What an incredible Fall for Story Tapestries!!!! – Written by Arianna Ross

What an incredible Fall for Story Tapestries!!!!  Over the last 4 months, we have completed 6 long term residencies and multiple family events in MD, DC and FL. All of the programs were supported by Story Tapestries artists, donors and grants written by the Story Tapestries’ team in collaboration with other organizations. If we wrote about all of them, than this blog would be incredibly long.

Untitled6Recently, we worked with all of Kent Island Elementary School‘s 2nd grade team. Without the Story Tapestries matching funds to support this work, it would not have happened. The PTA paid for a portion and they wrote a grant for another piece of the pie but that still was not enough. We appealed to our donors and raised enough money to spend 4 days with each classroom. It was a powerful experience for both the students, teachers, and the artist. All of the students wrote and presented a “Fractured Folk Tale” based on a story they had read. You may be thinking….WHAT is that? During this activity, students work in teams of 3 or 4 re-writing a familiar story like “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” became the “Gingerbread man who cried Candy Monster.” The teacher’s said that they observed during the work students who never shine, who never add their voice to a story, talking up a storm.

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At the top of December, we launched a new partnership with The Learning Alliance. In the past, we have always worked with their K-12 program but now, we have been tasked with guiding teachers and early childhood center directors on how to improve the way they use multi-sensory strategies with their 0-5 population. Furthermore, it was expected that we increase the parents’ ability to help their chid(ren) gain the skills to be successful in the future.

We recognized right away that we needed a team of experts on this job so we contracted Diane Macklin and Carrie Sue Avyar as well as myself, Arianna Ross. On Saturday December 5th, I, taught the first Saturday workshop, Harnessing the Power of the Arts: Teaching Literacy, to over 60 teachers from Indian River County. We used elements of storytelling, dance, drama, visual arts and writing to increase the teacher’s ability to develop their students’ emergent literacy understanding, cognitive power, fine and gross motor development as well as their knowledge of the core subjects.

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After the first activity, it was immediately clear that the adults in the room were hungry for more strategies to develop their students. They jumped right in to every activity, asking questions along the way and reflecting with their peers about how to improve their practice as educators. Besides giving the teachers a range of strategies, we found that there was an added success, a community of early childhood educators, who now knew each other at a deeper level, spoke the same language and wanted the same results for their children. One educator asked us if there was a way to receive more frequent support from The Learning Alliance and Story Tapestries.

 

Our goal was for the team to leave the workshop with activities to support purposeful play, help them meet their FL Gold Standards, and to develop their ability to ask open ended questions.   After reading the evaluations, we saw that our goals had been met… One educator left the workshop saying that now she is planning to incorporate children’s imagination into their learning by asking open ended questions. Another mentioned “I like reading, then acting out, illustrating and surmising what happens after the written word ends.” The overall response to the start of this pilot program was “GREAT workshop!!”
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