|Students improve language, leadership skills through story program|
|Saturday, 14 January 2012 00:00|
“The ancient art of storytelling prepares students for future success in a powerful way,” said Greacian Goeke, Storybridge Program Director. “Stories provide irresistible material, so the students work hard to practice their listening and speaking skills. When they are caught up in a story there’s a sense of anticipation and fun, essential ingredients for learning.”
Over the past three years, the non-profit Storybridge has served over 900 fourth and fifth graders,
many who are second-language learners, in 11 East Bay Title 1 schools. Trained elder storytellers bring interactive storytelling techniques to the classroom once a week for 24 weeks.
Independent test results reveal that elementary students who participated in the interactive Storybridge Listening and Speaking Program achieved significant improvement in higher-order thinking skills such as reasoning, inference and sequencing.
In addition to their improved test scores, Storybridge students experienced significant improvement as public speakers, even among challenging students.
“The goal is just not to entertain them with stories but teach them to tell stories and pass them on to learn public speaking skills and express themselves fully in English,” says Nina Serrano, 77, a master storyteller who lives in Oakland and has been volunteering her skills and time for the Storybridge Program since 1993.
Serrano speaks both English and Spanish but prepares the children to present in English. Most of her students are learning English in school. Serrano asks the kids to ask their parents to tell stories to them and the kids then share those stories in class. They are stories about their parents’ life and the family’s history. “The only way to keep stories alive is to tell them,” says Serrano.
Serrano knows the future value of public speaking skills and translation skills for the young students.
“It’s the ability to speak to a group and look people in the face and use gestures - to fully express themselves in public or in the job market,” she says.
“Many of the children are brilliant translators and don’t know it,” she adds. “They are learning both languages at the same time and their minds are so fast. Many of the kids are able to tell a story equally well in both languages.
Serrano says it is wonderful to see when the kids realize they have real skills and an advantage in the future workplace.
“It increases their self-esteem because they realize they have a skill they didn’t know the word for (translator). They don’t have a disability - they have a great, great advantage knowing the two languages.”
“Being able to tell a captivating story and hold a group’s attention is a leadership skill,” said Goeke. “Children from all communities should be encouraged to develop these strengths.”
Serrano says she is very fulfilled in her volunteer work when she sees that the students “will be active agents in the world, active in their community.”
“It gives me great joy and hope for the future when I see what these kids are capable of - they are the future.”
Storybridge is part of Stagebridge, the nation’s first senior theatre company. For more information, visit www.stagebridge.org.
|Last Updated ( Tuesday, 17 January 2012 20:12 )|