The Performance Storyteller: Guest Lecturer/Workshop

Tonight I had the privilege of working with a class of students in the education department at PACE University in Pleasantville, NY. These potential teachers are working towards elementary certification and are doing their student teaching during the day. My task was to bring them a way to approach storytelling in their classrooms, how to engage their students, and to prepare them on how to bring out the best of their charges for presentations, thinking on their feet, decoding and interpreting written material, focus skills, finding a creative voice…and, oh to tell a story that is engaging.

We began by my modeling some do’s and dont’s:

After this, the students formed four groups (three groups of three; one group of four) and were given copies of various Aesop’s Fables. They had five minutes to read the short fables to themselves. They had to find the main points that they would use to retell and share their story with the other members of their small groups. I also instructed them on how to critique the piece in a positive manner that would instill good feelings and allow growth and revisions to happen. You’ll hear that in the below videos.

After everyone in the small groups told and got feedback, they picked one member of each group to come up front and tell their fable.I think that what they did, in little more than an hour total, was amazing.

The Lion and the Mouse #1

The Lion and the Mouse #2

The Fox and the Stork #1

The Fox and the Stork #2

Their feedback at the end to the work they did was extremely encouraging. They felt they learned some skills that they can actually use with their classes. One of the non-performing students asked if this model of small groups and critique would also work with Poetry; my answer was  of course it can, with the only difference is that poetry needs to be memorized word for word, where storytelling allows you the chance to tell in your own words, and add your own personality to the work being told. Poetry allows that creative expression in many ways, just not in the freedom of going “off script”.

I had a great time with this group. What do you think about their work.

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