Eldon Primary School were working towards improving the speaking and writing skills of the pupils (for whom most had English as a second language) by reading and telling stories. The Head Teacher asked us to create workshop to help her staff of 28 to tell stories to best effect.
Our Lifting the Story off the Page workshop would provide a process for teachers to firstly explore and interpret any written story, then using practical exercises develop the content of the story while improving their own style of delivery and confidence to perform. The first half of the workshop explored and deconstructed Little Red Riding Hood, through a combination of individual thinking and writing and interactive discussion. Once the foundation and essential elements of the story were found we moved in to the hall for the practical work. Each teacher developed their own interpretation of the story, taking inspiration from what they were interested in or enjoyed and sharing this enthusiasm through their delivery to their audience.
The teachers left happy and confident, with a set of techniques to invigorate and colour how they both read and tell stories. Less confident storytellers were noticeably louder, more expressive and comfortable by the end of the workshop. Teachers were excited to have a way to make stories their own, to interpret them (without losing the plot) so stories could be more relevant, interactive, fun and thought provoking.
Following a recommendation we were contacted, by the Head, about what INSET we could provide to inspire and develop pupils’ writing, especially with able children. The workshop would need to take in to account the different ages the teachers worked with
We suggested a day of storytelling training that would enable the staff to confidently put down their books and enchant and inspire their class with stories. The training also included ways in which to facilitate activities to inspire young writers to create work of greater variety and imagination. The training was based upon our own experience and success of using storytelling to ignite children’s imaginations and enthusiasm for writing.
The practical nature of the workshop allowed the participants to understand the use of storytelling through the experience of doing it and by placing themselves in the children’s shoes. The staff finished the day with a long list of new ways to use storytelling with their classes and as a team. Later the same week we delivered a storytelling workshop to Year 2, while an OFSTED inspector visited, who was very impressed with our activity and the school received ‘good with outstanding features’ across the board.
”It reminded me of the importance and strength of storytelling and how widely it can impact on learning.”
Workshop Participant, INSET day Hartsbourne School, HertsBack to educations
Cambridge Education @ Islington run an annual conference aimed at providing junior and primary schools teachers with additional tools with which to bring reading and writing to life within the classroom. They were looking to add to their list of authors and poets, who delivered both talks and workshops, by offering a masterclass in storytelling.
We were asked to create and deliver 2 x 90-minute workshops to help teachers working with children from nursery through to year six to become more confident, fluent and creative storytellers. Within our workshop, we taught participants a process which enabled them to each read a traditional folktale and make it their own. Through a series of exercises they each discovered their own voice and ability as storytellers, and finished the session with note-free performances.
The participants were delighted to find they were able to learn, personalise and tell a story in such a short period of time. In the discussion at the end, they shared ways in which they would be able to translate and apply the techniques within their work, not only to improve their communication, but also to improve that of their pupils. Cambridge @ Islington were so pleased with the feedback they received regarding our sessions, we were invited back for the following year’s conference, to teach a further masterclass on creating group stories.
‘”It has made me so enthusiastic to tell my class a story”
Participant Islington Primary Schools Conference
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Everybody Writes is an approach to writing aimed at making it enjoyable and relevant for young people. To launch themselves within Croydon, they had a day of activities for primary school English teachers to help them develop their own creativity and understand how to plan new and exciting projects. TheWholeStory were asked to provide a practical element to the day.
Our section of the day was to be both fun, informative, relevant, challenging and creative. We started with storytelling performance to model the differences and benefits of telling stories without the aid of books, before going through the process of preparing a story for performance.
By the end of the morning, we had a great atmosphere with everyone on their feet layering up their story, creating their own unique versions. The session ended by reflecting on what had been learned, how it could best be applied back in their schools to help children with their writing. We also shared a selection of our favourite writing activities stimulated by storytelling.