Teach English in ShimashAn Zhen - Loudi Shi

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Classroom activities using storytelling Stories provide a natural and relevant context for the exposure to English language and storytelling build on the children’s innate capacity for fantasy and imaginative play, making it an essential aspect to be integrated in language lessons. Beyond just language skills, students are also able to acquire critical thinking skills such as predicting, hypothesizing, categorizing, sequencing and inferring meaning through various storytelling activities. Stories are also used to enhance children’s concentration skills and develop moral and emotional intelligence by teaching students to empathize with the characters in the story. Storytelling can be extended to include activities for children to retell, act out and create their own stories. Therefore storytelling have an impact on various aspects on children’s development and multiple intelligence. This essay will explore how teachers can choose the stories, tell the stories and plan story-based lessons to tap on multiple intelligences. Gardner (1983) proposed the multiple intelligence theory that intelligence can be differentiated into specific modalities (linguistic-verbal, interpersonal and intrapersonal emotional skills development, logical-mathematical, musical, bodily-kinaesthetic, visual-spatial and naturalistic). Various classroom activities through storytelling that I’ve tried in my practice will be shared. These activities have been designed to have an impact on Gardner’s multiple intelligence and language development. The design of classroom activities using storytelling also tap on various aspects of children’s development such as thinking skills and creativity. Choice of Stories The type of stories chosen must be suitable for the age and language level of the children that is intended for. Teachers have to consider the language objectives (whether teaching adjectives, types of nouns, tenses) and choose content that is of relevance to the objectives. For young learners, stories need to be interesting, visually appealing and memorable. Stories that have a repetitive discourse pattern also helps in the memory of new words and promotes participation. The type and theme of stories chosen should be varied to enhance motivation (fables, biographical stories, stories about feelings, manners, and different cultures). Planning Storytelling Lessons When planning our stories, we have to first decide how to present the stories in various appealing multi-sensory ways (whether mime, puppet, or actions). Before we start to tell the story, we can start with a “warmer” activity, depending on the theme or title of the story. For example if the story is about animals, we can start with an animal song or Pictionary guessing the animal. If it is a book about Christmas, we can learn to sing various carols first. Next, teachers can encourage predicting skills by asking students to read the title and predict what the story is about and what is going to happen. It is best to have a semi-circle arrangement and have full eye contact with the students before we begin storytelling. During storytelling, teachers have to modulate voice and intonation for various characters in the story. At various junctures of the story, teachers can pause and give students time to participate, comment and respond to questions to check their understanding and to sustain their motivation. Difficult words can be written on the board and explained. Mind maps, semantic maps or character maps can be used to explain the words or illustrate the story events and characters. These mapping strategies can bring the students attention to important details or language points of the story. After storytelling, it is important to invite a personal response to the story by asking students to evaluate if they like the story, the characters or have had feelings or experiences like those in the story. Stories can be further extended by asking students to produce different endings to the story or dramatizing aspects of the story to reinforce the language points learnt. Below are some of the specific classroom activities using storytelling. Five classroom activities will be illustrated. A) Act out a story with puppets Age: 4-10 year old Title of the story: “Should I Share My Ice-cream? By Mo Willems (2011). This story is about an Elephant thinking hard whether to share his icecream with his good friend, Piggie. Language objectives: adjectives for food such as awesome, yummy, sweet, super, great, tasty, nice, cool, happy and sad Multiple intelligence: bodily-kinaesthetic(creating puppets, acting out with puppets); interpersonal emotional development (empathizing with character and friend, sharing and caring) Materials: Two puppets (elephant and pig) Procedure: 1. Divide the class into pairs. Assign a role to each child (either elephant or pig) 2. Get the children to make puppets 3. Teacher demonstrate by telling the story and acting out elephant and pig using different voices 4. Children get in pairs and retell the story. The use of puppets in storytelling provide a useful framework for turn taking and physical manipulation of the puppets help kids to stay engaged and attentive. B) Character profiling and mapping Age: 5-10 Title of the Story: “My Dad” by Anthony Browne (2000) or “Disney Princess” by Jun (2018). These two stories illustrate the character traits of dad and various Disney princesses. Language Objectives: Verbs and adjectives from My Dad book (jump, walk, eat, swim, strong, happy, big, soft, wise, laugh, brilliant and fantastic) Verbs from Disney Princess: kind, smart, caring, brave, polite Multiple intelligence: logical thinking, verbal, intrapersonal and interpersonal Materials: photocopies of the character maps Character Description Action E.g Snow White Kind Cares for dwarfs One can draw a circle diagram too. Procedure 1. Read the story about Disney Princess or My Dad. 2. Draw a picture of one of the characters and make notes about physical descriptions, character and various actions in the story 3. Divide the class into pairs 4. Extend the story by asking children to fill up the character diagram with one member in their family or their friend and share in pairs. This activity encourages children to think about different aspects of characters, verbs and adjectives and their ability to describe people. C) Storytelling and drama or mime Age : 4-8 Title of the story: “Dear Zoo” by Rod Campbell (1982). This story is about writing to the zoo to send a pet and various animals were sent with various traits. Ultimately the puppy was the best. Language objective: animals (elephant, giraffe, lion, camel, snake, monkey, frog, puppy) , adjectives ( big, tall, fierce, grumpy, scary, naughty, jumpy, scary) Multiple-intelligence: bodily-kinaesthetic, visual-spatial, verbal- linguistic Materials: picture cards of animals or sticky notes Procedure: 1. Teacher tell the story to children using mime and gesture (the word sent back can be illustrated through the use of shooing each animal away using the back of the hand; mime the adjectives fierce and grumpy using facial expressions) 2. Tell the story again but this time get children to mime and use gestures 3. Cover each adjective in the book with sticky notes and kids guess the adjective 4. Get picture cards of animals and write various adjectives and play a matching game (matching the right animal with adjectives) 5. Children can act out as various animals Through repeated telling of a story using various modalities, children can remember the language in the story. D) Story Sequence and categorizing Age: 6-12 Title of the story: “Tortoise and Hare’s Race” based on Aesop’s Fable by Zoe McLoughlin (2013). This story highlighted the importance of exercising and how Tortoise won the race and not the Hare who was lazy and ate junk food. Language objectives : categorizing junk food and healthy food; learn words such as muscles, bones, exercise Multiple intelligence: intrapersonal (to take care of oneself with healthy food, not to be lazy), verbal- linguistic, logical-mathematical (sequencing) Materials: strips of card, each with a sentence from the story; drawings with various sections of the story Procedure 1. Read the story to ensure children understand the structure and sequence, understand the meaning and moral of the story 2. Divide the class into fours 3. Distribute the strips of card or pictures with sections of the story 4. Children arrange the sentences to fit the order of the story 5. Children then read their sentences and retell the story to the rest of the group. 6. At the end, children can choose to change parts of the story or predict what happens if Hare practices for the next race and stop eating junk food 7. Stories can be extended by asking children about differences between healthy and junk food This activity develops sequencing and categorizing skills and facilitate listening and turn-taking skills and raise awareness about health and self care. E) Story chants, actions and art (multi sensory) Age: 4-8 Titles of books: “From Head to Toe” by Eric Carle (1997). This story describes various animals and actions. “The Rainbow Fish” by Marcus Pfister (2002). This story tells how a rainbow fish was initially hesitant in sharing his beautiful scales but ultimately at the end of the story, he started sharing his scales with the other fish and made friends. “Homes Around the World” by Judy Ling (2005). This story is about homes around the world from various cultures. Multiple intelligence: Visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, bodily-kinesthetic, naturalistic, musical, artistic, interpersonal Materials: Art supplies Procedure 1. Read the book from Head to Toe with actions “I am a penguin and I turn my head. Can you do it?” 2. Ask the student to name the animal and to do the corresponding actions. 3. We can add a tune to the words and ask students to sing. 4. Read the book Rainbow Fish and get children to understand the importance of sharing 5. Draw and create a rainbow fish and retell the story 6. Read the book Homes Around the World and for students to understand how various cultures have various homes. 7. Extend the story by asking students about their home preferences, about their culture and environment and to imagine the kinds of homes they like to live 8. Design and draw the home and describe Therefore, various enjoyable classroom activities can be designed with storytelling for children of different ages. Classroom arrangements can also be varied whether in pairs or groups to enhance concentration skills and rapport when children collaborate to complete tasks. By extending storytelling through art, music, kinesthetic learning and drama, these classroom activities also also tap on and promote multiple intelligences and creativity in the classroom. These activities ultimately improve language development and children’s confidence and motivation in using new language. Storytelling as a method in education can thus be used in diverse ways to help children to interact and learn the world around them. References Browne, A (2000). My Dad. Random House Children’s Publishers, UK. Campbell, R (1982). Dear Zoo. Maximilian Children’s Books, London. Carle, E (1997). From Head to Toe. Harper Collins, USA. Gardner (1983). Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Fontana Jun, C. Y (2018). Disney Princess. Disney Enterprises, Beijing. Ling, J (2005). Homes Around the World. Federal-Marshall Cavendish Education, Singapore. McLoughlin, Z(2013). Tortoise and Hare’s Race based on Aesop’s Fable. National Geographic Learning, USA. Pfister, M (2002). The Rainbow Fish. North-South Books, USA. Willems, M (2011). Should I Share My Icecream? Hyperion Books for Children, New York.