We are enamored with Story Workshop, a process that we have adopted after visiting the Opal School in Portland, Oregon. It reminds us of the writing process we use at Sabot but involves all languages of expression not just writing.
J, N and L shared a story involving a dragon, a cave, a bear and a black cat. There was contagion. Everyone wanted to be involved in the story.
Several students attached their characters to wooden sticks. The characters appeared to move and be alive. The use of puppets necessitated a backdrop or a place for the story to take place.
The group shared the story using puppets and the setting.
The audience responded with their thoughts and questions.
The audience revealed to the storytellers the parts of the story that remained confusing and left questions unanswered.
M: It was hard to see when people stand in front of the backdrop.
There was a discussion regarding the dragons. The children sequenced the plot but are revisiting characterization.
Who are the dragons? Are they good or bad?
It is difficult for some of the students that have made dragons to think of them as evil.
E: We could use all the dragons in our play and they would be friends and not poisonous.
T: I want them to be poisonous.
Eliz: It would be a short story if they weren't poisonous.
J: All the same colored dragons could be friends but not different colored ones.
TK: If some of them were poisonous and some werent' they wouldn't be hanging out with other cuz they would be afraid.
E: If they were friendly dragons they would not shoot fire at the boys.
What bubbled up during the children's discussion?
- Character definition (What do we know about the dragon?)
- Plot cohesion (If all of the dragons are nice who will shoot the boy with fire?)
- Need for climax (The story will be short if there is not a problem.)
- Cause and effect (If some of the dragons are mean and some are nice the nice dragons would be afraid.)
In the end, the original authors of the story felt strongly that some of the dragons needed to be fierce. The children collaboratively created an ending to the story that involves a group of friendly dragons saving the hero, the young boy.