The elder sat in a little chair as the first and second graders circled around her on the floor.
As the elder told a story, she dropped her voice and began to sing.
Every child leaned quietly forward as if mesmerized by the cadence of the Yup’ik song.
In the culture in a rural Native Alaskan village, storytelling seems to be a natural and inviting bridge to include elder’s knowledge of the world outside the classroom. Children love to hear the native stories that are relevant to the subsistence seasons. These stories can easily become a springboard for, or an extension of classroom content. The stories draw upon the children’s desire to connect with respected people and cultural activities in their community. I found that storytelling was a positive platform to introduce new skills and state standards that students can be less motivated to engage in. This project could be done any time of year, however, I like to have students work toward publishing a class writing project each Spring when the weather gets warm and the students' minds wander outside. This hands on project keeps the rigor and the interest high.
1. Camera or device to video record elder stories.
2. Scrap paper cut into fourths or 3X3 or larger sticky notes. Enough for every event in the story. Have extra ready.
Preparing for the Activity
1. Invite 1 or 2 elders to your classroom to share one or two stories.
2. Make sure you have a camera or other technology to video record the elder story in your classroom. If it is a new device or skill for you, practice ahead of time so that the activity can progress smoothy. Keeping students engaged and busy prevents many behaviors that often arise when the teacher is looking for something or trying to figure something out.
1. Students begin by listening to one or two elder’s stories told in Village English (VE). Even if you decide on a topic beforehand, the elder may take a different direction with the story, which is culturally appropriate. It can be helpful to have two stories told since one may lend itself more readily to the concept of sequence, and retelling.
2. Record a video of the elder story to use as a reference later.
3. Sequence Activity: Ask the class, “What parts of the story do you remember?” For each student response, write down a key word on a sticky note. Use a dark marker for easy visibility. After most of the events in the story have been noted on a sticky note ask the students, “Which of these events happened first?” “What happened next?” Continue until all the events have been written in order. If your group of students is less than 12 you can gather together around the sticky notes on the floor. Otherwise, you can project the sticky notes on a document camera so that everyone can see them as you put them in order as a class. (Save sticky notes to use again on Day 3).
4. After school, listen to the recorded elder story. Type the elder story and print out part of the story for each student the next lesson.
ATTENTION TO FORM
1. Play the video recording of the elder telling the story yesterday.
2. Display part of the story that was typed out on the overhead for the students with a couple of the past tense words ending in ed highlighted.
1. Ask, “What words do you see that show that the story already happened?” (a past tense verb is given as an example – eg. Walked, talked, ran, sang…). If no students respond, point to a word with an –ed ending and say, “What part of this word shows us that it already happened?” (-ed) “What are some other words that have this same ending?” (students can take turns naming past tense words.
2. “You are going to highlight all the words that have this same ending –ed." Allow students to work with a partner to highlight all the -ed words.
3. "Circle the part of the words that is the same in all of the highlighted words." Allow students time to think and work.
4. "What part of the words did you notice was the same?" (-ed)
5. "There are some words that are past tense that do not have the same ending. Did you find any of those words?" Allow students to share responses.
1. Put the sticky notes from Day 1 in order together as a class again like you did on Day 1.
2. Using a document camera or other technology project the Student Writing Rubric to briefly discuss the expectations of their writing.
3. "Now you are going to write about a part of the story with a partner. Who wants to write about _______." Hold up a sticky note and send the first two students off to be partners. Put the sticky note on a piece of paper they are to write their part of the story on.
4. Circulate around the room and encourage both students to talk about what they are writing together when they need encouragement.
5. Have students reread their work to make sure it makes sense and they added details.
6. Students who get done early can begin drawing a picture to go with their part of the story.
ASSESSMENT Part 1
1. Ask for a volunteer to donate an old writing sample for the class to edit using the Student_Peer_Teacher_Writing_Chart or the Writing Checklist.
2. Edit the paper as a class using the chart or checklist. Allow students to find errors to correct as you work through the list.
3. Pass out a copy of the editing chart or checklist to pairs of students and have them edit their own work and then the work of their partner.
4. As students get done the teacher meets with each pair to listen to students read their work aloud and ask questions to guide students to correct any errors in their written SAE grammar. This is modeled in the video summary of the project to the right.
5. One student can finish adding detail to their picture while the other types their work on StoryKit.
6. Have students practice reading their part of the story with expression so that it sounds fluid for the audio feature that the students will record on their StoryKit page.
7. Allow students to work on another assignment when they get to the point when they are waiting for their turn to use the tablet to type their part of the story on the final StoryKit App.
There are many extension activities that could be used to meet the interests of your students and the standards of the state. One extension that would access high level thinking and connections with the student's funds of knowledge could be to have the kids come up with the moral/values that the story held for them. “What did you learn from the story”….
ASSESSMENT Part 2
1. Display and discuss the Student Story Editing Rubric before passing out a copy to each pair of students to complete using their part of the story.
2. Students can then show their work to another partner pair to help edit each others work.
3. When most of the students seem to be done have them regroup to display and discuss them the Student StoryKit Presentation Rubric and expectations.
4. Allow students time to continue with the process of completing their part of the story on StoryKit following steps 4-7 from yesterday's lesson.
Once students have completed their part of the story on StoryKit it may be assessed using the Digital Storytelling Teacher Rubric and then the final Digital Elder Story Retelling can be presented to the class.
The grammar focus of my project was using past tense verbs in (Standard American English) SAE. This is a very difficult concept for my students to apply since most of them do not use it regularly in their everyday speech which is Village English (VE). Past tense in VE is known by context using present tense SAE verbs.
My secondary objectives for my students are listed to the left under project objectives.
How I Found A Storyteller
I wanted to invite two elders to my classroom.
How I Prepared for the Experience
When the elders came we walked to the first grade classroom and sat on the floor around the elders. The children were engrossed in the elder stories. One elder had a string tied together in a circle and explained how he did not have toys when he was a boy but children and adults used string to tell stories for fun. He used the string to make characters and settings as he talked. The next elder told a traditional story about a flood which included a song sung in Yup'ik. Both elders spoke Village English (VE) as they told their stories. Both stories took place long ago.
If a student said, "The boy drink the seal."
I would say, "The boy drank the seal?"
The students would understand that I was asking them if my rephrased sentence was what they meant. They would then answer, "Yes."
ATTENTION TO FORM & CO-CONSTRUCTION
When I did my original projects I did not know about the PACE model and therefore I did not have a concrete activity for students that drew attention to form. I just explained what past tense was and tried to draw attention to the tense through direct teaching as I met with each partner group to help talk them through editing their part of the story. I have included an activity for Attention to Form and Co-construction in the suggested implementation to the left.
I did the extension in the manner that I have laid out in the suggested implementation to the left. I felt that this part of my lesson went very well.
Since it took a long time for my first and second graders to type, I allowed them to take turns typing up their part of the story during recess, or any other time during the day when they were finished with their other work. Since typing was a novelty in my 1st/2nd grade classroom I even had students ask to stay after school to type their story.
When students recorded their page, I allowed them to step into the closet to limit background noise on the recording.
Overall the students were very engaged throughout this highly motivating writing project with the elder, culture, and technology as motivating factors. They seemed to love the social activity of working together with a peer and the hands-on process.
Video Summary of Our Project in Action
In the process of retelling elder stories, students are drawing upon many skills, including listening, speaking, writing, and reading. This is a positive activity that incorporates different learning styles and modalities including kinesthetic, visual, aural, and tactile. This activity is an authentic content-based activity.