Exploring the Art of Storytelling
When we think of literacy, we often imagine students reading books, engrossed in someone else’s story. Anyone who has heard students’ lively chatter at an afterschool program knows that students have their own stories to tell. Most are eager to share stories about school triumphs, family fun, sports, pets, and anything else that captivates their interest.
If you’re not sure how to direct a group of students buzzing with excitement, don’t worry about quieting them. Have them write their stories down. Writing does more than provide a creative outlet; it also boosts literacy skills. Afterschool programs provide great opportunities for students to practice writing. Moreover, engaging activities and regular practice tend to increase students’ desire to write. Consider some of these ideas when you have students write:
- Have younger students tell their stories out loud while an adult writes them down and then reads them back.
- Save spell check for later. If students are not sure of correct spellings, they can sound out words and keep writing. Encourage students to keep “word banks” or lists of new words that they can use in future writing projects.
- Ask older students to review one another’s work and offer helpful suggestions.
- Use technology. Ongoing writing activities like journal writing can become blogs. Students can share news and essays through podcasts.
- Get the community involved. Ask students to interview family and community members and then write essays based on the interviews.
- Celebrate student writing by allowing them to perform a play, read a story, or find another way to share their written masterpieces.
Writing in afterschool can be fun. It is a promising practice, an afterschool instructional strategy with evidence suggesting links to student achievement. More information about using writing activities can be found in the literacy section of the Afterschool Training Toolkit. The Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory developed the content for the literacy section of the Afterschool Training Toolkit.
Afterschool programs provide great opportunities for students to practice writing. Moreover, engaging activities and regular practice tend to increase students’ desire
SEDL Center for Quality Afterschool helps state education agencies and local practitioners develop high-quality programs for academic enrichment as well as youth development activities.