Storytelling in the Classroom Lesson Plans

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These lesson plans are designed to assist teachers in helping their students develop and perform their own five minute stories. The lesson plans are intended to be easily adaptable to specific classroom needs. The lessons were developed by Teresa Love, who teaches Arts Education at Brigham Young University, for the Utah State Office of Education’s POPS program. Any interested professional can use the lesson plans for non-commercial uses. If your school is interested in participating in the POPS program,

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Lesson Plans

Here is some specific information about the lesson plans:

Broad across grades objective:

To encourage the telling of personal stories by schoolchildren.

Lesson plan focus: Students identify, create, analyze, and tell their own stories. Listening and speaking skills are emphasized. (Writing skills are closely related, and extensions for addressing writing skills are included with the last plans.)

Storytelling is a learning experience in which both teller and listener are enriched. Helping students create their own stories, learn to tell these stories and to listen well to others’ stories address various Utah standards outlined in each specific lesson plan.

The lesson plans largely follow ideas developed in more detail by Donald Davis in the DVD Make It, Tell It, Write It. Each school participating in the POPS program will receive a copy of the DVD along with other teacher resources.


Program Rationale:

Listening to or telling stories, whether the recounting of life experiences, family history or culturally relevant oral tradition stories (fables, fairytales, legends, myths, and fables) is an activity with which many modern students have little experience. Even privileged populations engage in story almost exclusively though print, electronic or digital venues as opposed to live conversation between a teller and an audience. In the modern family there is less time taken to talk around the family table as members succumb to busy schedules that preclude such gatherings and opportunities for telling. In our current school system, challenged as it is with an instructional time crisis due in part to demanding required assessment activity, little deliberate storytelling occurs. And yet storytelling has for time beyond mind been the purveyor of culture and mores, building understanding, and language, as well as conversational and listening skills in audiences. What storytelling has to offer, students still need today. How then do we reclaim this rich educational tradition for children? How are they to capture the enabling educational elements of storytelling, without a vision of what that might look like, sound like and feel like in this absence of traditional storytellers?

While there seems to be less incidental, everyday telling in modern American life, there has developed a movement that honors the old telling tradition. Performing storytellers, in the manner of the bard, or tribal/family teller have begun to emerge to fill the dearth of incidental telling that exists today. These tellers are so experienced that they effectively gather in listeners in entertaining communal experiences. They demonstrate skills that the casual storyteller can emulate. An experience with a fine performing storyteller can motivate others find, tell and listen to others’ stories. Such an experience can create vision as to what storytelling is, and how it can be used.

But what about those closest to a student’s everyday life? What about their teachers and their family members? It may be a culturally exciting experience to be in a performing teller’s audience, but to cause real change teachers and family need to model telling effectively and frequently.

These lesson plans include opportunities not only to build on a performing teller’s concert, but also opportunities for teachers, and family members, as well as the students to begin to develop their storytelling skills. Designed as stand alone CCSS aligned lessons, they can be integrated with other core subjects and standards. For schools participating in the POPS program, there are professional development opportunities and tools included for the teachers.



Please note that the level of engagement within these lesson plans should be left mainly up to the classroom teacher as he/she is the expert on what his/her students need.

The following are the expected commitment of participating teachers:

1. Attend school storytelling concert with class.

2. Teach class adapted versions of the lesson plans provided.

3. Help students develop and perform their own five minute story in front of the class.


A Word about Kindergarten Students:

Kindergartners are different from school to school, month to month and sometimes day to day, they grow and develop so quickly. It is very hard to write a lesson plan that can take into account all the variables. Kindergarten participation in the curriculum is not required, although teachers can feel free, if they so desire, to use some or all of the the K-3 lesson plans with kindergarteners.

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