What makes a good story?

Gavin tells his story to Sophia

By Mila Mathiau

The 8th-grade is taking part in a story-telling expedition with members of The Telling Room. The Telling Room is a non-profit writing center located in Portland, Maine. They think that kids are natural story-tellers and their goals are: to boost confidence, strengthen literacy skills, and provide real audiences by giving young adults a voice. Meghan Vigeant, Willy Ulbrich, and Sarah Price from The Telling Room are helping us tell our stories. Every Monday afternoon, we meet with them and do activities to help make our stories stronger. During the rest of the week, we have classes in public speaking with Mr. McPhail; and then in Mrs. Schmanska’s English class, we analyze stories from The Moth (themoth.org) to examine story elements and to define what we think makes a story worth telling.

Students do warm up exercises to loosen up before they practice speaking

On Mondays, Meghan has been teaching us how to tell a true story, how to find our own stories, how to tell what makes a good story, how to find our voice and build confidence to tell our story. She has also helped us to practice presentation skills, like good breathing, pronunciation, projecting our voice, and being confident in front of an audience. Several 8th-graders have chosen to share their stories with others outside of our class. Look for our presentation materials and recorded stories at the end-of-year Celebration of Learning on June 12.

Some learning targets we have for this expedition are: I can explain the importance of the story-telling tradition historically and globally. I can tell a personal narrative to develop real experiences and events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequence. I can use effective speaking techniques (eye conduct, volume, posture, pronunciation). At the end of our expedition, we are going to have a performance with invited guests to tell our stories in front of a live audience!

(Mathiau is a Grade 8 student at the St. George School.)

PHOTOS: Courtesy St. George School

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One thought on “What makes a good story?

  1. Carol Burnes

    What a wonderful piece on learning about storytelling, smoothly told!
    YOu are learning the solid basic stuff of storytelling, by the sounds.
    I hope you carry on with it and enjoy telling and listening
    the rest of your life!

    I am a storyteller/poet who teaches both to all ages, in the US ,England, Austraiia and New Zealand.
    This sounds like a great experience!


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