Thursday, March 14, 2013

Telling Family Stories

What's the impact of telling family stories? Here is what author Natalie Kinsey Warnock sees as she works with classrooms across Vermont:
. . .after telling the story of my great-great-grandfather, who fought in the Civil War, and survived the Sultana disaster (this little-known tragedy is our country’s worst ship disaster), I have seen classrooms of students, grades 3-6, storm the school’s library, strip every Civil War book off the shelves to search through them, while the astonished librarian told me that she’d never had a book go off that shelf before.  Reluctant readers and writers have told me, after doing projects on family stories, that they never knew writing could be so much fun, and that they wanted to become writers.   I’ve seen students who had never written more than a paragraph before, suddenly write five pages about a family story that they’d found, and beg to take it home over the weekend so they can keep working on it.   All those sparks of interest began with a family story.
Inspired by these experiences, Natalie worked with curriculum developers and creative teachers in Glover to start the Story Keepers project. In the pilot Natalie saw that
Every week, students have a new artifact they want to show me, or a new family story to tell me.  The teacher commented on how even some of the lower level students, who struggle with reading, comprehension, and writing, are shining with this curriculum---they are excited, enthusiastic, eager to share and participate, and are enjoying success.
Now she's bringing her curriculum to the world to spark a ". . . different kind of history revolution in this country, for students to see that history could be exciting, interesting, and relevant."

Come learn about telling family stories in the classroom - and on your own! - this Saturday, March 16th, at 11:00 am at Bear Pond Books. Natalie will be joined by author and educator Jenny Land (The Spare Room). There will be good refreshments, quite good discounts on purchases, and tremendously good conversation. We hope to see you there! 

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