As Glover students listened raptly to Native American storyteller James Bruchac, he explained how hearing stories can lead them to do their own creating and exploring. “Many of the stories I’ll tell you today are stories that really inspired me and made me want to write and share,” said Bruchac. “They also inspired me to want to go into the woods and learn about those same animals that are in the stories. And whether the story is true or not, if it has true lessons, that’s what matters.”
He went on to enthrall the students with animal lesson stories and pourquoi, or “why” stories like How Chipmunk Got His Stripes. Bruchac also wove science into the presentation by sharing plaster casts of animal tracks and the “real stories” of animals in the forest. The last time Bruchac visited Glover, his visit consisted of only an hour-long assembly. But thanks to a Friends of the Marblehead Public Schools (FMPS) grant, this year the creativity continued to flow: following the assembly, Bruchac led two days of writing workshops in the second and third grade classrooms, and students created their own legends.
Kira Kay, Glover Enrichment Committee Chair, explained, “We’ve enjoyed having James Bruchac here before, but the Enrichment Committee wanted to expand the program to carry the lessons learned into the classroom. We approached the principal and teachers to be sure that the story-writing workshop supported the curriculum, and we applied for and received a grant from FMPS. We’re so grateful to FMPS and the community donors for the grant. We’ve heard so many stories from these presenters about how an artist or storyteller inspired them when they were young: you just light a fire, and it’s going to spark creativity.”
Bruchac, the author of dozens of books including How Chipmunk Got His Stripes, The Girl Who Helped Thunder and a collection of guides to identify animal tracks and signs, has shared his storytelling magic across the country. He agrees that the progression from a storytelling presentation to a two-day writing workshop is the perfect opportunity for capturing the students’ enthusiasm and using it to fuel their own creativity. “The stories are powerful: the kids take inspiration from Native American culture, the language of legends, and the natural world. Now they’ll use this inspiration to create their own legends combing writing, visual arts, and better cultural understanding.”
“James Bruchac has been a staple of Glover School enrichment for the last several years. He is an expert storyteller and has a good rapport with students. He engages students as audience members and encourages them to think like authors,” explained Glover second grade teacher Maggie Doben. “This year, the two-day residency was a bonus because children were able to understand more about the story-making process and participate in group writing activities. The second graders felt proud of their work and enjoyed taking home copies of their pourquoi stories. Later in the year, second grade will study pourquoi and this will have set the stage for that component of our curriculum.”
Read the wonderful story written by the 2nd graders!
FMPS article written by Michelle Abrams