Storytelling is one of those art forms that naturally connects to all aspects of literacy. Obvious, right? But I wonder how much it is really used in the classroom. I often feel like I need to intentionally place it into my plans to allow my students to do it and yet, if I just gave my students a push in the right direction, they could practice storytelling all the time and become better readers and writers.
How can storytelling help students’ reading and writing? For struggling readers, storytelling is a great alternative to showing what they can do. Without the obstacles of letters, words and conventions, they are able to construct a story or retell a story showing comprehension and knowledge of story structure. The same is true for every level of reader/writer. Storytelling naturally differentiates for all levels. As students add more events, details and descriptions to their stories, they become more skilled at this art form.
With some additional instruction on what makes a good story: character, setting, a problem, sequence of events and a solution at the end, as well as how it pertains to oral storytelling, students will be well on their way. Stories come alive when you take the time to really describe certain things and events in your story too. The first few times a student tells a story it is ok to ask them questions to get them to add more and more details to the story. “What did he look like?” “What was behind the house?” These types of questions help students to visualize the story and tell it more effectively.
When students tell stories, they are automatically reinforcing the concepts of character, setting, plot and sequence. And it you give them opportunities to tell their story to different people or record it and listen, then those story elements are being that much more reinforced. Gaining a new level of knowledge of these elements can help them as readers. They will be better able to recognize them in the books they read in print and online.
Storytelling can also act as a sort of plan for a story. Once students have told a story, especially if they have told it more than once, they are better able to write it down on paper or through their Big Universe account and add meaningful illustrations and pictures to accompany their work.
Kids do love telling stories, so why not use that to our advantage as teachers of literacy? I’m looking forward to using storytelling more and more this coming school year.
Picture from http://www.kstoolkit.org/Storytelling