Jill Wells and Lorna Karetnyk
After an extremely interesting and few days in Denmark, we were totally converted to the idea of the Storyline method of teaching. We had received advice and support throughout the conference and now wanted to channel this renewed enthusiasm into our teaching when we returned to England. We must have talked non stop for four days about what we were going to do when we returned and how it was going to totally change our teaching lives. Well it did! We left Denmark Thursday evening and were in school teaching a Storyline line Friday morning – the Flower shop – just to see what would happen. The children loved it and so we planned the next Storyline more thoroughly and kept it within the strict, sometimes restrictive, English syllabus. We decided we would write a Storyline for the Christmas story. Both our classes were looking at different aspects of the Christmas but we planned and assessed together giving advice and encouragement along the way. It worked well and our Christmas Carol service was taken directly from our Storyline. This year we even volunteered to be in charge of the carol service, a first for both of us! No stress!
The friends we made in Denmark inspired us to keep going and we were able to share experiences with them. Todd and Cindy Stewart-Rinier from Portland had their children emailing our children about Christmas in their country and vice versa. Contacts established from a previous Comenius project also wrote us cards and emails and so the children experienced Christmas from USA, Sicily, Norway, Belgium and Switzerland.
Our children now know there is life outside Kirkbymoorside – a small town on the edge of the North Yorkshire moors – better known for its abundance of sheep than international links!
We have already given a presentation to the governors about Storyline and our experiences in Denmark (well some of them!) and we now plan to give a presentation to the staff. Our school is involved in a pilot scheme called ‘Enjoyment and Excellence’ in Primary schools looking at creativity in teaching and learning. Storyline is a very real way to achieve this and we hope to bring this method to the schools in our cluster.
We are now looking at how our school can move forward internationally and we have a few things in the pipeline. We hope to plan a visit to Portland funded by the TIPD (British Council) to look at how they teach Storyline. We also want to start a new Comenius project with our new contacts, Norway and Sweden all about teaching Storyline. We would like a third partner school in Iceland – anyone interested?
Lorna Karetnyk’s Experience
In the spring term our next Storyline was about Victorian life in Kirkbymoorside. We looked at the differences between people in 1841 and 1891 and the effect the coming of the railways had on their lives.
The children worked in pairs to create a character form each era. They used census information from our town and researched clothing to find out information about where the characters lived, what their occupations were and how they would dress, noting the changes in 50 years. What was fascinating for the children was that some of their characters had lived in the houses they were now living in.
The children researched transport in the Victorian era and held debates about the advantages and disadvantages of the coming of the railways. Through their characters, all children were able to empathise with the Victorian people and the issues they faced during this time of advanced technology.
Jill Wells’ Experience
Recently, I had the opportunity of taking a Year 3 class (7 and 8 year olds) for a week and decided, after looking at the schemes of work, that I would do a Storyline called the Travel Agency. This was an extremely rewarding week and the work the children did was unbelievable. The children had to create characters who were employees for the ‘Wells’ World Wide Travel Agency’. They had to persuade me, the manager, to accept their country as a destination for British tourists. This was a real international week. We had information e mailed and sent from Portland, USA; Stavanger, Norway; Modica, Sicily; Kristianstad, Sweden; Brugge Belgium and Zurich, Switzerland. The children in these schools wrote something about their town or country and also a list of names so my children could choose a ‘real life’ European or American name for their character. At the end of the week the countries had to present their information to me and my assistant manager (the head teacher!) and try and persuade us their country was suitable as a destination for British tourists. Obviously each group was accepted and received a certificate in assembly to acknowledge this. Next week we’re going to email all the countries and thank them for their help. The photographs show the characters and the display.
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