An article about the first event in our 2013 Early Childhood and Care Workshop Series.
Storytelling and Story Acting Workshop with Trisha LeeJanuary 29, 2013 Early childhood educators don’t get to sit down very often during their school day. But this January, 150 Boston-area early childhood practitioners did just that, when they attended the first of Lesley University’s Early Childhood Education and Care Workshop Series, presented by educator and drama professional Trisha Lee. Ms. Lee, who is a London-based director of MakeBelieveArts, was at Lesley to talk about her experiences bringing the storytelling/story acting techniques of early childhood educator and researcher Vivian Paley to classrooms across the United Kingdom. She outlined the technique to an engaged audience eager to try the techniques in their own PreK-2 classrooms.One of the highlights of the workshop was an appearance by a group of children from the after-school program at the Agassiz Baldwin Community in Cambridge, MA. They were invited onto the stage, and formed a circle. Ms. Lee then gave them a simple story to act out, each taking a part. Once they were warmed up, Ms. Lee asked if anyone in the group had a story to tell. Three children volunteered, and the students acted out their stories. A group of adults then got a chance to do the same. In this technique, storytelling and story acting are connected, with skills and learning imparted by both activities. Ben Mardell, co-program director of the Early Childhood programs at the Lesley Graduate School of Education, outlines some of the benefits of using drama and storytelling in classrooms. Children are helped with literacy and oral language, vocabulary expansion, written word recognition, social interaction self-regulation, and imagination, he says. Also on the list is the thrill of hearing and seeing your own story being acted out by others. Research also shows that participating in dramatic play leads to enhanced language and literacy skills.The Boston Public School system is piloting a program that brings storytelling/story acting into a sample group of kindergarten classrooms this year, with 50 participating teachers. Next year, the program will go system-wide, with all kindergartens participating. Many of the Innovations workshop participants will be bringing the new-found techniques into their own Boston-area classrooms, or will be trying new ideas learned in the workshop.After the workshop, attendees reconnected with peers, discussed their classroom experiences, and talked with alumni and instructors. One of the goals of the Lesley series, apart from highlighting important ideas and trends in early childhood education, is to bring together various members of the early childhood community in Greater Boston.The second workshop, Infusing Inquiry into Prescribed Curriculum, was held on February 26, 2013, wherein workshop leaders talked about experiences with keeping children engaged when using prescribed curriculum. Boston Public School preschool teacher Jody Doyle uses the Opening the World of Learning (OWL). During a unit on colors, she listened to her children’s interests, had them take photographs of colors in the neighborhood, and supported the creation of a whole palette of paint colors. Read an article about the last workshop in the series: Children As Citizens.This is the second annual Innovations series.
Kathleen A. Linnane
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