We learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it than we do from learning the answer itself.~ ~Lloyd Alexander
This year, I have continued my work with Louesa Byrne at Thompson Elementary and Story Workshop. Our project evolved from a visit to Opal School in Portland, Oregon, June 2013. The Opal School is a K-5 school guided by the principles of the early childhood schools of Reggio Emilia. During our visit to Opal School we witnessed Story Workshop and wondered what story workshop would look like in our context.
Questions guiding our inquiry:
- What is the role story workshop in supporting literacy development?
- How can we integrate essential skills of reading and writing into story workshop?
- What will be the affect on students’ knowledge of story and vocabulary development through regular participation in story workshop?
Story workshop operates under the belief that everyone has a story to tell and that stories can be communicated in many different ways. Students build their language and literacy development by building and representing stories with a variety of objects.
In the workshop, children are given provocations in the form of materials such as blocks, paint, sand, play-dough and loose parts. The children build, play and make the story come alive in their actions and words. As teachers, we document their stories to make their learning visible and give space for the students to be authors and communicate their many stories. We capture these stories through photographs, audio recordings and recording their stories.
During this first months of school, our focus has been on establishing some routines within story workshop, the creation stories using different materials and the ability to tell a story orally. We record the children’s stories using photos and the program Pages.
Our big ideas for the students:
- Everyone has a story to tell
- Authors find ideas for stories in different places
- Stories emerge from different materials
Some of the provocations that we have used to inspire stories:
play dough and loose parts
Natural materials and loose parts with grass mats
gems, natural materials and ocean finger puppets
We value the time story workshop gives students to work with materials, develop stories and share ideas. We value the time story workshop gives us to get to know the students, make connections and watch them develop as story tellers.