Sunday, October 28, 2012

Why are stories important?

Why are stories told and retold?  How are they told? What makes a story worth sharing? Who decides what story is worth sharing (and which stories aren't)?  Who is telling the story?  How would the story look the same or different if someone else told the story?  How would I go about telling my own story (or the story of another person in history or my life)?

Appendix A: Why are stories important inquiry framework
These are just a few of the big questions our Grade 5 and 6 students are answering in what has been a wonderful and worthwhile inquiry (for the Inquiry framework, see Appendix A) supporting our Grade 5 and 6 English Language Arts teaching.  The final project will culminate with a Museum Box sharing the story of an individual in at least 3 different forms.

To help our students understand the 'why' and 'how', we have used the story of Ruby Bridges as a catalyst for discussion and understanding.  The inquiry began by introducing the Normal Rockwell painting of Ruby's walk to school entitled, The Problem We All Live With.  Following this, we watched a short 2 minute video clip of the Disney film The Story of Ruby Bridges.  Further to this, we read from her autobiography, Through My Eyes,  and a biography The Story of Ruby Bridges  We have read New York Times articles describing Ruby's Walk, listened (and sang along, of course) to a song, Ruby's Shoes, by Lori McKenna, viewed photographs of the day on Ruby Bridges website, watched a video and inteview with Ruby upon meeting with President Barack Obama, read a poem written by Ruby's mother. 

Some of the mini challenges we have given the students include: independently ranking different ways of telling the story and discussing/comparing why different media to tell stories are preferred or higher ranked for some students and not others (a good intro to learning styles); writing a journal entry about Ruby's walk; "stepping into the story" to dramatize Ruby's walk ourselves using photographs of the day.

Our early observations and ongoing, daily discussions and assessments are telling us that the students are getting it!  Last week, students identified some key understanding (and even more not included here) to our first question:  Why are stories important?
  • they teach us about history
  • they share a message
  • they help us understand what prompted a change in our life today
  • they help to preserve culture (pass on lessons, beliefs..)
  • they help us understand history, or the present

This week, we head into a new phase of the inquiry: Who decides which stories are told?  We will begin this with a statue walk tomorrow morning and try to decide what stories are behind the statues we visit, and of course, who decided that the story of this individual/s are worth preserving with a statue.   One absolutely great thing that happened last week was that a student set this up perfectly for us--asking why we don't hear the stories of any of the children who attended the school.  We have a perfect lead into this planned, of course... Stay tuned!

No comments:

Post a Comment