In the 21st century teaching, STORYTELLING has become the teachers' No2 priority regardless of the students' age.

(No1 is gamifying). 

Whatever your life is, it is a story. A good one? A bad one? Well, you're the one creating it and therefore you're the one deciding about its plot, twists and endings. There are always the beginnings of different events that are building up to their climaxes and are slowly (or abruptly) resolving towards their resolutions.

In other words, stories are part of us, are natural to us. To make us feel better, we tailor our events to our happy endings or we find the villain to blame him/her for our misery. 

For educational or entertaining purposes, we invent stories of different genres.

To focus more specifically, the text below is focusing on YFLL classroom, where storytelling is specifically welcome. The reasons are many. I may not cover all of them but will definitely address some.  

THE PBA STAGE: Opening the project

The project always has a theme. Whatever your theme, there's bound to be a picture book that can be connected to the theme. 

The just question to ask yourself at this point (when introducing the theme to the young classroom) is, what background knowledge to the theme the children already have?

According to children's background knowledge, the picture book is chosen and the steps to storytelling are prepared. 

Naturally, there are different purposes of storytelling. Once you know what you want to achieve with it, there are some hints of how to approach storytelling. However, I hate to break it to you, but there is not one and the only fixed way how to do good storytelling. You simply have to make your own kilometres in practice, and slowly you'll get the feeling for it.

Bearing in mind that we're introducing the theme, the storytelling at this point has one specific goal: children need to get the gist of the plot.

Specifically, the teacher needs to be aware of:

  • children need to be in 'the mood' and 'prepared' for listening; 
  • storytelling is not story reading;
  • the words themselves are not important: children are 'reading' the illustrations, mood, body language and their own involvement;
  • the fluency of storytelling is of paramount importance;
  • it is good if there can be an immediate use of the story.
All of the above mentioned should be entwined in one storytelling lesson. 

Some hints, maybe?

The best way to understand the storytelling is to see some step-by-step storytelling live. I invite you to join my workshops, where at least one story is told, involving all the points mentioned above. Seeing and trying it is far better than only reading about it.

Nevertheless, there are some hints:

Being in a mood and prepared for listening

Putting it down plainly, that means preparing children's ears to register different sounds. An activity in which children enjoy (play) and at the same time use their hearing to execute the activity is recommended. Listening discrimination is an excellent way of achieving this (and is described in the post Positive Emotional Environment

If a teacher can incorporate some of the features of the story she/he intends to tell, all the better. That is especially important if some information needs to be presented to children before storytelling because it doesn't exist in children's background knowledge but is important for understanding the plot.

Storytelling is not story reading

Every story presented to the children should be tailored in a way to make it interesting. In that, every storyteller should adapt their interpretation and thus make it more 'alive' and 'present'. So, a storyteller should not be ignorant of acting.

The words themselves are not important

When only introducing the theme (at the first storytelling) understanding all the words used in storytelling is truly not important. Children are reading the pictures, listening to the storyteller's voice, body language and actions, and create their own logical connections among everything they hear, see, do, and have some prior knowledge of the topic. The important thing is that they get the gist of the plot.

The fluency of storytelling is of paramount importance

A good storyteller knows the story by heart and into all details. Only then can she/he interpret the plot and adapt it according to the listeners' current mood. 

It is good if there can be an immediate use of the story

After the storytelling, a game, tailored from the story, should be played. 

The follow-up activities are chosen according to what further use of the story a teacher has in the programme. Speaking practice? Literacy? Listening? 

As I have already mentioned before, all will be put down in my next posts.

If you want to be reminded when it is posted, I suggest you sign up (see the top right 'follow by email', or put your email address on my list). This way you won't miss anything.

Until then, you can read related themes: