Tell Me A Story!

31 Aug

 

Welcome to Monday’s Muse! Every Monday morning of the school term in 2014, Write Away With Me posts an open ended writing and/or storytelling activity that you can try with your class or your children at home.

After a recent storytelling workshop, a young teacher stopped me and asked, “How do you get the kids to listen to you like that? You had them … mesmerised.” Now let’s face it, children these days can be a tough audience to impress. They’re accustomed to a continuous stream of instant high tech infotainment. At any one time, they’ll be listening to an ipod, watching T.V and/or playing on their ipad. Sometimes all at once. But the latest research shows that this constant multitasking makes it difficult for children to focus their attention on a single outcome. (No kidding!) And all too often, children are passive participants in these activities, so the opportunity to think creatively and activate their imagination may be limited.

So why then, is something as simple as storytelling, so engaging?

The teacher who described the effect of storytelling as ‘memerising’ was pretty close to the truth. A great story simultaneously engages the child’s physical, mental and sensory channels. When a child in your class is immersed in a story, they are not only interpreting complex information, they are visualising it, they are feeling it. And if the immersion is deep enough, they can momentarily lose track of time and ‘travel’ to a different space. Their eyes open wide. They start to imitate the teller’s facial expressions. Their breathing slows a little. They hang on every word. The storyteller also experiences this change of energy. The story itself may be fictional but the storytelling experience shared by both the teller and the listeners, is very real. And just a little bit magical…

So if a child is actively listening and I have their undivided attention, storytelling can become a powerful teaching tool?

Yes definitely – there’s only one condition really. For all this valuable learning to take place, the listener must feel connected to the teller. In a busy classroom, I think we sometimes underestimate the importance of giving the children our full attention but storytelling demands this of us. It snaps us right back to the present moment. Before Ibegin telling a story, I gather the children around me so I see each of their faces, especially their eyes. I tell them about an invisible string the reaches from their eyes to mine and that the story travels along this string to them and their feelings travel back to me. This exchange is exactly why storytelling builds trust and creates community. Sharing stories connects us to each other. And to think that all this can take place in your classroom or home with no costly resources or special high tech gadgets. No gimmicks at all really. Just you, the kids and a story. Okay, want to get started?

Here are three quick storytelling possibilities you can try today:

• Children love to hear stories about their teachers and parents. Think back to what it was like to be the same age as the students you teach. Tell them what life was like for you. How have things changed? What games did you play? Who were your friends? What pets did you have? Did you know any funny characters? Let them ask questions. Your personal stories will creep out of the crevices of your memory and come to life right before your eyes.

• Find an extended joke that has a beginning, middle and an end so it’s easy to remember. You’ll have them not only listening but laughing along with you. On second thoughts, better find a couple of jokes – guaranteed they will want an encore.

• Re- tell a favourite fairy tale, folk tale or a fable. These stories live in our memory and can be easily adapted and extended to suit your audience.

Interested in reading more? Check out these blog posts and our Pinterest boards relating to storytelling!

After 25 years teaching experience, from Early Childhood to VCE, Beth Cregan combined her passion for books, writing and storytelling to launch ‘Write Away With Me’. Now in its fourth year, Write Away With Me offers a wide range of original and creative storytelling and writing workshops across Victoria. Our high energy workshops cover a wide range of writing styles/genres and a flexible approach, means it’s possible to tailor the experience to match the needs of your students and your school. Interested in booking a workshop for your class? Check out the range of storytelling and writing workshops today! Workshops for secondary classes and Professional Development programs are also popular.

Random Advice

24 Aug

 

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Welcome to Monday’s Muse! Every Monday morning of the school term in 2014, Write Away With Me posts an open ended writing and/or storytelling activity that you can try with your class or your children at home.

Our imagination is an incredible thinking tool. It allows us to build mental images and reach well beyond both real and sensual boundaries. So are you ready for a little creative thinking this morning? In this activity, you’re encouraging flexible thinking as your students look for interesting similarities between a range of inanimate objects and their own lives.

First step is to read through Advice From A Tree (above) and discuss how this advice  relates to both trees and humans. You may need to highlight some of the language. For example, what does it mean ‘to go out on a limb?’ How might this relate to both trees and humans?

Next, brainstorm a list of possible objects that could be used for this writing activity. Some good possibilities include objects such as doors, windows, basketball or even a key.

Once students have selected their object, encourage them to focus initially on one or two pieces of advice. To be most effective, the advice needs to ring true for both the object and humans which requires students to play with images, words, and phrases.

I love this sort of writing activity. Don’t expect the activity to be finished straight away. It may require a little tweeking and refining over the week as ideas slowly surface and come to life.

Happy writing!

Beth Cregan

After 25 years teaching experience, from Early Childhood to VCE, Beth Cregan combined her passion for books, writing and storytelling to launch ‘Write Away With Me’. Now in its fourth year, Write Away With Me offers a wide range of original and creative storytelling and writing workshops across Victoria. Our high energy workshops cover a wide range of writing styles/genres and a flexible approach, means it’s possible to tailor the experience to match the needs of your students and your school. Interested in booking a workshop for your class? Check out the range of storytelling and writing workshops today! Workshops for secondary classes and Professional Development programs are also popular.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Literature Inspired Writing Prompts

19 Aug

Welcome to Monday’s Muse! Every Monday morning of the school term in 2014, Write Away With Me posts an open ended writing and/or storytelling activity that you can try with your class or your children at home.

It’s been an exciting time across Australian schools over the last couple of  weeks as we celebrate Book Week 2014! Spotlight was busy place on Saturday morning with children (and their parents) searching for props and fabric and inspiration for costumes! So to celebrate Book Week,  Monday’s Muse is sharing three literature inspired writing ideas.

Not so long ago, I started collecting my childhood books and as I add to this collection, I see, again and again, the links these books have, with the person I am today. ( You can read about my favourite childhood books here). It got me thinking that it would be great to encourage children to see the links between them and their favourite books and characters. So here goes…

1.

You could share the blog post above which reflects on the links between some of my favourite stories and the person I am today. Or better still, you could share some of your own favourite books and why you love them. Then ask your young writers to choose one book and write about why they love this book and any links they can see between their life and either the themes or the characters from this story. Do a quick brainstorm first to encourage lots of ideas and connections.

2.

If you could meet any character in any story, who would you choose to meet and why?

3.

If you could swap places with a literary character, who would you choose? What exact scene in the story would you choose to change places and why.

Happy Writing!

 

After 25 years teaching experience, from Early Childhood to VCE, Beth Cregan combined her passion for books, writing and storytelling to launch ‘Write Away With Me’. Now in its fourth year, Write Away With Me offers a wide range of original and creative storytelling and writing workshops across Victoria. Our high energy workshops cover a wide range of writing styles/genres and a flexible approach, means it’s possible to tailor the experience to match the needs of your students and your school. Interested in booking a workshop for your class? Check out the range of storytelling and writing workshops today! Workshops for secondary classes and Professional Development programs are also popular.

 

 

 

 

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Developing A Daily Writing Practice: Journal Prompts

10 Aug

Welcome to Monday’s Muse! Every Monday morning of the school term in 2014, Write Away With Me posts an open ended writing and/or storytelling activity that you can try with your class or your children at home.

Our main focus for The Writer’s Club this term, is to foster a daily writing practice. To this end, we are busy creating resources to assist us. We have set up our writing spaces, made a 3 Year Sentence A Day Diary and this week, we’re exploring the art of keeping a journal. So I went in search for a new set of journal writing prompts and by chance, came across this list of 26 Questions Every Student Should Be Able To Answer . Whilst it may need to be adapted to suit younger students, these questions give young writers the opportunity to reflect and explore their experience of life and learning. The link above, will provide a wide range of options/activities for using these questions with your students.  I’ve prepared ten of these questions for our club members this week. You can download the ten prompts here.

 

Happy writing!

Beth Cregan

After 25 years teaching experience, from Early Childhood to VCE, Beth Cregan combined her passion for books, writing and storytelling to launch ‘Write Away With Me’. Now in its fourth year, Write Away With Me offers a wide range of original and creative storytelling and writing workshops across Victoria. Our high energy workshops cover a wide range of writing styles/genres and a flexible approach, means it’s possible to tailor the experience to match the needs of your students and your school. Interested in booking a workshop for your class? Check out the range of storytelling and writing workshops today! Workshops for secondary classes and Professional Development programs are also popular.

 

A Picture Paints A Thousand Words

04 Aug

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Welcome to Monday’s Muse! Every Monday morning of the school term in 2014, Write Away With Me posts an open ended writing and/or storytelling activity that you can try with your class or your children at home.

A photograph seizes a moment. And this photo in particualr, has inspired some great stories. It comes from a wonderful website called Anonomous Legacy. You’ll find a great collection of black and white photos here to use for writing.

But today, I’m suggesting a slightly different spin with this visual prompt.

Ask your students to look carefully at the picture and then try to describe what happened in the split seconds before and/or after the photograph was taken.

Perhaps as a class, you could look for clues are in the picture before you start writing and plotting.

  • Could this character have been on his way to a function?
  • What might he be looking at?
  • Where is he and how might he have got there?

There are no right or wrong answers. We’re just posing a range of possibilities. We’re just having fun with words and pictures.

Here’s two more options:

  1. Give your students 3 Post It Notes and use these and the photo to create a visual storyboard with the photo appearing somewhere in the middle of the story. This is especially good for visual learners and emerging writers. The storyboard could be used to plan a narrative or studenst could tell the story to a partner or the whole class.
  2. Ask students to get into pairs. Together they will create the before and after story inspired by this photo. They can then present their ideas to the class with one student telling what happened before and one will telling what happened after. Great storytelling possibilities here as well as encouraging your students to think logically and creatively – a left and right brain workout!

Happy Writing!

Beth Cregan

After 25 years teaching experience, from Early Childhood to VCE, Beth Cregan combined her passion for books, writing and storytelling to launch ‘Write Away With Me’. Now in its fourth year, Write Away With Me offers a wide range of original and creative storytelling and writing workshops across Victoria. Our high energy workshops cover a wide range of writing styles/genres and a flexible approach, means it’s possible to tailor the experience to match the needs of your students and your school. Interested in booking a workshop for your class? Check out the range of storytelling and writing workshops today! Workshops for secondary classes and Professional Development programs are also popular.

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