Section 2

Ways to collect and perform stories

Introduction

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this section, you will have:
  • worked with your local community to promote language skills and pride in cultural heritage;
  • planned and organised opportunities for performance before an audience.
Using different kinds of oral activities can develop your pupils’ confidence in speaking and listening and promote pride in their home languages. This will have a positive impact on their self-esteem. Pupils who feel more confident about who they are will learn more easily. The activities in this section provide opportunities for your pupils to collect, rehearse and perform stories in front of an audience. It is suggested that you work with older community members by asking for their help in providing stories and in sharing their storytelling skills. These activities will build competence in the home language, on to which you can later build additional language skills.

Page 1

Community knowledge of stories is a valuable resource for listening and speaking activities outside and inside the classroom. It is important that your pupils learn to respect and love the wisdom and heritage of their home language and culture. By strengthening their speaking and listening skills in the home language in an enjoyable way, the pupils will grow in confidence too. Because the art of storytelling is no longer so deeply valued in some communities, people may have forgotten some of the richness and detail of stories. A way of building language resources for your class is to uncover older and more authentic versions of stories. You can do this by talking to other people in the community.

Case Study 1: Using the multilingualism of your class

Mr Kimaryo teaches Standard 4 at Makanya Primary School in Tanzania. The school is near a sisal estate, where workers speak many different languages. In his class of 70 pupils, 10 speak Chaga, 6 speak Chirundi, 3 speak Chinamwanga, and the rest speak Pare. He usually speaks Swahili when he teaches them. Mr Kimaryo wanted his pupils to collect stories from their homes and to build their confidence in speaking by telling stories in their home languages. He began his lesson by showing pupils a picture of an old man and some members of the family seated around the fireplace. He then asked the pupils in pairs to discuss what the people were doing. The pairs reported their answers to the class. He then asked the pupils if they also sat around the fireplace to listen to stories, and many said they didn’t. He told the pupils to go home and ask one of the older members of the community to tell them a story. In the next lesson, he divided the pupils into groups. He made two groups of Chaga speakers, one group of Chirundi speakers and one of Chinamwanga. He divided the Pare speakers into ten groups. He asked each pupil to tell their story to the rest of the group members, using the home language. Mr Kimaryo went round and listened as they told their stories. He was pleased at how well they told the stories, especially the ways they used their voices to add interest.

Activity 1: Sharing stories in the home language

Your pupils have found out what older people know about storytelling in Section 1. Now is the time for them to collect stories from them.
  • Talk to your pupils about their experiences of listening to stories, and find out what kinds of stories they enjoy. Ask them whether they listen to stories at home, and who are the storytellers in their community.
  • Ask them to find someone from the home community to tell them a story. They will need to remember the story because they will have to tell it to their classmates. A good way of learning the story is for them to tell it to a number of people at home. As they do this, they should check that they have all the details of the story right.
  • In the next lesson, group together pupils with the same home language (see Key Resource: Using group work in your classroom). Ask them to tell each other the stories they collected, using their home languages.
How did your pupils react to this activity? How could you build up a resource of these stories?

Page 2

Inviting community members into the classroom will help to motivate pupils and build their storytelling expertise in the home language. You can also ask your visitors to offer their knowledge of stories, to make sure that the stories the pupils tell are as complete and authentic as possible. This will mean that these stories become a rich resource for learning. If you have a large class, this kind of community support is particularly helpful. Asking for support from your head teacher and colleagues may make it easier to get some members of the community involved on a regular basis.

Case Study 2: Inviting community participation in an Open Day

Four teachers at St Mary’s Junior Primary School in Dar Es Salaam were all enrolled in the same NTI distance-learning teacher upgrading programme. One of the modules asked them to explore how resources around them could be used in the classroom. They did some work on collecting boxes, bottles, plants and other resources and using them in science, mathematics and language activities. But the module reminded them that people are the most valuable resource for learning. It suggested that they arrange an Open Day for pupils and older community members to share their knowledge and skills. The day the four teachers organised was a great success. Mrs Rwakatare, the School Governing Body chairperson, told the history of the school. Some older community members demonstrated crafts, such as basket weaving, tobacco curing, and beadwork, and women renowned for their cooking gave recipes for traditional dishes. Various grandfathers and grandmothers told itan (traditional tales). Then it was the turn of the pupils to demonstrate what they had learned at school. The day ended with the performance of songs and dances by different groups. As a result of the activities of the day, several community members became regular visitors to the school. They passed on their skills in various crafts and told stories, which were later used in class.

Activity 2: Coaching from community ‘experts’

You will need to plan this activity well in advance and allow a whole morning or afternoon for it.
  • Arrange your pupils into groups of the same home language. Ask each home language group to invite someone from their community to class to help pupils with their storytelling skills. Give each group a written invitation to take home (see Resource 1: Sample invitation letter).
  • On the day, ask the community members to join the group and listen to the pupils telling stories. Ask the ‘experts’ to give the pupils guidance and advice on how to improve the stories and their storytelling.
  • Once the ‘training’ part is over, groups can come together and listen to stories from the experts. Songs, poems and riddles could also be shared.
What did the community participation add to the learning in your classroom? Were you pleased with the way you organised your activity? What would you do differently next time?

Page 3

It is important that every pupil is able to communicate effectively and is given the opportunity to be imaginative. Group story performances can give even quiet pupils the chance to speak, sing, act, dance, etc. without too much pressure. Each pupil in a story-performing group can play a role: a character in the story, a narrator or part of a chorus. Pupils with specific talents can create ‘props’ and ‘costumes’ with objects such as pieces of cloth or paper or a few twigs from a tree. In classes where pupils do not all speak the same home language, working with fellow speakers of the same language in order to prepare a performance in this language can be very positive. This next part provides you with ways to develop pupils’ confidence and skills in speaking their home language. These ways can also be used to improve skills in a lingua franca or an additional language.

Case Study 3: A story performance day with a large class

Mrs Rebecca Kassam teaches a class of 100 Standard 5 pupils in a village near Tanga in Eastern Tanzania. She decides to hold an end-of-term story performance day. She organises her pupils into groups of five and then encourages them not just to tell stories but also to perform them so that both performers and audience will enjoy them. She tells pupils that if they wish to perform in a language that not everyone knows, they must decide how to help the audience understand the meaning by using actions, facial expressions and different objects (‘props’). Mrs Kassam gives her pupils time to plan and rehearse their chosen stories. As they work, she monitors their progress and sometimes shortens or lengthens the preparation time. She has found that pupils prefer to prepare and perform their work outdoors. With 80 pupils, it would take up too much time if all groups performed for everyone in the class. On the story performance day, Mrs Kassam asks pupils to form four circles, with four groups in each circle. She numbers the groups in each circle from 1 to 4. Group 1 performs in the circle centre for groups 2, 3 and 4. Then group 2 performs for groups 1, 3 and 4 and so on until all groups have had a turn. After the performances, Mrs Kassam asks each group to discuss what they have learned. She thinks about what some of the quieter pupils in her class have shown about their understanding and how she can use this information to plan the next stage of learning. Key Resource: Working with large and/or multigrade classes gives further ideas for teaching large classes.

Key Activity: Performing stories for an audience

Ask pupils to form themselves into groups of six. Ask them to:
  • think about the stories they have told and listened to;
  • decide which story they think would be the best one to perform for the rest of the class, so that everyone can understand and enjoy it – more than one group can choose the same story;
  • identify all the characters and decide who will play each part. They may also need a narrator;
  • decide on the language(s) to use, sound effects, gestures, clothes and objects that will help bring the story to life and who brings which resources.
Allow time to rehearse and set a time limit for the performance. Monitor each group and help them as necessary by providing ideas or suggesting ways to do things. Ask the audience to give feedback to each group (see Resource 2: Assessing group story performances). If you can, tape-record the stories that are performed. Otherwise, take notes for later use. The stories could be perfected and performed to parents and community leaders in your area to raise funds for buying resources for your class.

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