Teach English in Heshi Zhen - Yueyang Shi

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Storytelling is and has also been an engaging way of sharing culture, moral values, and societal norms between people. It has existed before written form, and it continues to be important in the development and celebration of creativity, usually through embellished history or narrative fiction. Listening, speaking, grammar, vocabulary, and confidence-building can all be developed and improved through storytelling. Here we explore potential classroom storytelling activities that promote these skills for all levels. A beginning level activity is the controlled application of story spine to act out a scene. Give students an example of a common archetype (e.g. hero, villain) using visuals. Ask them to think of four examples of adventures this character might have and list these on the board. Expand the first example to model a plot flow chart on the board (catalyst consequence climax resolution) and briefly list one detail under each category. For the second example, interactively discuss and write down the answers elicited from the following questions. What event started the adventure (catalyst)? What happened next (consequence)? What was the most stressful or exciting part of the story (the climax)? How does it end (resolution)? This plot outline will be the prompt they can refer to for the role-play storytelling activity. The students will pair up to complete a simple past tense narrative for the third example on the board. One student narrates while the other silently acts it out. Repeat this with the fourth example and switch the speaking and acting roles. Before the activity begins, model it with a volunteer using the first example. After the activity, get feedback or demonstrations on how students fleshed out the final two examples. An intermediate level usage of storytelling can combine listening, speaking, and the use of transitions to create story endings. Set the stage with a study session of eliciting and boarding transition words. Next, have a practice activity of ordering events in a narrative, then joining them with appropriate segues from a word bank. For the activate stage, gather the students in a circle. Listen to an audiobook short story and stop after the introduction. Use a ball tossed at random to continue the story to the ending of the class’s choice. This will practice comfort with fluency, talking spontaneously, and transition words such as “Next, then, suddenly, in addition, because of that, finally…”. Make sure every student contributes before the story ends or use multiple audios to make sure everyone gets a chance to build off their classmates’ creativity to create their own endings. To increase difficulty level, the students can be tasked to produce transitions from the entire student circle within a time limit. Points can be awarded with each successful circle completion, with a certain number of points leading to a rewarding game or activity. In larger classes, this activity can be divided into groups of 5-8 students each. This advanced level group mill-drill will integrate listening, speaking, and reported speech practice. After eliciting different genres of fiction and mythology, board these responses. Discuss common aspects found across genres (emotion, surprise, conflict, etc), and list at least four of these as well. Form an even number of groups containing three to four students each. The groups pick their genres and at least one common aspect to include. Finally, the groups will select a verb tense from a hat. They are given 10 minutes to prepare a dialogue in that tense and genre without showing their writing to another team. The group leader will make sure the common aspect is addressed in the dialogue, and every member will contribute to the writing or acting of the dialogue. Each team performs their story while the other team writes what they hear. They switch roles, then give feedback on what happened and what was said using reported speech in the correctly backshifted tense to explain the story. Storytelling can take many forms. Interdisciplinary ideas include comic strip, legend, song, poem or one-act play. These ideas can all be approached from an individual or group project perspective and can be worked on during set time periods daily or weekly. These activities generate a fun, creative, confidence-building outlet in which students can tell a narrative. When introducing the project, the teacher should include a guided in-class creative activity that acts as a practice session for the class. For example, the class can use a tune and rewrite a verse together in teams in an interactive way utilizing the board and the topic or theme of the day. For shy students reticent to speak or perform in class, many of these ideas can be submitted in written form. For the comic strip in particular, it allows students to shine a light on their talents outside solely language-based pursuits. Legends, on the other hand, are common in many cultures; their retelling can be a fun way to find commonalities in traditional stories. For the higher-level student, a good phonetic, spelling, and pronunciation exercise would be to repurpose existing tunes, rhythms, or poem frameworks to create their own rhyming song or poem that tells a story. Special rewards could be given to any who would care to perform. The same could be said for a one-act play, which would be good for a group project that takes the class on its own adventure. Different levels of control or guidance could be provided by the teacher, as determined by the students’ needs and level. However, the teacher should allow these projects to develop naturally without interjection, as long as the project goals are clearly understood. Upon submission, the projects should be made anonymous, mixed, and redistributed. Each story should be explained by the other student. If that is difficult, discuss what made the story hard to understand and what story structure or aspect would be helpful to make comprehension easier. Reference Kenn Adams, story spine: https://www.aerogrammestudio.com/2013/06/05/back-to-the-story-spine/ Accessed December 9, 2019