3 Collecting community stories
Storytelling is a shared activity that can bind a family or community together, recall histories, and preserve languages and cultures. There are many stories that older members of the community will remember. Collecting these stories is an exciting way of involving your students, their families and the community in the life of the school. You can read about an example of how one class does this in Case Study 2.
Case Study 2: Collecting local stories
Ms Kuheli is an elementary school teacher from Lucknow. Here she describes how she encourages her students to share stories from their community.
I ask my students to learn a story from their family members or neighbours. I give them about a week to collect and learn the story. I then invite one or two students a day to tell their story to the class, using different voices, gestures and actions to accompany it.
The first time I did this, my students told their stories in Hindi. However, the next time, I decided to include stories in the various local languages spoken in Lucknow, such as Awadhi, Braj, Bhojpuri, Koeli and Urdu. I asked the students who speak these languages to collect a story and tell it to the class. When they had finished, they translated the story into Hindi, with the help of their classmates.
I followed this up by inviting the whole class to draw pictures to illustrate the key events or main characters in the story they had heard or to write it out in their copybooks.
By sharing the stories from their communities with their peers, this activity seems to be building connections among my students within the classroom.
Pause for thought
Collecting stories, songs, poems or other oral traditions from the community creates a positive link between the school, your students’ families and other local people. It enables students to ask thoughtful questions and listen carefully to accounts of the history and culture of their locality. Encouraging students to retell these stories in their home languages emphasises the value of these languages in the local environment. It also allows students to use these languages to develop their Hindi.
If some students seem hesitant to tell their stories, you might ask them to tell you their story after the lesson. This would give them an opportunity to try telling it in a safe and private space, instead of in front of their peers. Make sure to praise and encourage these students so as to build their confidence. You could also try pairing them with students that you know are their friends, or who speak the same home language.
Read the key resource ‘Involving all’ to learn more about the principles of inclusion and participation in the classroom.
Video: Involving all
For further ideas about how to follow up students’ stories, see Activity 3.
Activity 3: Collecting stories from the community
Organising the collection of stories by your students will need time, along with sensitive and careful planning.
- Using Case Study 2 as a guide, prepare your students to ask their family members at home if they are familiar with any stories, songs, or poems. Encourage your students to learn these stories, songs or poems, in Hindi or their home language, using voice, gestures and actions to accompany them if they wish.
- Make a special time each day, or once a week, for a student to tell their story.
- Allow them to practise the story with a partner or small group before telling it to the whole class.
- Model to the rest of the class how to be a good and appreciative listener. Respond positively to your students’ efforts to tell the stories and encourage their classmates to do the same.
- If the story is in a local language, allow time to discuss the translation into Hindi, focusing on the corresponding key words in the story.
- Seek out opportunities for your students to tell their stories to other classes, at the school assembly or at a local event.
Ask your students write out their stories in their copybooks, accompanying them with illustrations.