12/12/2013 - It's Elementary
Each week, I work with Nan Wilkinson’s 5th & 6th grade class at Arcadia Neighborhood Learning Center – Phoenix, AZ

Jennifer's Spirit
I haven’t blogged in a while, but then, something special happened today.

My colleague, storyteller Priscilla Howe, who also works with elementary school children, said in a post, she dislikes the phrase "measurable outcomes in the arts." I totally agree. So here’s my story for today.
When I got to the fifth and sixth grade class today I told the kids I needed help with a story. I told them I had set the alarm for this morning, but when the alarm went off, instead of waking me up, it sent me into a dream. The dream was about the alarm beeping, and I couldn’t find the button to turn it off. In the dream, I did everything I could think of to stop the beeping, including taking the clock apart, and even unplugging it. Nothing would stop the beeping. I told them that some of the students from the class were there, in my dream and tried to help me. It all made me very frustrated and eventually I woke up.
We began to discuss the emotions in the story, and how I might find a good ending. Nan, the teacher, suggested that one of the students could be Jennifer (a tiny wisp of a girl), and that she could yell at me to, “Wake up!” (Nan has been trying to get Jennifer to speak up in class.) We added that Jennifer would tell me, "I need you to come to class and tell a story." When I got to class, Jennifer greeted me and said, "Will you tell us a story?" And that was the end of the dream story. Jennifer had sat motionless and quiet durring all of this.
Then Nan suggested that we play with the “story cubes.” The story cubes we have are several large foam cubes of different colors in a big bin. Each colored cube has something different written on it: green for people; yellow for places; orange for objects and red for actions. We use them to craft stories. I asked who wanted to try it. Jennifer raised her hand.
Jennifer came to the front of the class and picked four cubes, one of each color. She rolled them onto the table, and then arranged the cubes with the phrases in this order: 
With some prompting, Jennifer asked other students to help her add more description to each phrase. Eventually, she was able to stand, facing the class, look at the cubes and tell this story:
Four students in Mrs. Wilkinson’s class were in the jungle. It was green and had many trees all around. They found a large trunk that was covered with gold hinges. It was this big (she showed us with her hands how big it was). It was too heavy for them to lift, so they pushed it to the sidewalk. They put a "for sale’" sign on it to try to sell it and make some money. They called out to people, "Trunk for sale. Trunk for sale!"
The second time, she said it much louder. The class all applauded.
On this day, Jennifer celebrated success. Not measurable by any common core standards. Not measurable by any government mandated list or rubric. But clearly visible and measurable by the rubric of Jennifer’s spirit!

©Mark Goldman 2013

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


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