One of the great things about working in a progressive education school like Friends School of Minnesota, is that learning and teaching remain fresh, vibrant, and full. Our school supports teachers and learners to take risks and expand their creative vision, and knowledge base.
In this spirit of trying out new and exciting ideas, I introduced kindergarten students to a new structure for learning called Story Workshop. FSMN K-4 teachers have been learning about Story Workshop which was developed at the Reggio-inspired Opal School in Portland.
The past few weeks, my kindergarten students have had the opportunity to use rich materials such as tempera and watercolor paints, black line pens, small blocks and animals, dramatic play, the sand table, stones, pine cones and other natural objects to spark their imagination and create a story during play.
The workshop starts with students gathering for a provocation. Then they agree what materials they will use during play to generate stories. Stories are created with these rich materials through play.
After this session, they are invited to share their work in a Story Congress. This is a time when they might tell their story or it may have been dictated to an adult and be already “published” and ready to read. Students may decide whether or not their story is “published” in print or not, but ample time is given for students to relate their work and discoveries.
The first few sessions of Story Workshop have generated many stories and rich sharing for kindergarten students.
- One student painted and told the story of a surgery she had at age two. The next week she wanted to go deeper and drew a different part of the story in her journal and dictated the words to me.
- Another student, after hearing an Inuit poem I read as a provocation, entitled Magic Words, illustrated and dictated a story about animals transforming to people and people animals.
- Another student wrote about Diablo the crow that calls in wild crows to his pen at Dodge Nature center.
Every student was involved in building stories, sharing stories, and listening to stories. The room was buzzing with language development, creative expression and ideas, and a joyous connection to the written and spoken word. I look forward to continuing to deepen the students experience in language arts as we learn together the power of Story Workshop. I will make a bulletin board where the work that comes from this is displayed.
– Marshall Anderson, kindergarten teacher