Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Article in Winchester Star

WFEE: Storyteller grips Muraco imaginations

By Staff reports

Fri Oct 23, 2009, 10:01 AM EDT

Winchester, MA - Tales of hairy bears, five uncles named “Pete” and purple stuffing for Thanksgiving mesmerized students at a recent Muraco Elementary School assembly.

A grant from the Winchester Foundation for Educational Excellence (WFEE) brought three storytellers to Muraco for a school assembly and individual classroom work.

The storytellers — Andrea Lovett, Lani Peterson and Norah Dooley — used the assembly to introduce the oral tradition to students.

“Students take in more vocabulary and complicated concepts through oral tradition,” explained Lovett. “Narrative is their first language.”

The focus quickly shifted to the classroom where third, fourth and fifth-graders learned how to draw on their own experiences to tell stories about their lives. Once they master telling a story, they will work on writing it, reinforcing existing curriculum.

Fifth grade teacher Brenda Turney came to WFEE for help bringing the storytellers to Muraco. She believes storytelling will improve student writing and enhance self-esteem.

“The oral tradition teaches the essential components of how to organize a story,” said Turney. “Often, students who struggle with writing will find that writing becomes easier as they gain storytelling skills.”

“WFEE was delighted to fund this grant,” said WFEE Executive Director Caren Connelly. “It is creative and promotes teacher collaboration across grade levels. Students with varying abilities and maturity can use their own stories to master writing. This fits well with WFEE’s longtime emphasis on improving literacy skills within the Winchester school system.”

The storytelling project will culminate in the spring with a school-wide festival.

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