Storytelling is always something I’ve loved ever since I can remember, I am from a nation of storytellers after all, so it was probably only a matter of time before I went down the storytelling route in not only my teaching and CPD but also as a general interest or even hobby.
A few months into my last masters, around September 2019, I bought David Heathfield’s book Storytelling with Our Students to delve further into the area, and always enjoyed the articles he wrote in ETProfessional magazine, collecting a huge number of folk stories from students all around the world.
Flash forward to Winter 2020 when Covid is rampant around the world, and Italy is on red alert lockdown for the entire festive period, so my world had shrunk to the size of my bedroom, bathroom and kitchen for a two week period with not another soul in sight. Obviously I needed some form of interaction with humans and the outside world, so there was no better email to receive from EventBrite than one informing me that David was running his Creative and Engaging Storytelling for Teachers (CrEST) course between Christmas and New Year’s.
I have to say if you are a teacher or are someone interesting in telling stories, not even in a teaching manner, but simply to other people (even your own family), this is definitely a course you want to sign up to. It’s fun, it’s interesting, it’s incredibly multicultural so you get stories from all over the world, and most of all, we laughed a lot doing it.
At the end of it, we had to create a mini-project, so since it was a storytelling course, I decided to create a story from scratch, using the techniques and ideas that we picked up along the way. Normally, being from Ireland, a story teller, or seanchaí in Irish, does the talking, and everyone sits and listens. Instead, I wanted to work on my stories being more open to young learners, to get them engaged more, get them taking part more, and making them a part of the story.
What I ended up doing was creating the story Biorna the Bear. Biorna was a bear who wakes up in winter 2020 with nothing to do but read the books he has, only this time, he decides to share them with others. I wanted to incorporate music (badly in the video below), props, custom chants, some Irish vocabulary, negative interrogatives which are very common in Irish storytelling, and some references to other well-known folk characters that I’ve crossed paths with.
The end result can be seen below, and luckily enough, wearing a giant blanket and being so close to a naked flame, I can state I did not set myself on fire!
Some notes on the story, the chant was, “Gael, Gael tell us a tale, tell a tale that’s off the scale!” and an amadán is a foolish person in Irish.
Over time, when I get more confident in other stories that I know or pick up, I’ll do a recording of them and stick them online here, but for a first storytelling blog post, why not start with a custom written story!