11/7/2012 - It's Elementary
Each week, I work with Nan Wilkinson’s 5th & 6th grade class at Arcadia Neighborhood Learning Center – Phoenix, AZ

Learning Happens
I had not chosen a specific story or lesson plan for today. It just unfolded naturally.

Two students were slated to tell stories. Zach was first. He quietly came to the front and told Nan and I that he didn’t have the whole story ready. I asked if he could merely tell the class what the story was about (I learned this “sneaky” technique of encouragement from Doug Lipman). Zach proceeded to tell the story of his “Trip to Big Bear” when the family car was on a narrow mountain road and almost slipped off in the ice and snow. He did a great job of describing the events and his fear. In the appreciations, Violet said she appreciated the fact that he got up and told the story, even though he didn’t think he was ready. A triumph for Zach, and kudos to Violet for recognizing his courage and then acknowledging it!
Zoey then did an amazing job of telling her version of “Warm Fuzzies and Cold Pricklies.” The best part — She gave an example: “Your shoes are so nice, and their color matches your eyes.” Luke was sitting in front, and tried to be funny by saying, “Thank you.” Zoey gently said, “I wasn’t speaking directly to you.” Luke put his head down in a small display of embarrassment. Zoey then went to him, asked him to lift his head and look up at her. She looked into his eyes and then said, “They actually do match your eyes!” How brilliant that this twelve year-old could take that moment to adjust her process, make Luke feel good, and then go on with the story! I was truly stunned!
I asked, "What was Zoey's story about?"
In Zoey’s version of the story, it was a jealous sister who told her brother that, “If one gives or gets too many warm fuzzies, there will not be enough left in the world to go around. So he told a friend, and the friend told a friend, and so on, and very soon, no one was giving or getting warm fuzzies.” We discussed what the story could teach us. The kids offered these ideas, and we discussed the possible consequences of: jealousy, lying, rumors, blindly believing what you hear, making asumptions, internet scams, putting someone down, bullying, viral bullying and questioning everything. Davin summed up the lesson from the part of the story where everyone went back to giving warm fuzzies, “There’s always enough love to go around.” OK, time for a collective, “Aw.”
Zach’s story reminded me of one I heard Leo Buscaglia tell years ago that I call, Pig.
A woman was driving up a narrow mountain road, with just enough room for barely one car. A man came zooming around the next curve and leaned out of his window and yelled, “Pig!” The woman was incensed, angry and flustered. She yelled back at him, "Hog!" Then she drove around the next curve…and hit a pig!
More discussion ensued about making assumptions, believing the worst, and having self doubt.
Fort-five minutes of some great learning…all because of story.

©Mark Goldman 2012

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For more information contact Mark Goldman - 602-390-3858 - Mark@Storytellermark.com


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