Teaching high school students

Teaching high school students

Storytelling and the curriculum

All of my workshops and training align with the core educational standards (2012) and the New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island curriculum.  And I can custom a workshop to suit your needs.

It has taken a long time to create my workshops and the following documentation. DO NOT COPY, REDISTRIBUTE, CUT & PASTE any of it. If you would like PDFs of the following, or anything on my website, then please shoot me an email and I would be happy to oblige. It is illegal to steal/plagiarizer someone's work.

The Power of Words - a seven step, 60 minute workshop on how you can use the power of words to get your story across.

Fast Track to Storytelling - a nine step workshop that combines written exercises with physical participation. Lasts at least 90 minutes.

First Listen - a workshop that can be done in 60 minutes, but can be expanded for greater depth, which takes personal stories and shows how to develop and present them in a way that will spark engagement and empathy where you want it. Great for businesses and organizations as well as high school and college students.

Don’t Stop Storytelling - a deep workshop using mainly participatory exercises. Lasts at least 3 hours and can be expanded and used as a residency over several days or weeks.

Suggestions for New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island State Curriculum Frameworks

Broad Goals of Written and Oral Communication
1. Habit of Writing, W-3, 10 and 11

Researching stories to tell (historical, social, personal, folk or fairy tales) then leads to a “re-telling” of the story in the students own voice (vocabulary). Once the story is re-written, performing the tale helps discover where information might be missing (confused listeners), where a point of view can be strengthened, or a character developed. Afterwards, re-writing the story using the information gained makes it flow better, and gives the story more depth and understanding. During this process, students make and support analytical judgments which they came to during the process.

2. Structures of Language, W-1
Sentence structure can be understood quickly when speaking out loud. Things sound right, or wrong. Whilst reading written work out loud or telling a story, if the words are not in the right order, the tongue trips. Incomplete sentences don’t (usually) work, and run on sentences simply lose the listener as the person goes on and on and on... By going over the story both in written form and spoken form, the story gains more detail and structure where needed. Learning the structure of language becomes practical and obvious when working between the written and spoken word.

3. Writing in Response to Literary or Informational Test, W-2
Once a student has found a piece to work on, be it historical, personal, social etc., they will be able to study the work and define cultural references from within the texts. When using folk tales, comparisons can be made between cultures because many folk tales have variants from different countries, and even regions. When students re-write in their own voice, pictures can be used to get the idea down, or to augment a final presentation to illustrate a point, or the entire tale. Using comic panels is a great way to allow students to be able to sequence a story and confirm all the information needed is there. This also distills the information to what really counts and is needed. Comparing stories from differing regions of the world allows the student to explore different geographical regions, and ecosystems, defining the flora and fauna - all adding to the context of the story.

4. Creating a Story Line, W-4
Researching folk, historical and even personal tales allows a student to work up their own story lines. Experimenting with where the beginning of a story is, and whether it would work better (have more impact or power) if a tale is started at the end, or the middle, shows how a story line can be altered to its benefit. Does a plot make sense to the listeners, or readers?

5. Oral Communication Strategies, OC-1 and 2
Using different skills that have been used for millennia with storytelling, techniques of delivery are discussed and experimented with. This allows students with different aptitudes and manners to play with different delivery techniques to find one with which they feel comfortable. It also enables students to effectively deliver the end product. In this digital age, presentations can also include digital storytelling as well as other more traditional forms which can include incorporating art and props, although the main focus would be on using the body and face to compliment the presentation. Throughout longer workshops (a day or more) I collaborate with teachers so the students can work and rework their stories multiple times by trying them out verbally with classmates. Storytelling is inclusive and I have students collaborate with each other and ensure they respect each other, and each others work. By sharing their work-in-progress and receiving positive feedback from others in a safe environment, students can find where their stories, their work, needs strengthening and why some parts work so well. By repeatedly working from written word to spoken word, the students gain confidence and experiment with words they might not normally use. Working with peers they can discuss differing ideas, identify choices and solve problems together. Expanding presentation skills can include using a microphone. This will allow confidence to grow, and teach mic control rather than letting the mic control you. We can also look at when you might need one.

Broad Goals of Reading
Vocabulary, R-2, 3, and 7

By experimenting with different words and listening to others reading their work, words can be ‘unlocked’ using cues and context tools. By exploring, we can find other words and/or meanings. This encourages a breadth of vocabulary. We research multiple stories, obtaining information from text features. Once a story has been chosen it can be mapped, and in the learning process of a story, paraphrasing and summarizing will be used.


Other topics which can be taught (also meeting the core standards), include emphasis on different words, which can create very different meanings. We look at how a personal story can show empathy and how a folk tale, couched in the right way can also allow empathy in a listener and how this effects relationships with other people. Workshops all touch on, and can go into depth with global economy and society, leading to a deep conceptual understanding of different cultures. We look at nuances of language (personally I love the nuances of the English language and how you can play with it so much) and the relationship between stories, poetry and drama and how all of it can be used to create a powerful story. By writing, performing and re-writing and performing again there is a staircase of increasing complexity leading to greater development and understanding. And all these skills can be and should be used in other disciplines.

Copyright Simon Brooks, 2017 ©