The year is wrapping up in 5th grade! Where has the time gone?! We love many things about the end of the school year, but our favorite is the culmination of our Storytelling Unit. We have a big Final Stage show in which every single one of our 26 students steps up onto the stage and tells a true story LIVE!
There are so many reasons why we love teaching storytelling. It is rigorous, social justice oriented, colorful, and has the power to be incredibly personal and meaningful. We love how it opens up spaces for each student's voice, and we love how it allows space for deeper connections with family friends, especially in the act of reflection. However, this year, we had our students fill out a survey so we could have a sense of what they thought about studying the craft of storytelling. Check out some of their thoughts below!
On what IS storytelling anyway?
G: I have learned that storytelling is more than words coming out of your mouth. It is a memory, a feeling and a meaning. I have learned how strong that is.
C: One thing I learned about story telling is that a real story has to have all these things that some memories don't. I could have told a lot of different stories but they might not have meaning or change so they can't be a story.
R: Other than learning about what storytelling is in the first place, I have learned about how to make a sad story happy, and how to make a memory have meaning. I have also learned how to take these memories that I have and make myself learn something valuable that I will always carry with me.
On what storytelling taught us about others:
G:I have learned that everyone has their own thoughts running through their brains that I do not know about. They have things that I do not know about. I have to respect that.
R:I have learned about so many stories that people in my class have gone through. I have learned what people really felt during different times.
G2: I have learned what some people like and don’t like, I have learned what people have done in the past and if they liked it or not, and best of all I have more info about my friends and what might upset them if I somehow bring the subject up. I also learned a lot of new messages that I didn’t have in my stories and now I can use those new messages in my lifetime.
S: What I have learned about others in this unit is that people have many stories to share and that if you listen, you can learn about them and get closer to friends.
On what storytelling has taught us about ourselves:
C: One thing I learned about myself is that even though I might not be the best writer and sometimes I have trouble with coming up with ideas I love the performing. I really love going on stage and performing. In a lot of the time writing is hard for me but, storytelling feels so natural because you're talking about you.
R: Other than learning that I love to tell stories I have learned so many things about myself. To list a few, I have learned that I am good at acting in the stories but I have to push myself a lot harder to find messages and to convey meanings; I have also taught myself how to push myself to do my best.
F: I have relearned these stories that were just in my head and released them from the back of my mind and let them come out of my head using words. I have also learned these lessons from myself over again and I am going to follow the examples that I said in my story over again to be a better person.
S: What I learned about me in this unit is that I have had really meaningful experiences that I did not think were important, and that I could not see the value in the experience. Now I see value in lots of experiences I have had.
E: I think that writing this reflection right now is what is helping me learn about storytelling. This is because this reflection is giving me the time to sit back and and realize all these things about storytelling. There were moments during the storytelling unit where I was mad, or nervous, or unsure, or rushed, or many other things. Now, I can see beyond that and I realize that this unit, even though it has probably been the most challenging writing unit I have ever had in my years at Sheridan, it has helped me a lot. And I think I am learning from all the challenges that our storytelling unit presented.
And finally, they wouldn't be 5th graders without some spunk (and emojis!):
G: Can you please tell the people who thought that we were too young for storytelling that this was one of the best writing units ever and that I had so much fun telling my story and hearing others! Thank you. (;
We hope even if you don't have time for a full blown storytelling unit, that you find spaces to hear and share stories in your classrooms and communities. If you are thinking about a storytelling unit or workshop and are on the fence-- please take it on! If you need any support, feel free to reach out to us, we'd love to talk about it with you!