Elena Maker, a teacher at Blackstone Academy in Rhode Island, is developing a student storytelling project with English Learners that will culminate in a public presentation for civic and community leaders. Throughout the project, she will be using Re-Imagining Migration’s Moving Stories app to elicit student’s stories and encourage students to practice empathy by listening to their classmates. We will feature occasional lessons from the project as it develops. Below is the lesson Elena used to kick off the project with her students. The words and lesson are hers, we are thrilled that she is letting us share it!
It can be hard to imagine how we might tell “our stories”. Where do they start? Where do they end? What do we deem necessary for other people to know about us?In this lesson, we begin to imagine how we might speak about those moments and experiences that make us us. We do so by looking at other people’s stories.
Lesson Objectives:1. To begin a discussion of why we might tell our stories2. To sample different story telling strategies used by youth3. To connect individuals’ stories to the world, our communities, and ourselves, so that we can better understand the power of storytellingLesson Part One: (30-40 minutes)Procedures:1. Carousel: We began by posting 5 prompts around the room. The prompts asked big questions that helped us generate initial thinking around the importance of story telling.
- Why is it important to tell people our stories?
- What is something about yourself that you want people to know?
- What is something about yourself you don’t normally tell people?
- Why should teachers know about students?
- What should students know about other students?
After spending 10 minutes circulating the room and responding to the prompts, we posted all of the posters on the front wall and read over what we had written.
Discussion prompts for whole group debrief:
- What trends/themes do you notice in the answers?
- What surprises you about what we have written?
- What lesson do we take away from this activity?
2. Story exploration and graphic organizer
Using the ilearnamerica.com human library, students are able to explore the stories of different young people. Each student was instructed to browse the library and select one story that they could reflect upon.
In the graphic organizer students were asked to write a brief summary of the story, and use “the 3 Y’s” to consider the importance of the story. Students spent about 20 minutes reading and finding meaningful connections to strangers through story telling.*
1. Why might this [topic, question] matter to me?
2. Why might it matter to people around me [family, friends, city, nation]?
3. Why might it matter to the world?
Lesson Part Two: (30 minutes)
3. Share out:
Students were asked to share out about the stories they selected. Each student was given about 1 minute to summarize and explain the connections.
As students shared, the rest of the group created a list of why each story was important (i.e. “because the reader felt less alone after reading the story”).
4. Creating criteria for story telling
In small groups, students reviewed their lists and together, created one list of the important elements of story telling.
After small group discussions, we came together as a whole class and created one synthesized list of the criteria for a good story. We will use this list as we move forward in thinking about which of our own stories we want to tell, and how we will tell them.
* “The 3 Y’s” is a strategy adopted from the Many Stories Library Project in Portland, Maine