How storytelling affects the Brain

Storytelling and Story Writing and how to make storytelling | download free pdf
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October 2009 The Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat WHAT WORKS? Research into Practice A research-into-practice series produced by a partnership between the Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat and the Ontario Association of Deans of Education Research Monograph 20 How can teachers make writing fun and motivating, so that even Storytelling and Story Writing reluctant writers want to write? “Using a Different Kind of Pencil” By Dr. Terry A. Campbell, Nipissing University and Research Tells Us Michelle Hlusek, Nipissing-Parry Sound Catholic District School Board ● Oral language is the foundation of “As you tell a story, you make stuff up along the way ... and when you ask people literacy development. for ideas they give you good ideas. Then you can write a story.” ● Classroom discussion promotes higher- – Grade 4 student level thinking and problem solving, fosters deeper literary awareness Educators often assume that there is a link between storytelling and story and enhances communication skills. writing, that telling stories can provide a foundation and a rehearsal for writing ● Sharing writing in conversations and them. By analyzing the written and spoken words of students in a Grade 4/5 conferences with peers and teachers class over a period of two months, we were able to explore the connections increases the motivation to write and between oral rehearsal – including storytelling – and story writing. We found the desire to improve writing. that the use of storytelling and peer talk stimulated significantly more writing and higher-quality writing. ● The social nature of writing requires that students learn to write inside a Effective instruction in a writers’ workshop setting, we believe, fosters the community. growth of a community of authors, where participants read, talk and write together. Committed to this belief, we embarked on a team-taught project 1,2 to inject new life into a writers’ workshop by infusing storytelling, oral rehearsal and discussion of stories into activities before, during and after DR. TERRY A. CAMPBELL teaches writing. We found that this approach had a huge impact not only on engaging language and literacy in the Faculty reluctant writers but also on motivating fluent writers to continue to improve of Education of Nipissing University their writing skills. in North Bay, Ontario. Her research interests include classroom practices Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) results in previous years that facilitate “good talk about great have indicated a need for focused attention on writing. Recent improvements 3 in Grade 6 results show this attention to writing instruction should continue. literature,” oral language, storytelling With this important priority in mind, we report on both our own study and on and writing. other research about storytelling and story writing. MICHELLE HLUSEK is a teacher with the Nipissing-Parry Sound Catholic District School Board in North Bay, The Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat is committed to providing teachers with current research Ontario. Her interests are in developing on instruction and learning. The opinions and conclusions contained in these monographs are, critical-thinking strategies and creative however, those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies, views, or directions of literacy in her students. the Ontario Ministry of Education or The Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat.Engaging a Community of Writers Barbero writes that the “social nature of writing requires that students learn to 4 write inside a community” (p. 380). The use of peer talk and discussion in the Getting Started with Writers’ classroom to rehearse for writing, and the use of drama to create stories, have Workshop 5 all been well researched. Armbuster and colleagues explore the use of writing processes in elementary grades to articulate and clarify learning, and the value 1. Mini-Lesson – 10 to 15 minutes 6 of peer talk to rehearse and revise writing. Townsend and Pace show that dis- Day 1: Teacher tells a story. (We used 7 cussion fosters deeper literary awareness. Van Woerkum’s research emphasizes “The Name of the Tree,” “Tipingee, the links among oral language, writing processes and creativity. Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock,” “Lazy Jack” and “The Rough-face Girl”, These studies and others strongly support the use of writers’ workshop to create as well as personal anecdotes.) 8 a community of writers. Sharing writing with peers and teachers increases the Days 2 to 8: Explicit instruction 9 10 11 motivation to write and the desire to improve writing. Booth and Gallagher (modelling) based on student need. 12 support the importance of rehearsing story writing using drama, and Wilson Topics could include conventions such as punctuating dialogue or paragraphing; writes about the usefulness of holding “write-talks” to stimulate writing. writer’s craft, such as sentence combining, Our study builds upon this research, providing specific reference to the use of writing good beginnings and endings, and using “juicy words”; and revising storytelling and story discussion to motivate and enhance story writing. and editing skills. What Teachers Can Do to Get Their Students Writing 2. Status of the class – 2 to 3 minutes Teacher circulates with class list, Storytelling is a powerful tool to get students writing because it provides recording who is at rehearsal/drafting/ “opportunities to identify important details and dialogue, understand and revising/editing/publishing stages. recall stories and story elements, and practise oral language skills such as vocal 13 expression and exaggeration” (p. 218). Over the course of our two-month 3. Writing time study, we found that engaging in storytelling and talking about stories enlivened Students rehearse, then write independ- the process of writing for a group of junior students, most of whom were reluc- ently while teacher circulates and tant writers. We modelled storytelling, and we engaged with the students as conducts conferences. they rehearsed, told and drafted their stories. We talked about their stories with Phase 1: oral rehearsal with partner – them and listened to them discuss their stories with one another. This feedback 10 minutes led them to either revise their stories or to realize when they had a good story Phase 2: sustained writing – 25 minutes and why. 4. Authors’ sharing time 10 to Some approaches to teaching writing assign the same topic(s) to everyone in 15 minutes the class, regardless of individual interests or personal experiences. In contrast, Students present works in progress at our method makes use of two oral communication strategies: the traditional any stage of the writing process, includ- art of storytelling and classroom talk. These practices provide opportunities ing oral rehearsal, for audience feedback for young authors to rehearse and receive feedback throughout the writing and group problem-solving. process. Further details about how to organize and structure writers’ workshops can “Using a Different Kind of Pencil” be found in the Ministry of Education’s 2006 publication, A Guide to Effective Many students struggle with the process of writing. They may begin the pre- Literacy Instruction, Vol. 6 – Writing writing stage using a graphic, then jot down a few initial ideas and feel they (pp. 1828). Access online at: have written a complete story. David’s story illustrates the reluctance of many students to revisit their first drafts. During a conference with the teacher, he said the story was “done.” “One day I wanted to build a tree house but I had no wood. So I had a lemonade stand and after a week or two I got wood and my Dad helped me.” Even when students produce a more detailed story during the drafting stage, they are often reluctant to spend time revising and/or editing. As one Grade 5 student commented: “I don’t like revising, like when my story is too long and it starts to not make sense, and it takes a lot of time to change it. And I don’t like editing. It’s boring.” 2 What Works? Research into PracticeThe challenge for some is the actual physical act of writing. They need a “different kind of pencil” as Omar’s friend says in Omar on Ice. It is chiefly listening to stories and oral rehearsal of their own stories that nudges them into producing full-fledged stories. A complete story is a better model for writing a story than a template such as a story map. Folk tales make particularly good models because of their obvious beginning-middle-end structure, clear characters, simple settings “Using a different kind of and well-defined problems and solutions. pencil” ● Make regular use of an author’s chair – Storytelling as a Bridge to Story Writing or what we call “authors share” – as an integral part of the writing Many teachers observe that the masterful storytellers are often the children who process. are not confident readers and writers and that “the comfort zone of the oral ● Use storytelling and oral rehearsal 14 tale can be the path by which they reach the written one.” Sometimes, “the as pre-writing. 15 best response to a story is another story” (p. 14). Our strategy, implemented ● Create opportunities for talk at all using eight-day cycles, involved telling students a story and then leading them stages of the writing process. through the process of altering the story by changing one or more elements. In the case of the folk tale, “The Name of the Tree,” for example, the students ● Integrate writing with drama and visual art activities. were asked to re-tell the story to a partner or small group by changing the setting. “I get ideas when I listen to a story first. And when I tell my story to my friends, they Next steps say ‘You can add this…’ And when I listen to their stories, I get ideas for my story.” ● Extend the use of “authors share” for specific work on writers’ craft, for We used other folk tales to focus on plot and on character: the students example, revising for stronger intro- engaged in dramatic retellings and re-enactments, created visual representations ductions and conclusions or using of settings, made storyboards and shadow puppets to display plot sequence, and correct conventions. told anecdotes putting themselves in the role of various story characters. After ● Use small, guided writing groups for these oral and visual activities, they went on to compose their own versions of targeted instruction to address next the original tales. Once they had a story in oral and visual form, they felt like steps. (Whole-group mini-lessons are 16,17 not always necessary.) authors, even before pencil was put to paper. ● Use oral storytelling and authors Integrating drama and visual arts with the writing process grounded the students’ share for assessment. writing in their own personal actions and experiences. This enriched both writing ● Try a similar writing process (incorpo- process and product. David Booth refers to this as “writing within a concrete rating oral rehearsal and discussion) 10 framework” (p. 85). for non-fiction writing. We adapted the typical structure of writers’ workshop by including storytelling and oral rehearsal just before independent writing time. The students used notebooks to record drafts, drawings, revisions and notes on the process of using storytelling as part of writing. Students were invited to participate in an author sharing time at the conclusion of each workshop. How Storytelling Made a Difference “We see that After three eight-day cycles of writing and storytelling integrated with drama and everyone has art, David, who wrote about his “tree house,” was starting to write longer, more detailed stories. Instead of writing three or four lines accompanied by a drawing, he was beginning to fill three-quarters of a notebook page. More significantly, he a story, even was beginning to demonstrate the use of story language and structures. By the second month, David had made dramatic progress. He rehearsed and those who then composed a three-page draft that began: thought they “Once upon a time in a small village there was a handsome prince. Now this prince was looking for a wife. The only way a girl could marry the prince was to pick an apple that would turn to gold. Only the girl who was beautiful and kind inside would did not.” turn an apple to gold. “In a small house just a couple of miles outside the village lived three sisters. Two of them were beautiful but they had hearts of stone. The other sister wasn’t so beautiful but she had the kindest heart in the village. She had a heart of gold ...” October 2009 3Throughout the writing process, the use of an author’s chair, which we called “authors share,” contributed to collaboration and to the appreciation of one Learn More about LNS another’s stories. The students became increasingly articulate about specific Resources ... elements and strengths of their peer’s stories, using phrases such as “I liked the Visit Building Networks for Learning beginning because ...” or “I liked the words you used when you described ...”. They used authors share time for ongoing self-assessment and for final feedback. Call: “I love seeing the look on other people’s faces when they hear my story. I like 416-325-2929 1-800-387-5514 getting help from my friends. It helps make the story better.” Email: Discussing stories with one another helped students identify which writing strategies were most effective, which aspects of their stories were most interesting and which passages needed to be revised. These discussions led the students to 18 an increased awareness of audience and voice. In sum Storytelling and talking about their writing allows students to rehearse and revise stories, and creates an atmosphere for free writing, circumventing the “I hate writing” attitude. It frees reluctant writers from the constraints and conventional expectations for “school writing.” For some, the physical act of writing makes it difficult to get anything down on paper. When the expectation is simply to tell a story, we see that everyone has a story, even those who thought they did not. 1. Atwell, N. (1987). In the middle: Writing, 10. Booth, D. (2005). Story drama: Creating reading, and learning with adolescents. stories through role play, improvising, and References Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook. reading aloud (2nd ed.). Markham, ON: Pembroke. 2. Fletcher, R. (2001). Writing workshop: The essential guide. Portsmouth, NH: 11. Gallagher, K. (2000). Drama education in Heinemann. the lives of girls: Imagining possibilities. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press. 3. Education Quality and Accountability Office (2008, August 27). Retrieved May 4, 12. Wilson, A.A. (2008). Motivating young 2009, from writers through write-talks: Real writers, real audiences, real purposes. The aspx?Lang=E&release=b08R010 Reading Teacher, 61, 485–487. 4. Barbiero, L. (2005). Writing in a circle 13. Parr, M. & Campbell, T. (2007). Teaching of stories. The Reading Teacher, 59, the language arts: Engaging literacy 380–382. practices. Toronto, ON: Wiley & Sons. 5. Armbuster, B.B., McCarthey, S.J., & 14. National Council of Teachers of English. Cummins, S. (2005). Writing to learn in (n.d.) Retrieved November 1, 2008, from elementary classrooms. In R. Indrisano & J.R. Paratore (Eds.), Learning to write, 15. Swartz, L. (1999). The best response to writing to learn: Theory and research in a story is another story. Orbit, 30(3), practice (pp. 71–96). Newark, DE: 14–17. International Reading Association. 16. Clay, M. (2004). Talking, reading, and 6. Townsend, J.S., & Pace, B.G. (2005). writing. Journal of Reading Recovery, The many faces of Gertrude: Opening 3(2). and closing possibilities in classroom talk. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 17. Allan, J. (2002). On the same page: 48, 594–605. Shared reading beyond the primary grades. Portland, ME: Stenhouse. 7. Van Woerkum, C.M.J. (2007). Orality 18. Almasi, J., O’Flahavan, J., & Arya, P. and the process of writing. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, (2001). A comparative analysis of student 37, 183–201. and teacher development in more and less proficient discussions of literature. 8. Street, C. (2005). A reluctant writer’s Reading Research Quarterly, 36, 96–120. entry into a community of writers. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, Children’s Literature Cited: 48, 636–641. Barker Lottridge, C. (1989). The name of the tree. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Press. 9. Fu, D., & Lamme, L. (2002). Assessment Kovalski, M. (2002). Omar on ice. Markham, through conversation. Language Arts, 79, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside. 241–250. What Works? is updated monthly and posted at: ISSN 1913-1097 What Works? Research Into Practice (Print) ISSN 1913-1100 What Works? Research Into Practice (Online)

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