Thursday, February 6, 2020

Tweet Your Tale: An Interactive Storytelling Activity


A Perch of Birds
by
Hector Giacomelli, 1880

A few days ago I was reading a news item about the Super Bowl game. It pictured Derrick Nnadione of the Kansas City Chiefs laying down in the middle of the football field, creating a snow angel with the mounds of confetti strewn on the field. As I read further, I learned that there was something remarkable about the confetti, mixed in were tweets from the Chief’s fans, each one telling a tiny story of what the team and the season meant to them.

I began to think about the stories my students are telling. I am always searching for new worksheets and activities to help them break down their story, internalize it, and make it their own. Of course, I use the traditional storyboard and also different versions of my own invention. Now I began to think about tweeting. How could I use that in my storytelling class? Twitter has now increased the length of a tweet from 140 characters to 280 characters but could it be done? Even though my students are not old enough to have a Twitter account I was sure they were familiar with the social media tool and decided to give it a try.

I designed the worksheet below, Tweet Your Tale ©, to help them think about their story in a new way. I shared an example to illustrate how it can be done, and since they are familiar with Little Red Riding Hood, I read this before they tried tweeting their own tale.

Little girl in your scarlet cape, take care in the woods with your basket of goodies. Grandmother needs her food and the wolf is at the door. Ears. Eyes. Teeth. Don’t be fooled by the disguise. Danger! Screams fill the air. The hero comes, the ax falls.  Rescued at last. Joyful!
(279 characters) 

Did they know what story I tweeted? All of their hands went up. Success! I also included it on the worksheet so they could refer back to the example when they were writing.





Yesterday we tried it for the first time in class. Many of students were familiar with Twitter. We talked about it, I shared my example, offered additional directions on being succinct with their word choices, passed out the worksheet, and then asked them to tweet their tale. I set aside 10 minutes for the exercise but it actually took 20-25 minutes for most of them, along with some gentle guidance along the way. As they wrote I checked in with each student to ensure they understood the directions. Some students struggled with breaking things down from full, grammatically correct sentences, which I secretly applauded, but I encouraged them to edit it down further.

When they were finished, I instructed them to crumple up their ‘tweets’ into a ball and position themselves around the room. They immediately knew what they were about to do; on the count of three I shouted, “Ready! Set! Tweet!” and the (birds) tweets sailed into the air! Controlled chaos and laughter ensued! As each student picked up the tweet closest to them, they were instructed to unravel it, and read it to themselves. By now they have heard each other’s stories multiple times so I called on volunteers, asked them to read it aloud, then guess who wrote it. If they could match the story to the teller then it was clear the tweet gave enough information to identify it. Everyone was successful.

The activity also offered another opportunity to exercise their public speaking skills within the group. We did this three times, crumpling up the tweets, sailing them across the room. They asked to do it again and again. It was a fun exercise that employed the knowledge of their stories, writing and editing skills, and of course, movement and play! It will definitely find a home in my new storytelling toolbox. 

Some examples from the student’s work:

Now That’s A Story! (This is actually a very long story. I was amazed she was able to edit it down to 279 characters.)
Pretty princess loves stories but heard too many. Bored. A test! Best storyteller will be new prince. Princes. Merchants. Knights. No one. One poor lad came. Told a story about his special pig. The princess laughed. Now that’s a story! King is mad. And they got married happily.
(Character Count 279)

Fox and Mole
Fox and mole are friends. Fox likes adventure. Mole likes to stay home. Fox finds rope, ties it. Decides to go to moon, convinces mole. Asks condor to fly to moon, tie rope to moon. They climb. Mole slips, condor catches, back to earth. Fox stays on moon; look up and see!
(Character Count 273)

Tailypo
A man stirs his stew. Creature falls down chimney. Man chops of his tail, eats it. Creature runs, comes back. Dogs chasing. Creature haunts. Roof. Side of home. Inside. Foot of bed. Give it back. Shakes tail out of him.
(Character Count 219)

The Tail Trade
Beaver and muskrat trade tails. Beaver does tail tricks. Muskrat is envious, wants tail back. Beaver slaps tail on water at muskrat. Scared! Leaves. Now beaver has a beautiful, flat, wide tail. Muskrat has a short, thin tale.
(Character Count 225) 

You will find more of my original worksheets and interactive storytelling games in my book, Story by Story: Creating a School Storytelling Troupe. You can also join me in my Story Play workshop at the Sharing the Fire conference in April, 2020. This link will give you all of the conference information. https://www.nestorytelling.org/conference-details/          

You are welcome to use the above worksheet, Tweet Your Tale©, in your personal work. If you would like a copy of the worksheet email me at storybug@aol.com and I will send you the .doc file. However, I request that attribution and copyright be maintained, and there is no publication in any other published work without my permission. Your professional integrity is appreciated! If you do use it please let me know how it worked for you and your students. Tweet! Tweet!


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Karen Chace 2020 ©

This blog post was researched and compiled by Karen Chace. Permission for private use is granted. Distribution, either electronically or on paper is prohibited without my expressed written permission. For permission please contact me at storybug@aol.com. Of course, if you wish to link to my blog via your website, blog, newsletter, Facebook page or Twitter please feel free to do so; I greatly appreciate your support and personal integrity.