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A Storytelling Unit

A Cross-Curricular Unit for Grades 4-6
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Michelle Loewen

on 29 March 2013

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Transcript of A Storytelling Unit

A Cross-Curricular Unit for Grades 4-6 Storytelling Introduction What is Storytelling? Lesson 1: Introduction - People have been telling stories for thousands of years Lesson 2: A Brief History of Storytelling - In this final lesson, students will have the opportunity to create their own cultural story. Lesson 6: Writing and Telling a Cultural Story - This unit can be adapted to younger and older grades - Passing on feelings or thoughts - An interactive experience between a teller and a listener - A sharing of culture, views, ambitions, values, events and traditions - Something that helps maintain memories, describe the present, and envision the future Why Should we Teach Storytelling? - It improves language skills like vocabulary, prediction, sequencing, comprehension, story structure and recall (1) - "Children who engage in the activity learn about history and culture, develop emotionally and have better self-esteem" (1) - Storytelling kindles the imagination to a degree that reading cannot (1) - It is accessible to all ages and abilities (2) How is Storytelling Beneficial Aboriginal Education? One of the elements in the Circle of Courage is mastery: "Competence in traditional cultures is ensured by guaranteed opportunity for mastery...the child can say, 'I can succeed'" (1). Storytelling has great potential to create this spirit of mastery in your students. As students are given the opportunity to develop their imaginations through storytelling, they will begin to see themselves as competent. They will learn how to tell stories and then will be able to create their own stories about things that are important to them. Every child has a story to tell. It may be harder for some then others to find their story, but by learning this art, I believe students will be empowered. Storytelling is one of those things that I believe anyone can succeed at...if they have a sense of belonging... Storytelling "guides young people towards constructive personal values by presenting imaginative situations in which the outcome of both wise and unwise actions can be seen" (2). As educators we want our students to develop personal values. Another element in the Circle of Courage is belonging: "the universal longing for human bonds is cultivated by relationships of trust so that the child can say, "I am loved'" (1). Storytelling has great potential to create this spirit of belonging in students. As they learn to tell stories and are given the opportunity to tell their own stories in an environment that is safe, they will feel that they belong and they will develop more self-confidence. There may be children in your classroom from Aboriginal background, from African descent, from a Mennonite background, etc. They will be given the opportunity to tell stories from their culture. When their "voice" is heard and they are able to talk about themselves, their family and about things that are important to them, I believe they will have that sense of belonging. Also, as students hear about cultures that are not their own (through storytelling), they will learn to value other cultures. This also creates a sense of belonging for children because they feel that they are being valued. By: Michelle Loewen For: Kevin Lamoureux Overview of the Unit This storytelling unit will consist of a variety of elements 2. An introduction to storytelling: What is storytelling? Why should we learn about it? 1. A demonstration of storytelling: What does it look like? 3. A brief history of storytelling 5. Various types of storytelling from different cultures: It will include guest storytellers as well as video clips of storytelling. 6. The elements of storytelling: What makes a good storyteller? 7. Numerous opportunities for students to do their own storytelling: Using a story already known to many; creating their own stories; etc. - You will start by telling the students a story. It could be a story from your life, or a retelling of a folktale, or even a popular fairytale. - Make sure you learn how to tell a story yourself before you present one to your students. You want to model what a good storyteller looks like - "Children Tell Stories: A Teaching Guide" by Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss is a good book to look at to find out about the art of storytelling - What is storytelling? - Why do you think storytelling is important? - What stories have you heard? What is your favourite story? - What is different about storytelling then just reading a book? - See "Introduction" for answers to this question - Ask for suggestions from students before answering it yourself - Again, ask students what they think storytelling is important - Often we learn about cultural values from storytelling: our own cultural values as well as values of other cultures. By learning about other people's cultures and values we learn to value them as well. For people to feel like they belong, we need to learn about who they are, right? - It's fun because we get to use our imaginations - Tell them "that in Africa, there is a saying: Every man dies two deaths. The first, when his body dies. The second, when the last person remembers him dies. Stories, too, die when the last person who knows the story dies. So the trick is not only to know the story, but to make people remember the story, so it will live on and on. Body language and facial expressions are part of making the story memorable, keeping it alive. And after time has passed, the audience will most likely not remember how silly you acted or looked. They will remember enjoying the story. And that means, you did your job as a storyteller". (http://www.planetesme.com/storytelling.html#storytellingbibliography) - Give some examples of stories and maybe some pictures, too. Lesson 1 (Continued) - Talk about what we will be doing in the next few weeks - Learning about the history of storytelling - Learning about how to tell a story - Hearing LOTS of stories from many different places and cultures - Telling your own stories! - Ask students what kinds of stories they would be interested in hearing - Talk about some of the different stories we will be hearing - Aboriginal - African - Stories from your own families - Irish This unit is cross-curricular. It includes elements of: - English Language Arts - Social Studies - Drama - Aesop's Fables - Folktales - Fairy tales - Creation stories (Aboriginal) - Exit Slip: Instruct students to write down two of their favourite stories and why they like them (they can draw pictures to accompany the writing) - For thousands of years we have used storytelling to educate others of values, ethics, and our cultural norms - Start the lesson with a short recap of what was discussed during the previous lesson. - Do you remember what we are going to be learning about in the next few weeks? - What is storytelling? Why do we tell stories? - Have a short group discussion about the history of storytelling (great info cited from Storytellingday.net) - Today, stories are a very important our societies and culture. Where do we get stories from today? - Movies - Books
- Music - Paintings
- Etc. - The influence of storytelling is to be seen in all aspects of our life. - Defining our values, desires, dreams and, as well as our prejudices and hatreds, don’t you want to know how it all began? - Before stories were written down, they were handed over from generation to generation through oral storytelling. Lesson 2: Continued - Oral storytelling is simply stories that were told with gestures and expressions - The history of storytelling is quite ancient. Nobody knows exactly when the first story was told - One of the earliest record of stories: - This picture is of Lascaux Caves in France. These are the earliest cave drawings that we know of and the earliest clues that we have told stories. - Early storytellers would use pictures to help tell each part of the story. - Before writing down stories, storytellers used other things to tell stories. What kinds of things do you think they used? - Some storytellers used carved stones to tell each part of the story. These oral stories were not just for entertainment. - Storytellers were highly influential and respected members of the community - They were a way of teaching others and thinking through things that we did not yet understand, like weather and objects in the night sky. http://www.civilization.ca/cmc/exhibitions/aborig/storytel/mi'k1eng.shtml - Before man learned to write, he had to rely on his memory to learn anything. For this he had to be a good listener. A good storyteller was always respected. He could easily find an audience, eager to devour every exciting bit of information in their stories - These stories were also shared with others in far away lands, when people traveled. The stories traveled with them. And when they returned home, they brought with them exciting new tales of exotic places and people. - One of the oldest surviving tale in storytelling history is the epic, Gilgamesh, relating to the deeds of a famous Sumerian king. The earliest known record in the origin of storytelling can be found in Egypt, when the sons of Cheops entertained their father with stories. - Tell the story of Gilgamesh. A version of it can be found here: http://mesopotamia.mrdonn.org/gilgamesh.html - Stories came in many different varieties: Myths, legends, fairy tales, trickster stories, fables, ghost stories, hero tales, and epic adventures. 2. "The History of Storytelling" videoclip on Youtube Lesson 3: Stories that we Know - Have students do an "exit slip" where they answer the questions: What do you find most interesting about the history of storytelling? Write down at least two things that you find interesting. - In this lesson you will focus on stories that are already familiar. It is important to start with what is familiar to students. - Start the lesson by either telling the story of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" or showing this videoclip. If the video is too childish for your students, the Traditional Storyteller (http://traditionalstoryteller.com/the-three-little-pigs/) has a great version of the story done by Cat Weatherhill. It can be purchased as an iPad or an iPhone App. - Explain that we can learn to tell stories that we already know! We don't have to learn brand new ones right away. Yes, we could just read the story of Goldilocks, but sometimes it's even more fun to tell it! Why do you think that is? - Because we get to use our imaginations! We can have pictures in our heads of what the story is like. - Because we can use lots of expression and actions when we tell it! - After hearing a familiar story being told, take some time for an "interactive story time". Ask students to think of a story that they know (could be a story from their life or another story) - Put students in groups of 3 or 4 depending on the size of your class. Explain that each student will get a chance to tell the story that they have thought of. - Remind them that they don't have books, so they can't show pictures. That means they need to use lots of expression and even actions to tell their story. - You haven't taught them the "art of storytelling" yet which is ok. The purpose of this exercise is to get children comfortable with the idea of storytelling and to get them excited about it. - It is important to do this exercise in small groups as opposed to the whole class because there may be children in your class who are not yet comfortable with speaking in front of the whole class. - It is so important to create that sense of belonging and a safe environment in your classroom. When students feel that they belong and that they are safe, they learn better and be more engaged. Doing this activity in small groups will do this. - Remind your students of the importance of respecting their peers by being good listeners. - As they are telling their stories, circulate around the classroom. Listen to how the children are telling their stories. Make observations of those who are participating and those who are not. - After the activity, meet back as a whole class. Have a brief discussion about how it went. What was good? What was not so good? Was it fun? Etc. Lesson 4: Aboriginal Storytelling - This lesson will take more than one day. It could potentially take a whole week - In this lesson your students will learn about Aboriginal storytelling. First, they will learn about the background of Aboriginal storytelling. Then they will hear numerous storytellers present Aboriginal stories. At the end of this lesson students will be able to create their own Aboriginal story and present it to the class. - Aboriginal Storytelling Background - to gain an understanding of the history and importance of Aboriginal storytelling (taken from an excellent "Government of Canada" website entitled "Our Voices, Our Stories: First Nations, Metis, and Inuit Stories" - http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/stories/020020-4000-e.html) - - "Among Canada's culturally diverse population, there are approximately 1.3 million First Nations, Métis and Inuit people. Demographic projections suggest the population of First Nations and Métis people will continue to grow. These statistics, coupled with a continuing increase in immigration, indicate a strong need for cross-cultural awareness. As Canadian citizens, we need to interact and communicate among diverse groups of people. We must also continue to refine our cross-cultural skills, knowledge and values if we are to effectively promote multiculturalism and equality within our communities." - "There is a difference between ordinary storytelling and Aboriginal storytelling" - "Traditional Aboriginal storytellers earned the right to be a storyteller. They were important in teaching and in preserving the history of the group." - "Traditional stories contain some of the most authentic content and perspective of Aboriginal peoples." - Aboriginal stories are usually one of the following: a creation story; a story that explains a natural phenomenon (eg why the sky is blue); or a story that explains the origin of a custom. - Over the course of this lesson, give students many opportunities to hear, watch, or listen to Aboriginal stories. Here are some suggestions: - The Millenium Library has something called the "Aboriginal Reading-in-the-Round" area. There are thousands of items to borrow such as books, DVDs, etc. The main floor "Aboriginal Reading-in-the-Round" holds events such as storytelling, author readings, dance, and singing. This would be a great place to take your students to hear some Aboriginal storytelling and to look at Aboriginal literature. Visit: http://wpl.winnipeg.ca/library/pdfs/ARR.pdf. Lesson 4: Continued - Ideas for Aboriginal storytelling (Cont'd) - There are many other ways you can bring Aboriginal storytelling into your classroom. One way is to actually bring in a guest storyteller or two. It would be best if the storytellers were Aboriginal themselves. Having an actual storyteller come in who is knowledgeable in Aboriginal stories is a great way for your students to learn about Aboriginal stories. - The University of Manitoba has a site called "Regional Storytellers". On that page is a list of storytellers in the Winnipeg area along with a description of each storyteller. There are a couple of names on that page of people who tell Aboriginal stories. An idea would be to contact one of these people (or both) and ask them to come in as a guest storyteller. - Joe McLellan (http://www.joemclellan.ca/): a storyteller, writer, and educator. He wrote the acclaimed Nanabosho Series based on Ojibway legends in order to make Aboriginal stories and storybooks available for Aboriginal children. - James Queskekapow: originally from Norway House, tells the Cree stories that were passed down to him from his father. He has been sharing these stories publicly for the past six years. - Another idea would be to ask an Aboriginal elder (or another Aboriginal person) to come in and share a story with your class. - Contact Circle of Life: Thunderbird House: http://www.thunderbirdhouse.com - There are also many Aboriginal storytelling videos you can access online. Below are a few examples. - After listening to each Aboriginal story, half a short discussion with your students about the story they heard. What was the main theme/message? What did you like about it? What did you find interesting or even strange? - If you have Aboriginal students in your class, ask them if they recognized any of these stories. Ask them if they know any other Aboriginal stories and give them a chance to share them with the class if they want. Always make sure to build that sense of belonging in your classroom. - After each story, get your students to write a short summary (a few sentences) about the story. Then after they have heard them all, get them to write a short reflection about what their favourite story was and why. Also encourage them to draw pictures of the stories. Lesson 4: Continued - After learning about Aboriginal storytelling and hearing numerous stories, your students will have the opportunity to tell their own Aboriginal story. - Before actually telling their own stories, students need to be taught how to tell a story - the art of storytelling. - Talk about voice projection: making sure you speak loudly enough for everyone to hear - Eye contact is also really important. When telling a story, each listener should feel like the story is being told just to them. Eye contact makes people feel that way. There may be students who are too shy to make eye contact yet. Tell your students that if they don't want to make eye contact, just look at the tops of people's heads. - Using expression in your voice is also very important in storytelling. You do this by employing variety in your voice, facial gestures, pauses, and volume. - Body language is another important element in the art of storytelling. - The above information is from "Storytelling!" (http://www.planetesme.com/storytelling.html#storytellingbibliography) - This website has a lot of great information on teaching the art of storytelling, as well as many good activities you can do with your students to help them learn and practice storytelling. It also gives ideas about projects students can do to create their own stories. - There is an excellent project/assignment on "Library and Archives Canada" (http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/stories/020020-4006-e.html) entitled "Writing a Cultural Story". Parts of the following project come from this project. 1. Teacher will bring in a selection of stories to class. Students will (individually or in small groups) familiarize themselves with these books. 2. As a class, discuss and identify the common elements found in the stories (moral of the story, explanation of a phenomenon, etc.). Once your students are more familiar with the genre, they will be able to begin writing their own story. - Bring in a selection of Aboriginal stories (can be obtained at libraries or even online print-outs) - Put students in pairs. Each pair will pick a story and familiarize themselves with it (reading it over at least two or three times). They will discuss with their partner what kind of story it is. Is it a Creation story? Is it a story that explains some natural phenomenon? Is it a story that explains the origin of a custom? Or is it about something else? - Students will find out the beginning, middle, and end of the story. Instruct them to memorize these parts as best as they can. Then they need to draw a "storyboard". They will draw small pictures of the important events in the story. Pictures that will help them remember what comes next. - Students will discuss whether or not their story needs a prop of some kind. After they have done all of this, they will be given time to rehearse. They will tell their stories in pairs, so they need to make sure that both group members get an equal amount of time to talk. Who will say what? - The following day students will be given a little bit more time to rehearse (while you circulate through the classroom, assisting those who need it). - Then it is story time! Each pair will get the chance to share their story with the class. First they will say what the name of the story is, followed by the story with a short time for questions/comments at the end. - Again, by sharing stories like this, students will develop the spirit of mastery and belonging. Lesson 5: Storytelling from other Cultures - Similar to lesson four, lesson five will take longer than just one day. It could take a few days. - It is important for your students to learn about Aboriginal culture and storytelling, but you will have more than just Aboriginal children in your class. You may have children from a variety of different cultural background, or you may have children that are mostly from the same cultural background. Regardless, it is important to teach your students about storytelling in other cultures. - The following are some suggestions of cultures you could incorporate, but choose cultures based on the students in your classroom. For example, if you happen to have some Filipino students in your class, then you could potentially look at cultural storytelling in the Philippines instead of looking at storytelling in Ireland. It is important to do this because you want your students to feel like they belong. If you are learning about their culture, they will feel like they belong and are appreciated. - This lesson will look similar to the first part of the "Aboriginal Storytelling" lesson in that students will be able to hear/watch numerous storytellings from a variety of cultures. - African Storytelling - Irish Storytelling - Hutterite Storytelling - African American Storytelling - Following this will be some sources that you can use in your classroom for African, Irish, Hutterite, and African American Storytelling. There will not be information on the background of these cultures. - For each culture that you decide to do, make sure you give a brief background to that culture. For example, if you are going to learn about Chinese storytelling, make sure you give your students a brief background to the Chinese people and culture. African Storytelling African Creation Story Caribbean Version of African Tale: "Anansi and the Snake" Arit's Fables: Jabu & the Lion The Monkey's Fiddle - Audio Only Irish Storytelling Storyteller Clare Murphy (http://www.claremurphy.org/): she is a storyteller from Ireland who is currently in residence at the University of Manitoba. Here is an example of her storytelling Storyteller Michael R. Kason-O'Malley tells
"Bridgette & Lurikeen" An "Introduction to Storytelling, Myths and Legends" (Irish Storytelling): http://www.bbc.co.uk/northernireland/schools/11_16/storyteller/pdf/gen_notes_all.pdf John Buchanan - a regional storyteller originally from Scotland: http://umanitoba.ca/colleges/st_pauls/mauro_centre/outreach/storytelling/regional_tellers.html Storyteller Mike Lockett telling "The Peddler of Ballaghdreen" - an Irish story: http://www.mikelockett.com/video_player.php?vid=4 Hutterite Storyteller In Winnipeg schools (or other urban schools), Hutterite storytelling probably wouldn't be very meaningful because very few students will be familiar with Hutterites. However, there are many Hutterite colonies in Manitoba, and many children in rural school divisions will be at least somewhat familiar with this group of people. There are also students in rural and urban schools who are from ex-Hutterite families who would find it very meaningful to learn about this kind of storytelling. These students will definitely feel that sense of belonging. Dora Maendel is a regional storyteller. She is a "high school English teacher at the Fairholme Hutterite Colony near St. Claude. She tells vivid stories based on Hutterite folktales and true stories told to her by her parents and grandparents. http://umanitoba.ca/colleges/st_pauls/mauro_centre/outreach/storytelling/regional_tellers.html African-American Storytelling "African and African American Storytelling" - a background: http://www.ncmuseumofhistory.org/collateral/articles/s02.african.american.storytelling.pdf "African-American Storytelling: 'The Jackal and the Dog' (this story addresses slavery in the 1700s and the life or death choice between freedom [the jackal] or slavery [the dog]) - http://www.history.org/history/teaching/enewsletter/volume2/february04/dogandjackal.cfm Diane Ferlatte Singing and Telling "Hambone" Diane Ferlatte - "Brer Rabbit" African American Storyteller Diane Ferlatte: http://www.dianeferlatte.com/ **An extension to this lesson: Valerie Clancy is a "storyteller who uses stories, folktales, and legends to help children and youth develop their self-esteem. Her experience as a social worker working with children fuels her passionate for helping youth express their feelings and develop positive self-talk. Valerie visits schools and libraries around the city telling stories to young people" (http://umanitoba.ca/colleges/st_pauls/mauro_centre/outreach/storytelling/regional_tellers.html) **A great idea would be to get Valerie to visit your class as a storyteller. Storytelling has such great potential to develop self-esteem in children. - After hearing/watching so many stories, and telling their own stories, students will be well-equipped to create their own cultural story. 3. Once your students are familiar with cultural stories, they will begin to create a story of their own. Students can create a story from their own cultural perspective, from their family background/history, or they may select a familiar cultural story to change and re-write. 4. If the student creates his/her own cultural story, it should include one or more of the following: - An explanation of a belief about the world (eg the importance of community) - A moral (eg why honesty is important) - The origin of a custom (eg why people wave to say goodbye) - The origin of a natural phenomenon (eg why the leopard has spots) - Something that is unique to that culture - Make sure your students run their topic by you first before they start making their stories. 5. If the student wants to create a story based on his family background/history, the following instructions should be given: - Students can interview a relative, listen to their stories. - With permission, the student can record the interviews, then re-write a story that was told. - The student can interview a person from that culture (like an Aboriginal Elder, for example) to help them create their story. Lesson 6: Continued 6. If the student re-writes a familiar story they may: - Select a fairytale, fable, myth, or a favourite cultural story - Change the setting, introduce new characters or remove characters - Modify the beginning, climax or resolution - Change the moral or lesson learned, etc. 7. Students should start by writing their story, but when they actually tell the story, they should be telling it, not reading it. 8. When finished writing the story, they can create a storyboard to help plan how they will tell their story. They can draw pictures of the main parts of the story. The pictures help them to know what is coming next. - Some suggestions for your students when preparing their stories and the actually storytelling: - Choose an object that is significant to the story. Display the object as an introduction to what is to follow. Use the object to generate interest in the story. - Start and keep a tradition that adds colour or mystery to storytelling such as using a colourful mask or other item. - Use a lot of gestures and vary your voice. For example, use different voices for each character, change your voice as the plot thickens, or place emphasis on specific words. - Have your story require participation from your listeners. For example, a story could require the group to chant a rhyme, answer a question or do an action or dance. - Laughter is important. Sing and chant loudly. Have fun with it! Bring the story to life! - Memorize the opening and closing of the story, important key phrases, refrains, dialogues, morals, etc. - Try performing your story in front of a mirror. - It is assumed that students already have knowledge of the parts of a story (beginning, middle, end, climax, plot, etc.) prior to this unit. - Don't rush this part of the unit. Give your students lots of time to create their stories. You want them to feel comfortable when it comes time to tell their story. - While students are creating their stories, make sure that you are affirming them throughout the process. We want students to feel like they have succeeded. Creating their own stories about things that are important to them will play a part in doing this. Tell Your Story - After preparing their stories, each student will have the opportunity to tell their story to the rest of the class. - This is meant to be a relaxed, laid back time. You could make it a "coffeehouse" sort of atmosphere (except without coffee) - Bring in cushions, bean bag chairs, throw blankets, etc. You could also bring in some lamps and area rugs. Create a warm, comfortable, and relaxing area in your classroom (or another room if that is an option) with these things. You want your students to be able to tell their stories in a safe and comfortable environment. - Have snacks and drinks for the event as well (you could ask some parents to bring in some snacks). - Set aside a whole afternoon for this. If your class is big and you find students are getting antsy, then you could split it up into two afternoons. - Each child will get to tell their story. If there are some who are still not comfortable with sharing their story in front of the whole class, don't push it. Allow them to share it just with you, or even in a small group at a later date. - Before doing this event, make sure you discuss with your students the importance of being good listeners. Talk to them about how everyone wants to feel like they belong and that they are safe. When we are showing each other respect by listening and participating in the story, we are helping others to feel like they belong and that they are safe. Conclusion and Assessment - Lesson 5 (the one about storytelling from other cultures) doesn't have to all be done in one chunk. It can be spread out throughout the unit or even just over a long period of time. It isn't necessary that this unit be completed in exactly three weeks. It can be shorter or it can be spread out over a few months. - Another note to make is that you should be getting your students to compare/contrast stories as you go through the unit. Assessment Ideas - Do a lot of informal observations throughout the unit taking note of participation, engaging in the learning, respected peers, etc. - Do assessment on the exit slips (just that they completed them and wrote something that made sense). - Do a formal assessment on the final cultural story project. Mark for participation, clarity of the story, creativity, etc. Cited from: http://prezi.com/vjh8cwljxvf1/storytelling-unit/ - Storytelling has the potential to create a love of story which could later translate into a love of books that will last for life. (1) - "Storytelling can encourage students to explore their unique expressiveness and can heighten a student's ability to communicate thoughts and feelings in an articulate, lucid manner." (2) - Storytelling can be a "nurturing way of reminding children that their spoken words are powerful, that listening is important, and that clear communication between people is an art." (2) 1. http://www.planetesme.com/storytelling.html#storytellingbibliography 2. http://www.storyarts.org/classroom/index.html#more 1. http://www.edu.gov.mb.ca/k12/cur/cardev/gr9_found/courage_poster.pdf 2. http://www.storyarts.org/classroom/index.html#more 4. Aboriginal Storytelling 1. http://www.storytellingday.net/history-of-storytelling-how-did-storytelling.html Much info cited from:
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