By Kim Davenport, MKEA Regional Coordinator, Central Region
A Worcester Kindergarten teacher recently shared an update on her use of Storytelling-Story Acting. In her classroom of 28 students 22 were identified as DLLs at the beginning of the school year. She began implementing Storytelling-Story Acting in late January. She found the implementation easy and transformative for her students. Here’s a glimpse at what it looks like…
At breakfast time, each morning, I sit with the leader of the day and s/he tells me a story. I write what the student says. The story can be as short as the child wants or as long as the page. Later on in the day, after lunch I say, “It’s that time of day!” and the students say, “It’s time for our play!” as they move to the “stage” and sit down anxiously awaiting who gets chosen to be the actors. Not only do the students enjoy the one-on-one time with me in the morning telling me their story, but they are learning so much in the 2-8 minutes during the play. (The average play only takes 3 minutes!)
When I first started I did not guide the storyteller in any way, but now that the year has progressed I use the time to push students to the next level in his/her story development. I may guide them for more descriptive words, or more character development, or I may make spelling mistakes or forget punctuation to see if the student notices and corrects me. The guidance I provide depends on the individual student. An enormous amount of one-on-one learning occurs in just two to five minutes each morning. In addition, the students look forward to their storytelling day because they know they have the teacher’s full attention while telling any story they want to share. No rules, no set topic, no starter sentence or literature response, no sentence frames and the pressure of needing to sound out and spell words is gone. The stage is theirs – literally!
Acting out the story is another amazing learning opportunity. In a classroom of 28 students, 22 of whom are English language learners in different stages of their knowledge of the English language, I was worried that acting out the story would be difficult. It wasn’t, and it isn’t! I read the story while the chosen actors act out the parts they were given by the author to play. Some children just need to be a house or a tree while others are animals or aliens or superheroes or the mom. Students are just as excited to be randomly chosen as the audience as they are to be chosen to be an actor or part of the setting. In this few minutes, they are learning so much about characters, setting, vocabulary, teamwork, and listening. I could go on and on about the emotional, social, language and academic benefits of storytelling and story acting in just 10 minutes or less each school day. It is an easy to implement activity in which the only materials needed are a notebook and a pencil. ~ Diane Smith, Kindergarten Teacher, Worcester, MA
Consider how this powerful technique can support your goals for individual children and help you support their development and learning. The documentation happens naturally. The stories are written, the acting can be captured on video or with a photograph, and the connections to learning innumerable.