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     Children Tell Stories: Teaching and Using
     Storytelling in the Classroom, Second Edition
 

                                   
by Martha Hamilton &  Mitch Weiss    
 
 

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      Item #545
      2005 pb  288 est. pages  
      ISBN 1-57274-663-7       $29.95

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Children Tell Stories
includes the  multimedia DVD, Children Telling Stores: A Story Telling Unit in Action, which contains interviews of parents and teachers, demonstrations of storytelling use in classrooms, and 25 printable stories. DVD not available separately.





     

Aimed at teachers of grades K-8, this second edition of an Anne Izard Storyteller's Choice Award-winning book provides clear and detailed directions for teaching storytelling. This resource offers extensive tips for integrating storytelling into the curriculum, shows how storytelling links to state standards, and provides extensive bibliographies for all aspects of storytelling.


 

 
         
         
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    Preface
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Preface:



Since the first edition of this book came out in 1990, the perception of storytelling as an educational tool has undergone a major transformation. At one time thought to be a “frill,” used mainly for the entertainment of  young children, storytelling is now seen as a valuable tool for all levels of education. The evidence is everywhere. There are countless books and articles by informed authorities on the power of narrative as a teaching tool from preschool through college. The authors of these publications recommend the use of story in all subject areas, even such seemingly unlikely ones as mathematics and science.

The new State Standards for Education, which have been adopted throughout the United States, place a strong emphasis on speaking and listening, literacy skills that have been neglected in the past. A growing recognition among educators is that literacy is more effectively taught when the language arts—reading, writing, speaking, listening, viewing, and visually representing—are seen as connected and equally important. Many educators argue that one of the best ways to teach all these skills is through storytelling. For example, Marie Clay (1998) comments, “Think of how the effects snowball. The more children engage in telling stories, the more command they get over language. With more language, they can understand more detail in the stories they hear. That gives them a better idea of how stories hang together. So the better their own storytelling and retellings get, the more experience they’ll bring to reading stories and writing them” (40).

This new edition incorporates the information and research that has validated the importance of storytelling in education, and it reflects what we have learned over the past fifteen years.


OUR DEFINITION OF STORYTELLING

Because narrative is inextricably linked to every aspect of our lives, the term storytelling has many connotations. In this book, we are referring to the telling of a story in front of a group without a book by one or more persons. For a detailed definition, see Anne Pellowski’s The World of Storytelling (1990).


HANDOUTS THAT CAN BE FOUND THROUGHOUT THIS BOOK

How to Learn a Story 56
How to Tell a Story 57
Keeping Storytelling Alive at Home 156

Attach first two pages of “Prompts for Personal or Family Stories” 183, 184
Prompts for Personal or Family Stories 183–185
Stories I’ve Read 87
Storytelling Skills Rubric 165
Student Peer Coaching Guidelines 136, 137
Student Self-Evaluation and Goal Setting 162
Student Story Sheet 88

Information for teachers and storytellers regarding copyright and photocopying policy for handouts and stories can be found at www.beautyandthebeaststorytellers.com under “Just for Teachers.” We recommend that you increase the size of handouts slightly when photocopying.


STYLE NOTES

Because most of our experiences with storytelling have been together, we write this book in the first person, as “we” and use the third person “Mitch” or “Martha” only when we need to distinguish between us. Also, the names of students have been changed when we felt it was in their best interest.

As storytellers, we are aware of the power of language. When females hear “he” or “his” all the time, they feel excluded. As a solution, we use plurals and alternate the use of the masculine and feminine pronouns as much as possible.


A NOTE ON THE COVER

When we mentioned that we were revising Children Tell Stories, the reaction we often got was, “Whatever you do, don’t change the cover. The picture of the little girl on it is priceless!” That “little” girl, whose name is Margaret Timmons, is now twenty-three years old! She is in the middle of the new cover, sharing the spotlight with others. We contacted Margaret and learned that she had just graduated from college and gotten a job in the field of finance. She wrote:

I have continued to develop my storytelling skills with a passion for public speaking. While a student at Cornell, I was a Teaching Assistant for public speaking and a finalist in several competitions. I think the storytelling project in third grade was a great step toward helping me feel comfortable in front of any group of people.


STORYTELLING TIPS

The storytelling tips that appear at the beginning of each chapter were written and illustrated by third graders at Northeast School in Ithaca, New York. For more information, see page 163.

grade classes (2003-2004) at Cayuga Heights School; the twenty middle schoolers who showed up for a storytelling workshop; Joan VanVranken’s kindergarten class (2003-2004) at Northeast School; Bill Van Slyke’s fifth grade class (2003-2004) at Belle Sherman School; Daniel Carroll; Tizzie
Schweizer and Darryl McDaniel; and the Richardson family. You all look MAH-velous!
 


 
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    Preface
    Introduction

    Contents
    Author Bio

Introduction

STORYTELLING: THE REWARDS ARE WELL WORTH THE RISKS


When we began telling stories in schools in 1980, most people did not know what a storyteller was. We were sometimes greeted in the office by administrators who would tell us where we could pull our car up to unload. When we explained that we didn’t use props, read from books, or wear costumes, we could see a very nervous look creep onto the administrators’ faces. And we knew what they were thinking: “Do these people think they’re going to stand up in front of two hundred kids and keep them quiet for forty-five minutes just by talking?”

We understood the administrators’ nervousness, because initially we had had similar doubts. Although we had experienced firsthand the power that stories had over us as listeners, it was still terrifying to be in the role of the teller. The first few times we watched a throng of noisy, unfocused children parade into an auditorium, we worried that perhaps this time storytelling’s magic might not work, that pandemonium might prevail. But time after time our fears were allayed as we saw our listeners become bound up in the web of a story.

When we told a participatory story, the children joined in with only the slightest invitation from us. A humorous tale found our listeners beside themselves with laughter. And when we told a quieter, more poignant tale, a hush descended over a group of students. It was as if they were suspended in time, barely breathing, hanging on our every word. It is for these moments that we continue to tell stories.

Eventually, we began to tell stories to middle and high school students, and we wondered how our stories could possibly take their minds away from their adolescent concerns. We were careful to choose stories with which we thought they’d identify. Again, the same stillness settled over the audience.

Because of experiences like this, we have come to understand and appreciate more fully the spellbinding power of narrative. Stories tap deep into the unconscious of listeners, engage their emotions, and hold them in a powerful grip. A good story has the ability to make the here and now disappear.

Though the teller tells one story, the listeners actively participate by creating their own individual stories—tales filled with images, feelings, colors, sounds, and other details that are theirs alone. People from many cultures have always been acutely aware of the power of stories. Some Native Americans traditionally do not tell certain stories during the growing season, fearing that plants and animals (perhaps especially the human animals) will stop their vital activities and listen to the stories.

Numerous educators have therefore begun to advocate the use of storytelling in the classroom. For example, a position paper from the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) notes how oral storytelling was foolishly cast aside, much like the simpleminded younger brother in the old tales, when the written word came along. The paper describes storytelling as “unsurpassed as a tool for learning about ourselves, about the ever-increasing information available to us, and about the thoughts and feelings of others” (NCTE, Teaching Storytelling).

While the storytelling renaissance grows, stories are often still told in schools only by invited performers and purely as entertainment. We know that storytelling can be an integrated and routine part of every classroom. Teachers and students should be telling stories, not just professional tellers. Students should be retelling world stories and authored tales that inspire them, for they will learn a great deal about different cultures and story form from the examples. And most important of all, students should be telling their own stories.

 
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Table of Contents:



PREFACE xi

INTRODUCTION xv

Storytelling: The Rewards are Well Worth the Risks xv
How to Use this Book and Companion DVD xviii
Storytelling Is Fun! xx

1. THE POWER OF STORYTELLING IN THE CLASSROOM 1

An Ancient Tool with Enduring Power 1
Differences Between Storytelling and Story Reading 3
An Authentic Activity that Motivates Students 7
Imagination and Visualization 9

2. THE EDUCATIONAL BENEFITS OF STORYTELLING 13

Literacy Benefits 13
Enriching Emotional Development 20
Appreciation of Diversity and Cultures Other
    Than One’s Own 23
Opening a World of Storytelling 25

3. GETTING STARTED WITH STORYTELLING 27

The Importance of the Teacher as a Model 27
Setting the Tone for Storytelling 28
Telling Family and Personal Stories 29
Telling Jokes and Reciting Poems 30
Telling Stories with Puzzles or Riddles 31
Telling Stories Using Wordless Picture Books 31
Retelling Stories 31
Story Games 34
Story Theater 46

4. PLANNING AND PREPARING FOR A STORYTELLING
     UNIT 47

Length of the Unit 47
What You’ll Need 48
Planning for a Culminating Festival 50
Why We Discourage Contests 51
The Importance of Teacher Expectations and
Encouragement 51
Dealing with Family Members with Reservations
or Concerns 53
Enlisting the Aid of Others 54
Physical Setting and Rituals for Storytelling 58
How to Include Students with Disabilities 58
Working with English Language Learners (ELLs) 59
Cultural Differences 60
The Use of Props 61
Students Telling Stories with Partners 62

5. INTRODUCING A STORYTELLING UNIT 65

Observing Live Storytelling 65
Understanding the Importance of Storytelling Past
and Present 66
Understanding the Practical Importance of Storytelling
Skills 68
A Sense of Safety 68
Dealing with Nervousness 69
Listening Skills 70

6. HELPING STUDENTS CHOOSE STORIES TO TELL 75

Tips for Selecting Stories to Tell 75
Modeling Storytelling for Your Students 91

7. HELPING STUDENTS LEARN THEIR STORIES 93

Creating an Awareness of the Oral Tradition 93
Making the Stories Their Own 95
Methods for Learning 96
Ways of Practicing 102
Specific Suggestions for Classroom Practice 103
Developing Characters 105

8. HELPING STUDENTS TELL THEIR STORIES 107

Beginnings and Endings 107
Change Your Voice in Many Ways 109
Put Expression on Your Face 117
Use Gestures to Help Listeners See Pictures in Their Minds 119
Look at the Listeners 124
Working with an Audience 125

9. TEACHERS COACHING STUDENTS, STUDENTS
     COACHING STUDENTS 129

Keep Your Priorities Straight 129
Our Style of Coaching Young Tellers 130
Coaching Older Students 133
Creating a Safe Environment for Risk Taking 134
Teaching Student Tellers How to Coach One Another 135
The Teacher/Leader’s Role 140
Handling Various Problems 140
Suggestions to Keep Things Interesting 145
Tools that May Help 145

10. A CELEBRATION OF STORIES 147

On the Road to Other Classrooms 148
A Family Storytelling Festival 148
A School Storytelling Festival on a Grand Scale 157
How to Celebrate in Your Community 158
More Creative Ways to Celebrate Storytelling 159

11. ASSESSING STUDENT STORYTELLERS 161

Self-Evaluation 161
Working with Rubrics 164
Using Assessments to Help with Fund-Raising 166

12. STORYTELLING CLUBS AND TROUPES 169

Establishing Goals 169
Get ‘Em While They’re Young 171
Group Size 171
Laying Down the Ground Rules 173
How a Long Running Middle School Troupe Worked 174
Where Troupes Can Tell 176
Fund-Raising Ideas 176
For More Activities 177

13. HELPING STUDENTS DEVELOP FAMILY AND PERSONAL
       STORIES FOR TELLING AND WRITING 179


Sharing Your Own Stories 180
Collecting Family Stories 182
A Culminating Family Stories Event 191

14. STORYTELLING AS AN INTEGRAL PART OF THE
       CURRICULUM 197

How to Use Storytelling to Enliven Various Subject Areas 197
Character Education 217
Stories as Healing Tools 218
Integrated or Thematic Units 219

CONCLUSION: WORDS TAKE WINGS 221

APPENDICES

A: SUGGESTED STORIES FOR STUDENTS TO TELL 225

Stories from Our Anthologies Categorized by Difficulty for Telling by
Second Through Eighth Graders 225
Bibliographies of Stories for Telling 228
Suggested Picture Books for Telling in Four Categories of Difficulty 229
Suggested Anthologies with Tellable Stories in Three Categories
of Difficulty 237

B: STORYTELLING RESOURCES 242

Finding the Best Recent Resources: Storytelling Awards 242
Favorite Storytelling Sources 243
Storytelling Recordings 244
Storytelling Web Sites 251


WORKS CITED 253

INDEX 259

COMPANION DVD

Children Telling Stories: A Storytelling Unit in Action (20-minute video)
Four Students Sharing Stories at a Family Storytelling Festival (video)
Twenty-five Stories in Printable Format for Students to Tell
Sources for Stories in the Book and on the DVD


 
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Author Bio:

Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss, who live in Ithaca, New York, have been performing together professionally as Beauty & the Beast Storytellers at schools, libraries, coffeehouses, museums, festivals, and conferences throughout the United States and Canada since 1980. 
They leave it to their audiences to decide which one is
the Beauty and which the Beast.

Using gesture, song, and physical movement in their performances, this husband-and-wife team brings to life traditional folk tales from around the world, works by contemporary authors, and stories from their own experiences.  Mitch is a natural comedian who can create an immediate rapport with any audience.  Martha, with her expressive face and a penchant for telling poignant and moving tales, provides the perfect contrast.  Their specialty is “tandem storytelling,” in which Mitch and Martha combine their differing styles, swapping lines and impersonating characters to add an absorbing dimension to their art.


Martha, formerly a reference librarian at Cornell university, began telling stories as a hobby after she mistakenly walked into a storytelling workshop while attending a library conference.  She was eventually introduced to Mitch by a friend who told her, “Mitch may not know it, but he’s a storyteller.  Mitch had majored in government as a student at Cornell, a field which some have jokingly commented seems perfect for a storyteller.”  At the time he was one of the owners/workers at the cooperatively run Moosewood Restaurant, an Ithaca landmark because of its best-selling vegetarian cookbook.

Mitch learned three stories in the first few days after he and
Martha met, and now admits: “I haven’t learned a story
that fast since. It’s amazing what love will make you do!”  Although storytelling was merely a hobby when they first began, it soon became part of their livelihood as they cut their other jobs down to part-time.  They have been full-time professional storytellers since 1984.


 

 

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