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Learn about Story Telling

The Oral Tradtion, Bards, Ballads, Folk music, Folk Tales, Gossip and Myth used in the classroom.

Websites for Storytellers and Their Teachers

Find Story Telling School Projects

Incorporatiing Oral History into the K-12 Curricula
K-12 teachers throughout the United States have embraced oral history as a way of making classes more interesting, but they have largely approached this through two somewhat divergent means. By far the most dominant has been the effort to develop curricula that teach students how to conduct interviews. While there are some programs and organizations that have tried instead to incorporate existing oral histories into lessons, the latter is a much less utilized technique. In the first instance, relevant lesson plans are usually developed by individual teachers based on the intent of a class project, but in the second category, it has been more likely that curricula have been created by various oral history programs and archives and then provided to educators as a finished product that they can work into their current plans.

A good, intriguing narrative was important; it was a memorable way to share important information that could be passed from person to person, generation to generation. These stories often imparted important and occasionally life-sustaining information. No wonder we all love a good yarn.

Gullah and English Charleston,
South Carolina.


NEA Who knew porcupine quills could be so beautiful? Yvonne Walker Keshick brings a Native-American tradition into the 21st century.

Israeli pianist Astrith Baltsan presents and performs Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue with the Israel Philharmonic 2001 live broadcast


Kathryn Windham at the 2010 National Storytelling Festival



Storytelling and the Common Core Standards from the Youth, Educators and Storytellers Alliance June 2012

Storytelling and The Common Core Standards Grades 6 - 12 From the Youth, Educators and Storytellers Alliance July, 2013

Performance Literacy through Storytelling
Storytelling Accomplishes Common Core Standards Performance Literacy through Storytelling focuses on enhancing students' growth in the language arts and encompasses reading, writing, speaking & listening (Stanley and Dillingham, 2009). The following is a list of Common Core State Standards for language arts that are directly accomplished through exposure to storytelling opportunities (O'Brien, 2012)

[CCSS] Common Core State Standards

The Real Story about the Common Core State Standards

Money Talks, Money Legislates, Money Delivers Classroom Lessons
The Common Core State Standards exist because the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation wanted them. To help their aide-de-camps, the president and the U. S. Secretary of Education, pretend that these are state and not national standards, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation sent buckets of money to the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers to act as sponsors. More tons of money to the National PTA to spread the good word and so on. As I revealed in an article in Extra![ix] very few media have pointed to the money source. Of course very few media even bother to mention anything about the Common Core.

"Ways Storytelling can be used for Teaching-and-Learning"
The experience of storytelling activities has helped young people to improve their reading and writing scores.

Story Telling in Schools Storytelling belongs in every school around the world. Here's the beginning of the 1992 position statement on storytelling from the U.S. National Council of Teachers of English

Story Telling


The Power of Story - The Story Paradigm
In the field of co-intelligence, stories are more than dramas people tell or read. Story, as a pattern, is a powerful way of organizing and sharing individual experience and exploring and co-creating shared realites. It forms one of the underlying structures of reality, comprehensible and responsive to those who possess what we call narrative intelligence. Our psyches and cultures are filled with narrative fields of influence, or story fields, which shape the awareness and behavior of the individuals and collectives associated with them.
Story-reality is the reality that we see when we recognize that every person, every being, every thing has a story and contains stories -- and, in fact, is a story -- and that all of these stories interconnect, that we are, in fact, surrounded by stories, embedded in stories and made of stories. When poet Murial Rukeyser tells us "the universe is made of stories, not atoms," she's describing story-reality. Ultimately, story-reality includes any and all actual events and realities, but experienced as stories, not as the more usual patterns -- objects-and-actions; matter, energy, space, time; patterns of probability; etc. Story-reality is made up of lived stories.
Lived stories are those real-life, actual stories that are happening in the real world all around us all the time. The actual unfolding events relating to any one actual entity or subject comprise that entity's or subject's lived story. Everything that exists has, embodies and participates in many lived stories. The way to co-intelligently engage in story-reality is to become sensitive to lived stories... to learn about the lived stories of people, places, things... to share our own lived stories... to discover how all these stories intersect, who or what is in the foreground and background of each other's lived stories. Ultimately, this provides the guidance we need to find our own most meaningful place in the universal story.
While analysis is good for control and prediction, story-sensibility is good for understanding meaning and role.

2014 Five Hundred new Fairytales discovered in Germany
Collection of fairytales gathered by historian Franz Xaver von Schönwerth had been locked away in an archive in Regensburg for over 150 years. Von Schönwerth spent decades asking country folk, labourers and servants about local habits, traditions, customs and history, and putting down on paper what had only been passed on by word of mouth. In 1885, Jacob Grimm said this about him: "Nowhere in the whole of Germany is anyone collecting [folklore] so accurately, thoroughly and with such a sensitive ear." Grimm went so far as to tell King Maximilian II of Bavaria that the only person who could replace him in his and his brother's work was Von Schönwerth.

2012 The dying art of Navajo sheep shearing
Arnold Clifford is keeping alive the dying Navajo skill of sheep shearing. The farmer, who lives on a reservation in the US state of Arizona, continues to shear without electric clippers. Wool and meat from Churro sheep have sustained the Navajo for centuries. And Clifford, who is also a botanist and teacher, says the animal has been granted mythical status as a result. He is trying to keep the shearing skills he learned from his elders alive. By donating his wool to weavers he is also helping that ancient Navajo tradition thrive today.

The 22 rules of storytelling, according to Pixar

On Twitter, Pixar storyboard artist Emma Coats has compiled nuggets of narrative wisdom she's received working for the animation studio over the years. It's some sage stuff, although there's nothing here about defending yourself from your childhood toys when they inevitably come to life with murder in their hearts. A truly glaring omission.

  • The ArcGIS for Schools Bundle is available at no cost for instructional use to individual US K-12 schools, school districts, and states direct from Esri. Beyond the United States, the bundle is available to schools worldwide through Esri's network of international distributors. Every public, private, home school, and youth-serving club is eligible.
  • Social studies Misconceptions: Where do you live?

  • John Nelson designed this story map is based on an excerpt from a paper published in the 1990s by Central Michigan University geographers (John's Dad) Burton D. Nelson, Robert H. Aron, and Mark A. Franck. The paper outlines common misconceptions of U.S. students in an introductory physical geography class. U.S. students underestimate how far north Europe extends many Americans don't know that Minneapolis, Minnesota sits at the roughly same latitudinal line of Venice, Italy. Nelson's story map includes helpful visuals that debunk these common geographic misconceptions, along with possible explanations as to why these misconceptions have become so widespread. @John_M_Nelson




In Old English, gossip - or god-sibb - originally meant a person related to one in God, specifically referring to a woman's close female friends at the birth of a child (those she would choose to be godparents to her child, her 'god-sisters', if you like). The word later came to mean more generally a close (female) friend or companion, and then the kind of talk characteristic of intimate friends, i.e. chatty talk about the details of personal matters and relationships, the sharing of secrets - more or less what we currently mean by gossip.

Life Lessons Learned by hearing the stories. All of history is one long story. History is nothing more than story telling.


In Politics


The late LA Gov. Earl Long rule:

"Don't write what you can say,

Don't say what you can nod,

Don't nod what you can wink."

Meaning, as per Uncle Earl's first line, [YOU are] happy to tell the stories face to face as [YOU] heard them.

Have You Heard? Gossip Turns Out to Serve a Purpose By Benedict Carey 8/16/05

  • Gossip should be central to any study of group interaction. Gossiping is a protective group function.
  • Sarah Wert: "Not participating in gossip at some level can be unhealthy, and abnormal." Adept gossipers usually sense which kinds of discreet talk are most likely to win acceptance from a particular group.
  • People find it irresistible for good reason: Gossip not only helps clarify and enforce the rules that keep people working well together, but it circulates crucial information about the behavior of others that cannot be published in an office manual. As often as it sullies reputations, psychologists say, gossip offers a foothold for newcomers in a group and a safety net for group members who feel in danger of falling out.
  • David Sloan Wilson says: "There has been a tendency to denigrate gossip as sloppy and unreliable" and unworthy of serious study "But gossip appears to be a very sophisticated, multifunctional interaction which is important in policing behaviors in a group and defining group membership."
  • The content and frequency of gossip are universal.
  • Social scientists find this grapevine branches out through almost every social group and it functions, in part, to keep people from straying too far outside the group's written and unwritten rules.
  • Failure to gossip can put the group at risk. in this context there may be an expectation that you should gossip: you're obligated to tell, like an informal version of the honor code at military academies.
  • Anthropologist Kevin Kniffin: gossip levels peaked when the team included a slacker. When he left "There was very little negative gossip."
  • Healthy gossip has evolved to protect social groups, it will also ultimately expose many of those who cheat and betray.
    Any particularly nasty gossip has an author or authors and a functioning gossip network builds up a memory. People can mask devious intentions, spread false rumors and manipulate others for years but also get turned into the network.
  • 2015 Why Gawker, and gossip, are good

Video yourself telling your story and put it up online.

"A rumor is what you do when you try to figure out the truth with other people," DiFonzo says. "It's collective sense making. The classic example is 'I heard that…'"

Gossip, on the other hand, is sharing information with an agenda, he says. It could be for entertainment or to bond with another person or to reinforce a social norm. Gossip, which may be true, tends to have an edge.
"Gossip is more to do with social networks," DiFonzo says. "A strong motivation we have as humans is to connect with a group." [1]

Kate Fox: Evolution, Alienation and Gossip
Executive Summary: Gossip is not a trivial pastime: it is essential to human social, psychological and even physical well-being. The mobile phone, by facilitating therapeutic gossip in an alienating and fragmented modern world, has become a vital 'social lifeline', helping us to re-create the more natural communication patterns of pre-industrial times.
Key findings: Mobile gossip is good for us
Gossip is the human equivalent of 'social grooming' among primates, which has been shown to stimulate production of endorphins, relieving stress and boosting the immune system. Two-thirds of all human conversation is gossip, because this 'vocal grooming' is essential to our social, psychological and physical well-being. Mobiles facilitate gossip. Mobiles have increased and enhanced this vital therapeutic activity, by allowing us to gossip 'anytime, anyplace, anywhere' and to text as well as talk. Mobile gossip is an effective and important new stress-buster.
Mobile phones are the new garden fence
The space-age technology of mobile phones has allowed us to return to the more natural and humane communication patterns of pre-industrial society, when we lived in small, stable communities, and enjoyed frequent 'grooming talk' with a tightly integrated social network. In the fast-paced modern world, we had become severely restricted in both the quantity and quality of communication with our social network. Mobile gossip restores our sense of connection and community, and provides an antidote to the pressures and alienation of modern life. Mobiles are a 'social lifeline' in a fragmented and isolating world.
Additional findings:
* Men gossip as much as women. The study found that men gossip at least as much as women, especially on their mobiles. Thirty-three percent of men indulge in mobile gossip every day or almost every day, compared with twenty-six percent of women. Men gossip for just as long and about the same subjects as women, but tend to talk more about themselves. The study did find a sex difference in 'gossip partners', with men more likely to gossip with work colleagues, partners and female friends, while women gossip more with same-sex friends and family. Male and female gossip also sounds different, as women use more animated tones, more detail and more feedback.
* Mobile as 'symbolic bodyguard'. Women use their mobile phones as 'symbolic bodyguards' when feeling vulnerable in public places - in the way that they used to use a newspaper of magazine as a 'barrier signal'.
* The joy of text. Texting is particularly important in maintaining contact with a wide social network - allows us to maintain social bonds even when we do not have the time, energy, inclination or budget for calls or visits. Texting re-creates the brief, frequent, spontaneous 'connections' with members of our social network that characterised the small communities of pre-industrial times.
* Teenage social skills. Texting helps teenagers (and some adult males) to overcome awkwardness and inhibitions and to develop social and communication skills - they communicate with more people, and more frequently, than they did before mobiles.
* Text as 'trailer'. Mobile gossip is enhanced by the use of the text message as a 'trailer', alerting friends to the fact that one is in possession of an interesting item of gossip, but saving the details for a phone call or meeting.
* Entertainment. Women are more skilled than men at making gossip entertaining - three factors are involved: highly animated tone, plenty of detail and enthusiastic 'feedback'.
* Risk-therapy. Enjoyment of gossip is also about the thrill of risk-taking, doing something a bit naughty, talking about people's 'private' lives - this is particularly important for the reserved and inhibited English, but all humans have inbuilt need for risk-taking.
* Benefits of negative gossip. Only about five per cent of gossip-time is devoted to criticism and negative evaluation of others - but this 'negative gossip' has clear social benefits in terms of rule-learning and social bonding.

The Official Story Tellers

World History Association
The biggest news from the Executive Council meeting was that, the WHA has joined with other world history organizations to form the Network of Global and World History Organizations (NOGWHISTO). This new network will allow the member societies to join the mega-international organization of CISH (Comite International des Sciences Historiques / International Committee of the Historical Sciences, [ENGLISH] which is part of UNESCO -- United Nations' Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. Being part of CISH will entitle the WHA and its members (as part of NOGWHISTO) to participate in the international meetings of CISH (meetings every 5
years) and have exposure to an international academic organization. The 2011 WHA Annual conference will be hosted by Beijing Normal University in China. Council of Affiliates

Plato warned that reading would be the downfall of the
Oral Tradition and memory.

Telling the story of U.S. History

Only 20% of American fourth graders, 17% of eighth graders, and 12% of high school seniors demonstrated proficiency in history on the National Assessment of Education Progress. Federal officials said they were encouraged by a slight increase in eighth-grade scores since the last history test in 2006; still, fewer than a third of eighth graders could answer even a "seemingly easy question" asking them to identify an important advantage American forces had over the British during the Revolution. The tests were given last spring to a representative sample of 7,000 fourth graders, 11,800 eighth graders, and 12,400 12th graders nationwide. History advocates argue that students' showing on the tests underlines neglect shown to the subject by federal and state policy makers since NCLB began requiring schools to raise scores in math and reading exclusively. "History is very much being shortchanged," said Linda Salvucci, a history professor and chairwoman-elect of the National Council for History Education. Many teacher-education programs compound the problem by encouraging aspiring teachers to seek certification in social studies, rather than in history, she said: "They think they'll be more versatile, that they can teach civics, government, whatever. But they're not prepared to teach history." (NYT) 2011


Understanding Charisma and Myth
Charisma and Myth. By Raphael Falco. 2010. London: Continuum. 224 pages. ISBN: 9780826433657 (hard cover).
Reviewed by Daniel Peretti, Indiana University
Raphael Falco's project in Charisma and Myth is "to explain how certain narratives and certain other forms of discourse are managed charismatically so that the groups sharing and experiencing those discourses are maintained as coherent social units over extended periods of time" (5), an area of intersection which has been unexamined. In Falco's analysis, charisma is transferred from an original, individual authority to a social structure with the aid of a charismatic myth.

In other words, the charisma of the individual must be transferred to institutions that can endure beyond the individual, and this is possible through the creation of a myth.

Myth thus makes charisma part of a group's quotidian existence and sustains the charismatic movement.
Charisma is the product of group interaction. Here, Falco follows the work of Max Weber. Charisma is what happens when people come together and are stirred toward the same sentiment or action. Furthermore, charisma is symbiotically and dialectically related to myth; the two develop together and support each other. For this to be so, according to Falco, the group's dynamic must exist in a state of mild entropy (he uses the phrase "dissipative structures"), whereby the myths -- which exist in a state of flux as they are reinterpreted by leaders -- are used to support the ongoing authority. This is an important facet of Falco's conception of myth because it informs the examples he uses throughout his book. For Falco, myth becomes an expression not of some sort of truth, but of adherence to charismatic authority. Groups cohere around that authority because of an emotional bond.
Myth has a political context that is of paramount importance to Falco. Folklorists, however, might wish that a more performance-centered perspective had been employed. Performance and charisma seem ideally suited to a joint venture in the understanding of how myth operates in group dynamics. For Falco, myth is a discursive instrument by which authority can be maintained because of its inherent adaptability. People can alter myths to fit new situations. There is much of value here, including a look at the processes of routinization -- how revolutionary ideals are transformed into a new status quo. Falco is downright folkloristic in his commitment to the constant state of flux in which myth must exist as a living phenomenon.


Living Intelligence System How intelligence community integrates wikis, Google's Living Stories project into spook workflow.
Video explanation and software demo of the Living Intelligence System. This project is a proposal, soon up for a funding debate, to re-energize the struggling analytic transformation movement with the United States Intelligence Community by bringing E 2.0 processes into official not informal channels. More simply, to build upon were Intellipedia and A-Space left gaps. Part of the software builds upon Google's Living Stories experiment with the New York Times and Washington Post.

Wikileaks is necessary for the nation when newspapers and other media won't investigate or report the information.



MUSIC is The Soundtrack of Humanity
Music is the Soundtrack of Culture
Music used to help us REMEMBER THE STORY

Roger McGuinn spoke with author J.D. Lasica about the Folk Den, a Web site devoted to continuing the folk tradition of storytelling, which he says is in danger of being obliterated by commercial interests.

Children's oral history - playground rhymes found in newspapers

"Plea for the Old Ballads" [1914 Sep 18 "far superior to the Present Day Lyrics"]. "Put a volume of fine old ballads on the piano and begin you child's education not only in song but romance."

America's Highway: Oral Histories of Route 66 Jay Crim and Shekar Davarya spent the summer of 2002 driving across the country on Route 66, collecting interviews with the people who live, work and travel on the old road.



About Irish Bards - Such rhymes were not to be patronized by the Anglo-Normans, in the Statute of 1367.
Irish Bards Bonwick Druids

Antiquity of Irish Music - From The Dublin Penny Journal, Volume 1, Number 42, April 13, 1833.

'Ted Hughes and the British Bardic Tradition'. The British Bardic tradition is extremely old. The earliest historical records of it were made by the Romans who invaded Britain just over 2000 years ago, but the British Celtic culture which they describe, and within which the Bards assumed great importance, was at that time already ancient. Some reflections on a Poet Laureate's training, its Celtic origins and the traditional role of the bard.

Welsh bards called themselves Cerddorion (sons of Cerridwen). The bard Taliesin, founder of their craft, was said to be born of Cerridwen and to have tasted a potent from her magick cauldron of inspiration.

Power of Print, Ballads, & Literacy The Story of Welsh - Reading the Word In 1718 the first book to be printed on a permanent printing press in Wales was a ballad about smoking.



May Justus released recordings of her ballad singing.
If you like ballads, mountain activists, Civil Rights history, and K12 school teachers who aren't afraid then I strongly recommend you check out the article and the recording. Carawan, presumably, saw in Justus a musicologist's jewel, a rare find: she was a living practitioner of an oral tradition, a repository of songs that had been shared over many generations. The ballads Justus absorbed from her parents were studded with rich cultural detail, but their words were rarely written down, and evidence of the tradition could disappear with the passing of its practitioners. “There's a lot of good music produced in this part of this world, through the meeting of the British and African traditions,” Cantrell says. “The old style of ballad singing is not particularly commercial. So any opportunity to preserve [the songs] is important, and that's why we did this.”
A Smoky Mountain native, devoted teacher of Appalachian children, and author of more than sixty books for children, May Justus lived just over a hill from the Highlander Folk School, the famous East Tennessee institution that fought trumped-up charges of Communist affiliation by state legislators during the first stirrings of the civil-rights movement. (As a result, state officials ultimately confiscated the school's library—which Justus helped create—and forced it to relocate from Grundy County to its current location outside Knoxville.) “People would drive by and annoy the folks at Highlander,” says Brent Cantrell, executive director of Jubilee Community Arts, an Appalachian cultural center in Knoxville. “May had a little house with a porch near the entrance of the Center, and she would chase off with a shotgun anyone trying to bother the students.”
Justus was not only the school's neighbor and watchdog; she was also its secretary-treasurer and a supporter from its inception, having taught at the Summerfield School from which Highlander evolved. She was also a beloved, iconic, community figure, deeply rooted in East Tennessee, where she taught countless children to read.


"I guess you think you know this story.
You don't. The real one's much more gory.
The phoney one, the one you know
Was cooked up years and years ago,
And made to sound all soft and sappy
Just to keep the children happy." -"Cinderella," by Roald Dahl

Fairy tales can never be completely separated from their darker origins. The origins of stories that were, in their earliest forms, only related at adult gatherings after children had been put to bed for the night. Of course folklorists have known this all along. Disney's 20th century work of transform horrifying folk stories into genial animated musicals. By now most others assume the Disney version is the correct one. The contemporary idea of the fairy tale can be traced to 1812, when Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm published a collection of folk stories called Children's and Household Tales—now much more commonly known as Grimm's Fairy Tales. the Grimms' primary contribution to fairy tales was making them tamer. As author and scholar Maria Tartar notes in her seminal book, The Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales:

Wilhelm Grimm rewrote the tales so extensively and went so far in the direction of eliminating off-color episodes that he can be credited with sanitizing folktales and thereby paving the way for the process that made them acceptable children's literature in all cultures.

8.8.13 500 New fairytales discovered in Germany Collection of fairytales gathered by historian Franz Xaver von Schönwerth had been locked away in an archive in Regensburg for over 150 years.


The Turnip Princess
The Key to a Beautiful Wife: Turnips

A young prince lost his way in the forest and came to a cave. He passed the night there, and when he awoke there stood next to him an old woman with a bear and a dog. The old witch seemed very beautiful and wished that the prince would stay with her and marry her. He could not endure her, yet could not leave that place.

One day, the bear was alone with him and spoke to the prince: "Pull the rusty nail from the wall, so that I shall be delivered, and place it beneath a turnip in the field, and in this way you shall have a beautiful wife." The prince seized the nail so strongly that the cave shook and the nail cracked loudly like a clap of thunder. Behind him a bear stood up from the ground like a man, bearded and with a crown on his head.

"Now I shall find a beautiful maiden," cried the prince and went forth nimbly. He came to a field of turnips and was about to place the nail beneath one of them when there appeared above him a monster, so that he dropped the nail, pricked his finger on a hedge and bled until he fell down senseless. When he awoke he saw that he was elsewhere and that he had long slumbered, for his smooth chin was now frizzy with a blond beard.

He arose and set off across field and forest and searched through every turnip field but nowhere found what he was looking for. Day passed and night, too, and one evening, he sat down on a ridge beneath a bush, a flowering blackthorn with red blossoms on one branch. He broke off the branch, and because there was before him, amongst the other things on the ground, a large, white turnip, he stuck the blackthorn branch into the turnip and fell asleep.

When he awoke on the morrow, the turnip beside him looked like a large, open shell in which lay the nail, and the wall of the turnip resembled a nut-shell, whose kernel seemed to shape his picture. He saw there the little foot, the thin hand, the whole body, even the fine hair so delicately imprinted, just as the most beautiful girl would have.

The prince stood up and began his search, and came at last to the old cave in the forest, but no one was there. He took out the nail and struck it into the wall of the cave, and at once the old woman and the bear were also there. "Tell me, for you know for certain," snarled the prince fiercely at the old woman, "where have you put the beautiful girl from the parlour?" The old woman giggled to hear this: "You have me, so why do you scorn me?"

The bear nodded, too, and looked for the nail in the wall. "You are honest, to be sure," said the prince, "but I shall not be the old woman's fool again." "Just pull out the nail," growled the bear. The prince reached for it and pulled it half out, looked about him and saw the bear as already half man, and the odious old woman almost as a beautiful and kind girl. Thereupon he drew out the nail entirely and flew into her arms for she had been delivered from the spell laid upon her and the nail burnt up like fire, and the young bridal pair travelled with his father, the king, to his kingdom.


In Gillies's History of Greece, we are told that "the scattered fragments of Grecian History were preserved during thirteen centuries by oral tradition." Bards did the same service for Roman history till the second century before Christ. "The Dschungariade of the Calmucks," the learned Heeren writes, "is said to surpass the poems of Homer in length, as much as it stands beneath them in merit; and yet it exists only in the memory of a people which is not unacquainted with writing. "BUT THE SONGS OF THE NATION [WAR SONGS] are probably the last things which are committed to writing, for the very reason that they are remembered"

Funeral Cry

From the Bard who knew songs with 2500 verses down through time to the minstrals who knew maybe a hundred verses to end up being sung by the women who were paid to come to funerals and cry. The Jewish and the Irish cultures still carry on this practice today. Essentially the women criers (who are paid for their services) are the last vestige of a tradition that keeps the memory of those original 2500 verse ballad alive.


Chris Morganroth, a Quileute elder, tells traditional stories geared towards kids and families. Morganroth also gives an introduction to Quileute culture and discuss how the tribe is presented in the popular Twilight books and movies, which is also the topic of the traveling exhibition "Behind the Scenes: The Real Story of the Quileute Wolves." This performance was recorded in the museum's Rasmuson Theater on January 15, 2012.


Esther Martinez Act: Native-languages bill becomes law 2006

Esther Martinez, of Ohkay Owingeh, N.M., received her 2006 NEA National Heritage Fellowship award from National Endowment for the Arts. Martinez, 94, taught her native language at schools in Ohkay Owingeh, formerly known as San Juan Pueblo. She also helped translate the New Testament of the Bible into Tewa and compiled Tewa dictionaries for various pueblos, which have distinct dialects of the language - LINGUISTICS.
President Bush has signed into law legislation named after an Ohkay Owingeh storyteller and linguist. It will establish grants for governments, colleges and other Indian educational organizations working to preserve native cultures and language.The bill authorizes competitive grants through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to establish Native language programs for students under the age of 7 and their families.
The bill aims to help preserve indigenous languages that are still being spoken, increase sup­port for language-immersion programs to create fluent speakers and allow tribes and pueblos to develop their own immersion programs. New Mexico is home to 19 pueblos and three tribes; there are six major languages and various dialects. Wilson said language is a key element of each community's identity. Experts estimate that only about 20 of more than 300 precolonial indigenous languages will remain by the year 2050.

Traditionally, memory-aiding symbols and pictures were inscribed on birch bark to preserve the stories and songs, because the Ojibwe had no written language.
Ojibwe Scrolls Come Full Circle
December 11, 2006 Star Tribune By Larry Oakes, Star Tribune

The sacred scrolls took a 275-year journey from a medicine lodge to a doctor then to his grandson in Kentucky -- who came to realize he was their guardian, not their owner.
TOWER, MINN. - For those who believe in spiritual forces, the story of the sacred scrolls of the Bois Forte Chippewa offers a wonderful affirmation. For those who believe we walk alone, the story offers an amazing coincidence. In September, members of the northern Minnesota tribe gathered at Spirit Island on Nett Lake for a ceremony. There, according to witnesses, a drumkeeper named Shane Drift recounted his recent dream that forgotten stories and songs of the tribe would somehow "come back to us." About two weeks later, in early October, the phone rang at the new Bois Forte Heritage Center and Cultural Museum, next to Fortune Bay Casino. The caller was Raymond Cloutier, a physician in Bowling Green, Ky. Cloutier said that hanging in glass cases on the walls of his study were 42 birch bark scrolls inscribed with symbols and pictures. Cloutier said the scrolls had come with a letter saying that some of the scrolls were more than 200 years old, and all originated "at Nett Lake on the Bois Forte Reservation."

Birch Bark was also used to make clothesThe letter -- a report from a historical society that had sought interpretation from Ojibwe medicine men -- said the scrolls depicted ceremonial songs "concerning the most fundamental laws and needs of the [Ojibwe] people." Cloutier told the astounded museum curator, Bill Latady, that he had cherished the scrolls for decades, but he had come to believe they belonged with the tribe. Last week the band announced that the scrolls are back at Bois Forte, in a climate-controlled museum room, after untold decades away.
A group of elders has confirmed that they are long-lost records of the Bois Forte lodge of the Midewiwin, or Grand Medicine Society, a selective Ojibwe religious order that preserved its rites on birch bark and was driven underground for most of the 20th century, when Indian religions were outlawed by the U.S. government. "Spiritually, this is probably the most important thing that has ever happened [to the tribe]," said Rose Berens, the tribe's preservation officer. "I was awestruck."
The Bois Forte Reservation is largely in Koochiching County in far northern Minnesota. The band's elders decided the scrolls cannot be photographed, or even seen, by anyone who doesn't belong to the religious order, except for curator Latady. Berens says that even she has not seen them, and won't until she is initiated into the order next spring in a ceremony on the Red Lake reservation.
Mysterious journey
Cloutier said his grandfather, Dr. Herbert Burns, acquired the scrolls when he was superintendent of Ah-Gwah-Ching tuberculosis sanatorium near Walker, Minn., in the early 1900s. Bois Forte leaders speculate that poverty-stricken ancestors might have bartered them for treatment.
Cloutier isn't so sure. He said Burns was a "Renaissance man" with many interests and collections, including a trove of Indian artifacts, most of which eventually went to a museum in Walker. Cloutier suspects his grandfather bought the scrolls and the authentication letter accompanying them, probably from another non-Indian.
A few years after Burns died in 1949, the scrolls, packed in cardboard drums, went to Cloutier, then only about 12. The scrolls range from 9 by 3 inches to 6 by 2 feet, according to Latady. The drawings are on the brown side of the bark, some drawn with charcoal and others applied with red paint. Some images are carved, he said.

Out of respect to the band's wishes, neither Latady nor Cloutier would describe the drawings, but experts who have studied similar scrolls say they most often contain "mnemonic," or memory-aiding symbols, to recall songs among a people with no written language. "

The coming of the gods is portrayed bestowing creation of men and other creatures upon the land and in the waters of the earth," says the Bois Forte scrolls' accompanying report, written in the 1930s by the Becker County Historical Society. "The heralds of these gods, half land and half water spirits, serve the gods as ambassadors. ... Another song relates how the gods give the Indians the privilege of for the first time eating meat."
From owner to guardian
Cloutier said that in the 1990s he became aware of a law requiring institutions that get federal funds to return sacred artifacts to Indian tribes. The law didn't apply to him, but he said a nagging idea grew in him: "The people the scrolls came from were not some dead Indians from a dead culture; they were still there, and they may have been suffering somewhat for having lost part of their culture. About the time I realized this, I stopped being an owner and became a guardian."
He found the Bois Forte band's website, saw that a museum had opened in 2002, and decided to return the scrolls. His only stipulation was that the band retrieve them; he didn't want to risk shipping them.
A few days after hearing from Cloutier, Berens, spiritual adviser Vernon Adams and Bois Forte elders Myra Thompson and Phyllis Boshey drove to Kentucky, dined with Cloutier and his wife, Joyce, and left with their precious cargo. "Once I got over the damage to my greed, it made perfect sense to return these things," Cloutier said. "Unfortunately, most of the time, these things were taken from their owners in ways that probably wouldn't make us proud today."
Tribal Chairman Kevin Leecy wrote to Cloutier that his "thoughtfulness is deeply appreciated by everyone ... from the elders who listened to the songs and stories in their youth to their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who will once again have that opportunity due to your generosity." Adams said he now wonders if the strange journey of the scrolls was fortunate. Similar scrolls were destroyed by missionaries and others during the century that the Midewiwin was outlawed. "To me, they took a path they were meant to take," Adams said. "They left, were preserved and now have come back. It's exciting to see. This is where our past meets the future."
About the Midewiwin
The Midewiwin, or Grand Medicine Society, practices the traditional religion of the Ojibwe Indians of northern Minnesota. The society seeks spiritual growth and bodily healing through prayers, songs and natural medicines. Elaborate creation stories and legends are memorized and handed down through generations by "mide" or shamans. Traditionally, memory-aiding symbols and pictures were inscribed on birch bark to preserve the stories and songs, because the Ojibwe had no written language. The society has a reputation for strict secrecy, no doubt reinforced when it was outlawed for almost 100 years and was driven underground. Many of the original birch bark scrolls were destroyed by missionaries who saw the Midewiwin as an obstacle to Christianizing the Ojibwe.

Best “talking stories” on the net


  • LibriVox: free audiobooks

    LibriVox volunteers record chapters of books in the public domain and release the audio files back onto the net. Our goal is to make all public domain books available as free audio books. Example L. Frank Baum Emerald City of Oz and all the others.
  • Publisher Winged Chariot first children's picture book on iPHONE. "The Surprise is the first of many creations on this platform, giving you fantastic and wonderfully drawn images, as well as fun animation and storytelling.">
  • PicPocket Books mobile phone picture books will entertain and educate your child in the car, plane, & train.
  • Starfall stories are engaging + recommend I'm Reading section for older students.
  • Literactive hundreds of talking stories and other interactive activities.
  • Childtopia has over a thousand great literacy activities in multiple languages, including English
  • Story Place from the Public Library in Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Woodlands School Interactive Stories
  • Scholastic's Clifford Activities

National Storytelling Network" of Storynet tells a story about Gollywhoppers' Eggs"
Ms. Schlosser (creator of certainly did not create the story. It goes back farther than she does. The version I know comes from MY FOLKS IN MAINE (Norway, ME: The Old Squire's Book Store, 1934), C.A. Stephens' memoirs of his Norway, Maine, ancestors. "Gollywhoppers' Eggs" is chapter 3, pp. 26-35. Stephens presents the story as part of the biography of his great-grandmother Elizabeth Stevens (sic), one of the original white settlers who founded the town of Norway after the Revolution. His telling is elaborate, and nicely woven into the history of the settlement and into other events (or legendary events?) in his great-grandmother's life.
I have no idea whether Stephens got the plot from an existing folktale or not. His memoir might be Schlosser's source (why not ask her?), though she retells the story from a different point of view and in much less artful detail.
I tell my adaptation of Stephens' story on my new CD, "Yankee Ingenuity," under the title "Wimble Betty" (nickname Stephens' ancestor was given after an outrageous interaction with a barrel of West Indian rum). Love the story.

ESL Language Learning Theory Second Language Acquisition

The Creative Educator
Gather round those roaring campfires, picnic tables, or even a fondue pot, because the ancient art of storytelling is being revived into an emerging communication mode called digital storytelling. The Art of Digital Storytelling: Part 1

Courage? Follow the Yellow Brick Road
By MICHAEL WINERIP Published: June 14, 2006
DIANA SENECHAL is a first-year teacher of immigrant students at I.S. 223, a middle school in Brooklyn, and maybe, if she'd been more experienced, she would have known better than to have her students perform "The Wizard of Oz" when they were so new to this country and spoke so little English.
They arrived at I.S. 223 talking 24 different languages and not knowing a soul. About the only thing they shared was a shyness of speaking English aloud.
Ms. Senechal figured, what better way to give them confidence than to have them sing and dance in an hour-and-a-half-long musical, for three performances at the end of the school year, in the big auditorium, before a thousand strangers?
Her students weren't so sure. As Shamsul Huda from Bangladesh, the Tin Man, said, "I'm scary to do it."
Rehearsals started in January, and it was slow going. Sergio Sanchez, from Mexico, the lead Munchkin, was so shy, he kept running away. "The funny thing about Sergio, he loved running away," Ms. Senechal said. "We were rehearsing in my room and he just stood outside for an hour; he wouldn't come in."
In the auditorium, he hid behind the curtains. Still, Ms. Senechal did not give up. "It's a positive pattern," she explained. "He hides but wants to be here."
Laura Fronczak of Poland Glinda the Good Witch kept refusing to sing her big solo. She'd have a giggling fit and announce, "Miss, I can't sing today," and it was like Greta Garbo wanting to be alone; there was nothing Ms. Senechal could do, except wait, for weeks. "When Laura finally sang," Ms. Senechal said, "it was such a big event, I called her parents."
Some complained that Yasser Arafath, the Cowardly Lion, was mumbling. But Ms. Senechal said: "He'll be fine. Yasser has a very, very quiet spirit. He seems shy but is very strong and steadfast."
Camila Tavarez, from the Dominican Republic, didn't want to be the Wicked Witch of the West, so Ms. Senechal cut a deal. "I said, 'You don't have to be an ugly witch, you don't even have to be green, you can be a beautiful wicked witch.' "
Several girls wear scarves for religious reasons, and Ms. Senechal chose one, Asfara Begum, from Bangladesh, to be Dorothy.
Dorothy with a head scarf? "Did you notice her smile?" Ms. Senechal said. "She has a radiant nature."
Rehearsals went on daily for five months, using the 37.5 minutes that usually gets spent on test prep and tutoring. The principal, Gertrude Adduci, got it right away. "The Wizard of Oz" it's about them," Ms. Adduci said. "If you're new to this country, you need courage."
THEY did. In mid-May, the two chorus lines were still banging into each other during "Ding-Dong, the Witch is Dead." It was obvious that Jesse Canete, a member of the Lollipop Guild, had never been a dancer back in Mexico. "Jesse, start on your right foot," Ms. Senechal pleaded. "No, no, this is your right foot," she said, wiggling a right foot at him.
The day before the premiere, she still had one Munchkin and one Winkie costume to sew. In dark moments she wondered if she'd taken on too much, but she never let the students see that. What they saw was how much she cared. "Miss talks to us like we're relatives," said Shamsul the Tin Man.
People who teach English classes for immigrants aren't required to speak other languages, but if, like Ms. Senechal, they do, it helps them understand how a new language is acquired.
Ms. Senechal is 42 and not a typical first-year teacher. She has a doctorate from Yale in Slavic languages, is fluent in Russian and Spanish, speaks French and Dutch, and has studied Lithuanian, Croatian, Latin and Greek. She came to I.S. 223, in the Borough Park neighborhood, through the city's Teaching Fellows program, which recruits people who have had other careers.
"One way I pick up language is through memorization of music and poetry," Ms. Senechal said. "For me, the arts are an important inroad into a language." The Wizard also gave her a perfect story line. Sergio the Munchkin said moving from Mexico to Brooklyn, "it's like we come over the rainbow."
Education is a big reason their families sacrificed. The Tin Man's father owned two stores in Bangladesh; here, he's a laborer. The Wicked Witch's mother was a lawyer, and cleans houses here.
Students interviewed said this school was better than the ones they had attended in their native lands. "This is a high education place," the Tin Man said. "A lot of more satisfactory things than in Bangladesh."
Ms. Senechal sees a school that takes poor children 100 percent get free lunches and provides opportunity. This is why she has no faith in the federal No Child Left Behind law, which labels I.S. 223 a failing school. While I.S. 223 students in every racial and ethnic subgroup made their testing goals in English, math and science, the law requires 95 percent to be tested, and on the English exam, the school was 7 students short. "That makes us a failing school?" she said. "Nonsense. Remarkable things happen at this school."
Ms. Senechal watched her students working together to get the English words right for the play.
"Emeny?" said Laura the Good Witch.
"Enemy," said Yestak Haq, the Scarecrow.
"Emer-rolled City?" Laura said.
"Emerald," said Shahwar Bibi, the lead Winkie.
The teacher saw signs of Americanization right before her eyes. On the afternoon of opening night, Asfara sporting a blue gingham pinafore, ruby slippers, a stuffed Toto and braids decided not to wear her head scarf. "This is quite a development," said Ms. Senechal, who made her call home before the performance.
"My mother says, 'All right, it looks nice, I can do for a day, that's O.K.,' " Asfara reported back.
The show started at 8 past the hour, just as on Broadway. Ms. Senechal was stationed in front of the stage, and to avoid distracting the audience, crawled between the sound board stage left (she'd put microphones on several actors, including Yasser the quiet-spirited lion) and a laptop stage right that projected a huge image of Mohammed Tanim, the Wizard.
If the truth be told, the beginning, in Kansas, was flat, the students' accented English hard to understand. But the moment Asfara, her braids swinging in the air, looked her stuffed dog in the eye and said, "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more," the play soared, the singing and dancing carrying the show.
At the end there was tons of applause, woo-woos, cameras flashing and two curtain calls. Dorothy gave Ms. Senechal a bouquet of flowers, and then the cast and director gathered for juice and cookies.
Ms. Senechal knows this Brooklyn stage is the closest most will get to Broadway. But that was never the point. Like the great and powerful Oz, she gave them a peek at what they are made of. The Tin Man hopes to use what he discovered to become a scientist, the Lion a computer specialist, and Dorothy an engineer.

Storytelling for Young Adults: a Guide to Tales for Teens, Second Edition. By Gail De Vos. 2003. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited. 224 pages. ISBN: 9781563089039 (hard cover).
Isn't storytelling just for young children? Aren't teens more interested in blogging and surfing and texting? Storytelling for Young Adults replies, "no" and "yes" respectively to these two questions. While teens are a difficult audience for storytelling (due in part to their associations with it as a preschool or library storyhour activity with which they want nothing further to do), De Vos makes a compelling case for using folklore (and some literary tales) with this audience.