Friday, June 7, 2013

Story-based class at elementary school

After reading a story, Ketchup on your Corn flakes? in some of my classes at an elementary school, I started wondering how I can integrate lots of activities that stimulate interactions among students and shared reading activities. Based on my experiences and some literature, I have become a believer of impact of narratives and the power of shared reading. But I also hypothesize that only shared reading might not be able to attract students' full attention. I saw some sleepy faces and yawning if the book lasts more than 5 pages. That's how short their attention span is. Kids got more stimulating activities such as online games, movies and so on. Simple activities such as reading don't give them instant stimulation in spite of all the imaginative and creative stimulation you can get once you are completely engaged in the world of narratives. Reading requires bit of patience and practice in order to feel the absolute freedom to play in the world. Once you get the grip of how you can free your mind on the pages, you can be addicted to it for sure, however, like everything else, you gotta experience the magic on your own. Those kids, who had no enjoyable shared reading experiences with their parents or care takers, have no patience nor stamina to wait for the magic take place in their hearts. And only in the area, I might be able to give my hands to kids. Via introducing some books they can be engaged and having fun time in sharing the story, I might be able to create the similar bed time experiences that I and my daughter got as babies - The smoothing feelings and the excitement come along with the stories told by the caregiver, the guardian of your tiny life. It might be the warmth and the tender tone of her / his voice babies cling to first. Then, they can built the love of reading later. How powerful force it can be to make your kids bookworms or addicts for narratives in a positive sense. With this foundation based on love and trust, kids can freely fly in any worlds they may live.

I must thank my daughter for this realization and also being a light to guide me where to go in the midst of a tempest. I also thank my mum to give me a good nose of story hunters. Shared reading with my mum got me fall in love with picture stories and children's literature has been one of my favorites. I also had nothing but books to entertain myself when I was indoors during my childhood. Outdoors, I got the wild and thrilling nature beckoning me back then. I really appreciate her to provide such a wonderful environment.

It is impossible to create such a rich environment in classrooms but I would be extremely happy if I can share at least a bit of pleasure of shared reading with some kids. In my dictionary there is no word like "too late" especially when it comes to reading. You can fall in love with narratives anytime in your life according to Storytelling Animals since craving for stories is one of our very primitive instincts. Nothing  can take that from us. (Well, unless some extreme cases with physical or psychological damages.) This human tendency explains a lot for addictions for games. Games are animated stories that you can join and experience instantly. But they lack the magic, the freedom of mind. Readers can animate each character of a book as they like. I can't get such a freedom in movies and games due to the fixed images and sounds. Only in texts, you can get the absolute freedom. In the sense, storytelling or shared readings are also limited but such activities can be a great bridge between the  ready-made animated images and self-genarated images. When stories in your mind get colors, sounds and motions, you can be absorbed in the world endlessly and the pleasure is priceless. But it is hard to explain because you gotta experience that.

So, I think I can define my mission is to be a bridge between ready-made imagination and self-generated imagination. Hope I can be a solid one that doesn't fall down via sharing engaging stories with kids as we play lots of pre- and post-reading activities.

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