Lesson Plan: Why Tell Stories?
Author: Elena Maker, Blackstone Academy
Elana wrote this lesson as part of a migration storytelling unit for her EL students.
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. We do so by looking at other people’s stories.
- To begin a discussion of why we might tell our stories
- To sample different storytelling strategies used by youth
- To connect individuals’ stories to the world, our communities, and ourselves, so that we can better understand the power of storytelling
Lesson Part One: (30-40 minutes
- Carousel: We began by posting five prompts around the room. The prompts asked big questions that helped us generate initial thinking about the importance of storytelling.
- 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?
- Story exploration and graphic organizer
Using the ilearnamerica.com human library, students can 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 summary of the story, and use “the 3 Y’s” to consider the importance of the story.
- Why might this story matter to me?
- Why might it matter to people around me?
- Why might it matter to the world?
Students spent about 20 minutes reading and finding meaningful connections to strangers through storytelling.*
Lesson Part Two: (30 minutes)
- 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 significant (i.e., “because the reader felt less alone after reading the story”).
- Creating criteria for storytelling
In small groups, students reviewed their lists and together, created one list of the critical elements of storytelling.
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.