abolish all standardized tests which here, in the Greater Boston area, my brighter middle school students renamed as the " Massachusetts Child Abuse System" aka the MCAS. Read more about testing at Fair Test or The National Center for Fair & Open Testing that works to end the misuses and flaws of standardized testing and to ensure that evaluation of students, teachers and schools is fair, open, valid and educationally beneficial.
As the Ed Czarina, I would mandate ( well, if you got it, flaunt it, right?) that oral storytelling be added into every subject area of the curriculum. I would also add storytelling into the standard fare of teacher training in every teacher education school in the country. Actually, it doesn't have to be me...I wouldn't really like policy wanking ( Oh, my bad. Do I mean wonking?) Really, anyone who would elevate storytelling in education to its proper place would do.
1. Story a day – or tell an opening and a closing story each day – or tell the beginning of the story at the start of the day and the end at the end - it is a lot but consider – to be given the title of a true storyteller in ancient Ireland, one had to know 300 short tales and 60 epics.
2. “Text to self ” Add your personal history connections to what ever you are reading, learning or working on. Don't abuse this but show that you can make a connection to your personal history. Maybe you have an anecdote about how this area of study challenged, helped or did not work for you. As a teacher you model this and you model the qualities of brevity and connection. Only do it when you feel it. When the kids have seen this modeled enough, they will be eager to try.
3. Fun bio facts Find a 3 line “fun fact” or story –ette about the person[s] who innovated or invented whatever you are studying in math or science – wikipedia is a quick resource. Use anything -- something about them that is interesting to you. A few examples follow: Pythagoreans lived in vegetarian communes, but not did not eat beans. Some think they believed beans were 'sacred'. Others believe they were afraid of flatulence. DaVinci never knew his father and he liked to wear pink[rose] colored tights. A legend tells how Archimedes went running naked through the streets yelling, “Eureka!” because he’d just discovered how to use displacement of water to measure objects while sitting in a bathtub.
4. Change the "where" Set all your Math or word problems on different planets, works of fiction, foreign countries or historical settings depending on what you are studying This is an easy 2 for 1 learning experience.
5. Wisdom Tales To help build healthy social interaction and happy Communities, tell wisdom tales at the beginning of each week and look all week for connections to that wisdom in real life at school, home and the news. Collect and share these connections as stories then in some visual ways:– create dance, cartoons, paintings, skits, living statues etc.song parodies.
6. Spelling Find the history and “story “ behind a word how the word was made…then learn to spell them. Use charades of the story behind the words to play with and learn them.
7. Games Play storytelling improv games for 10 minutes a day—it is like gym for the brain. I like Doug Lipman's book Storytelling Games.
8. Stretch Extend a known story or a novel. After you read a book together, at the end decide as a class to tell a prequel or a sequel, taking turns in a circle? To a partner? Or some other way? Then write for a period to follow your idea. Or try changing point of view –look at any story from another point of view – an imagined or written character and the interview them.
These are just a few ideas. Teachers, what are your favorites?
© 2010 by Norah Dooley