

The lessons linger longer. . .and so do the "happily ever afters".

Any storytelling game could connect with the curriculum. Kids to adults love these activities. Games serve as a way to kick-off a new topic or section, to reinforce concepts, and to review.

Example Game: Mixed-Up Mayhem
Set aside a bowl for each of the following categories or create your own: Status, God of Choice, Daily Activity, Place, and Object. Note that these reflect social, political, religious, geographical and economical areas. On slips of paper, write a word and place in the appropriate bowl.

For a Greek game, here are ideas to put in each bowl—
a. Status—Rich, Middle Class, Poor, Slave
b. God of Choice—Zeus, Hera, Athena, Hephaestus, Ares
c. Daily Activity—Farming, Sailing, Hunting, Wrestling, Attending Wedding, Running Household, Going to School
d. Place—Athens, Sparta, Mediterranean Sea
e. Object—Lyre, Flute, Petasos (broad-rimmed hat), Metal Headband, Tunic, Hairpins, Rattle, Little Clay Animals, Yo-yo, Terra-cotta Dolls, Pet Goat, Pet Mice

Pull a paper from each of the bowls. Create individual or group stories that connect each of the items drawn. Be prepared for stories to go in any direction as long as all words are used.

School Standards
The Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance has a one-page
position statement that could guide states in how to review their school standards.

These standards are not in stone and chiseling the words "story" or "storytelling" into it does not have to be an impossible task.

So take a chance. . .roll the dice. . .and see if you can soon yell "Jackpot! There's storytelling in my school!"

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Tel: (801) 870-5799
Email: info@rachelhedman.com
Family Famine Series Site: http://www.familyfamine.com/

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