Here are two project recently carried out for local education authorities.  The Art of Telling and Story Raiders UK.  They can be facilitated by me or involve multiple storytellers depending on the project.  All storytellers involved will have full disclosure CRB checks.

 

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The Art of Telling

This project was first organised by Beyond the Border Festival in 2011/2012.  See my news page for more information.

The Art of Telling for secondary schools, is aimed at young people aged 12-15 (Years 8 and 10), it involves one class working over 4 sessions with a professional storyteller,  Using a range of techniques successfully developed in previous projects, I will help turn pupils into storytellers themselves. Each project will end with a ‘Storyteller’s Market’ at which participants have a chance to tell stories to an audience from the local community – this could be younger pupils from feeder school or older people; perhaps taking place in the school, or at a nearby community centre, junior school or library – and thus includes an outreach opportunity for the school.

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As well as helping to develop key skills in literacy, oral presentation and self-confidence in public speaking, the project will also set interested participants on a path towards further public storytelling opportunities.

The Art of Telling for junior schools.  I have carried out similar projects with pupils from years 5 and 6 with the stories being told to foundation, parents or community groups.

Here is a link to stories created by 4 schools in a project called Following the Ewenny. The stories, artwork and music was presented over two nights at Ewenny Priory Church for the Ewenny Festival.

 

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STORY RAIDERS UK!

 

'As soon as I heard of the idea of a 'Story Raid', I shivered. Imagine that - storytellers, parachuted into classrooms, spreading stories like wildfire. This is the sort of imaginative and energetic event that could be the spark to light the flame of creativity. It has the element of surprise and engagement that will transport children into other worlds. Storytelling is vital as a way of building the ability to enter and sustain an imaginative world, to provide the building blocks which are needed to create as well as the rhythms of memorable language. Every school needs to have their imaginations surprised by a Story Raid. How wonderful if we could spread this across the whole country!'

PIE CORBETT for Story Raiders UK

  

What is a story raid?

A story raid is when a team of professional storytellers comes into your school – seemingly without warning - and interrupts lessons to tell short stories. It appears unplanned and spontaneous, though actually there is a schedule, prepared with military precision, to ensure that every class is visited by every storyteller over the course of one high-energy day.

A raid can be used to stimulate endless follow-on creative work in writing, oral storytelling, art, drama and PSHE.

Story raiding is well established in Scandinavia and theNetherlandsbut new to theUK. 

 

What are the aims?

  • To generate excitement and create a ‘story buzz.’ Dozens of stories, hundreds of story ideas and lots of chatter at playtime.
  • To support language development and fluency by encouraging children to tell and re-tell stories, both in the classroom and in the playground with friends.
  • To enhance the future writing of children by giving them characters, settings, story motifs and structures.
  • To stimulate senses and fire imaginations, and to create an event that will be remembered for years to come.

2 raiders

Cat Weatherill & Francis Maxey, 2 of the Raiders

 

What happens during a Story Raid?

 

A team of storytellers will arrive unexpectedly at your school. The children should NOT be told about the forthcoming raid! Surprise is a vital element because it adds to the excitement, boosts energy levels and encourages the children to start talking about the strange events that have been happening to them.

Working singly, the storytellers will walk into classrooms and interrupt the lessons. There is a large amount of role-playing involved and the storytellers are in costume. The storyteller may appear confused or lost. They may behave strangely. This approach raises the ‘oddness’ of the event and stimulates the children’s imaginations, thereby giving them something they are eager to talk about at playtime!

After a little banter, the storytellers will offer to tell a quick story before they leave. Once they have told this story, they depart as swiftly as they came.

Over the course of the day/morning, each storyteller will visit every class once. A visit will take no more than 15 minutes. As you can imagine, this takes a great deal of planning. A ten-class school will have THIRTY story sessions in one day! We fit the sessions around your regular break and lunch times, but you will need to book us on a day when no classes are out eg swimming. We will e-mail you the schedule before the day of the raid and we guarantee we will stick to it, for sanity’s sake!

As the day progresses, the ‘feel’ of the raid changes. The highest impact is made in the morning when the children are taken completely by surprise. As the day goes on, as the children speak to each other and the classes receive a second visit, the surprise element is replaced by anticipation.  The school continues to buzz. Fresh excitement comes from wondering ‘Who on earth will come next?’ The storytellers are very different to each other, so there is always something new. They also tell different tales to each year group, so a huge number of stories and ideas will be generated in a very short space of time. And the raid will be remembered for weeks, months, years to come!

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q: What will the teachers have to do?

Teachers play a hugely important role in a story raid. In truth, the most creative work happens when the storyteller has LEFT the room! A story raid is essentially a dynamic, fun-filled way of firing the imagination. It can be used to stimulate follow-on work in creative writing, oral storytelling, art, drama and PSHE.

But on the day of the raid, the teacher’s role is actually VERY SIMPLE. After every surprise visit, there will be at least 15 minutes for the teacher to do what we call Recall & Record work. Basically this is just chatting with the class and writing down anything you think might come in useful later eg the names of story characters.

In the days following the raid, it’s entirely up to the teacher how much work they want to produce, and what form that might take.

FREE TEACHERS NOTES will be provided in advance of the raid. These comprehensive notes will give you plenty of ideas on how you can use the raid to generate lively creative writing.

The Raiders will also be in the staffroom at lunchtime and breaktime. Please feel free to ask us more!

 We will ask for plan of the school layout similar to this one  Map

Q: Will our school need a full day or half a day?

Schools with more than 7 classes will need a full day. Although the sessions are short, we need to schedule the raid so there is at least 15 minutes after each class visit for the teacher to lead the Recall & Record work. This means we cannot work right up to playtimes and lunch.

Seven sessions are possible in a morning, based on a 9.15 start with lunch at 12 and up to 30 minutes allowed for morning break.

Q: Will we need three storytellers for the number of classes we have?

Strangely enough, increasing the number of storytellers does not increase the number of sessions available. This is because of the 15 minute R & R time needed after each visit. One storyteller cannot immediately follow another.

Increasing the number of storytellers increases the number of VISITS each class will have. Each storyteller visits every class once. So in a full three-person raid, every class will have three visits. In a duo raid, they will have two. In a solo raid, they will have one.

Obviously, the more visits a class has, the more exciting the event becomes.

Q: Do the storytellers tell the same story to every class?

No. We feel it’s important to tell age appropriate stories, so different classes will be told different tales. This also means the children can swap and share what they have heard with children from other years.

Q: We have a SEN unit. Can these children be included?

Yes. Teachers have been amazed at how well SEN children respond to a raid. Suddenly their day is very different, but this usually has an overwhelmingly positive effect. They are stimulated and excited and often far more communicative than usual. Their desire to make sense of what is happening increases their use of language. Sometimes they will be keen to start painting a picture of the visitor. We always talk to the SEN teacher before the raid begins to find out what age level she feels would suit her class best.

Q: Will our Reception class find three visits too overwhelming?

No - Reception classes usually love three visits! We are all experienced storytellers, so we know exactly how to modify our approach to make little ones feel comfortable rather than bewildered. And the teacher, of course, will be there to lead the children’s emotional response. If she reacts with delight and enthusiasm – ‘Oh, we would LOVE to hear a story, wouldn’t we children?’ – the class will instantly relax and enjoy the interruption.

Q: Do you work with Nursery?

With Nursery, it depends on the size of the school. Whether there is time available in the schedule. If the Nursery is included, we usually tone down the ‘raid’ aspect of the visit and work more like regular storytellers. We like to include the Nursery where possible. Even if the schedule is tightly packed with all the other classes, we will try to find 10 minutes for a story time session from one of us.

Q: Are you CRB checked?

Yes. We also have individual public liability insurance through our union, British Actors Equity to £10 million.

© STORY RAIDERSUK

www.catweatherill.co.uk