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I had a memorable two weeks working with five Form 1 classes (forty 12-yr old girls in each) at Maryknoll Convent School in Kowloon Tong. With 10 hours per class, I was able to tackle different topics with each one: Greek myths, women in folktales, world folktales, creating our own original stories and exploring choral poetry (as one of their class readers is an anthology of poems.)
The girls relished the opportunity to play creatively within the framework provided by the stories. There were many highly entertaining re-tellings in what is best described as story-theatre: drama with a narrative voice linking scenes, describing settings/character and explaining actions (and of course vocabulary like the loom of Arachne or the doko basket of Nepal.)
When sharing the Judgement of Paris, the group of 4 cleverly drew the golden apple on the whiteboard, labelled the apple ‘To The Most Beautiful’ and mimed tossing it over the whiteboard as the wall of Zeus garden. Paris’ choice of Aphrodite was highly reminiscent of a Miss World contest, with the narrator/MC whipping up audience participation.
The story of Archimedes startling discovery of how to measure the volume of the golden crown was hilariously presented by a wife more concerned by his nudity (and what the nosey neighbours would think!)
As told by the girls, the friendship of Pythias and Damon, and the loss of Orpheus’ love, Eurydice, were moving in their simplicity.
As I retold key moments of The Odyssey - a 25 minute story! - the girls created a map of his journey: all 40 students contributed a picture to the map as the story unfolded. With the help of this pictures sequencing the story, the girls surprised themselves by being able to re-tell it in its entirety, a sentence or two at a time!
Hong Kong student storytellers
THE MANGO TREE
a joyful celebration of the inter-connectedness of all things in a Javanese folktale told story-theatre style. I only suggested using the chair; the argument, the clasped hands and the delightful closing fanfare are all their own ideas. It reflects not only their creativity but also their pleasure in sharing this story in their second language.
The Indian folktale of 6 BLIND MEN AND THE ELEPHANT re-told by two brave Form 1 girls (the third member of their group was sick on the day, so they had to improvise the telling.)
The use of the illustration is excellent and demonstrates how a visual can be effectively integrated in a language learning situation.