PETAA: Primary English Teaching Association Australia
Kim Cootes & Dr Gill Pennington
Pembroke Junior School 9:30am-12:30pm Thursday 12 March, 2020
Responding playfully to stories.
I am in my 16th year of teaching now, and with my teaching background and especially after becoming a mother, I know how intrinsic play and playful learning is within children. All children learn through play. Multilingual Story Boxes was the name of the PD I attended on Thursday, I thoroughly enjoyed this presentation, however, this was not the first time I had come across this concept, and I’m sure it won’t be my last.
About 12-13 years ago, my previous primary school suggested “Play Boxes”, which essentially are the same thing as these Multilingual Story Boxes. A box full of books, props, trinkets, toys, costumes, etc. around themes of texts to benefit all learners at whatever stage of development. The teachers loved them, the children loved them and each staff member would add their resources to the boxes after use and share it around. A great concept with fantastic resources, ready for the staff and students to borrow and use.
I was glad to be reminded of this concept at this PD. In my new role as the EALD teacher at St Andrew’s, I often have classroom teachers asking me for resources to support their EAL students. Whilst I have happily shared printed and digital resources, readings and supported students in and out of classes, there just isn’t enough time in my timetable to give these students and teachers enough support! Here is what I took away from this PD:
“What is essential for EALD students is also beneficial for all learners”
If we are providing essential, language rich, playful learning tasks for EAL students this will benefit ALL students in the class. Differentiation is key. Do what you would usually do, and cater for diversity.
As a side note, I am aware that play-based learning is predominantly an early years and junior primary school focus, however, it can and should also be done in the middle and upper primary classes – just pitched at a different level. I taught Year 6 students for three years and was creative in my approach to play based learning, it just looked a little different with older students.
I loved the suggested texts recommended below; some I have used before and others were new to me. It is important for children to see themselves represented in stories and be able to connect with characters. Mirror Books was a term used in the PD, and our teacher librarian (Tracey Billington) had just spoken to staff about books being windows or mirrors for students. A “window” to see into a character’s life and empathise with them, or a “mirror” to see themselves reflected in the book as a character they can relate to.
Recommended Books: Ziba Came on a Boat, Four Feet, Two Sandals & Stepping Stones (Bilingual), My Two Blankets & Handra’s Surprise.
This video clip is of a Reception class that read and explored Handra’s Surprise and recreated the story. It’s wonderful!
Storytelling Resources (Pennington, 2017):
- Personal to the teller in the form of memories or events, leading to the development of family stories.
- Artefacts to which stories become attached over time.
- Printed and online texts, TV programs and movies.
- National and cultural myths and histories passed down over generations.
- Stories which accompany religious practices and beliefs.
As educators we know the value of storytelling, not just reading books to each other. Storytelling comes from the home, from communities, cultures, families and friends. It is a way of life, connecting with others and making sense of our world. Children should be given the opportunity to tell and share their stories.
The clip below called “Helicopter Stories, Letting Imagination Fly”, was shared at the PD. I think this method of storytelling is fantastic. I majored in Drama at university and have always had a passion for the Arts and expression through performance. This is exactly what students should be doing to explore, create and tell stories. I would also highly recommend using puppets/ puppetry to explore this method.
This is an example of children telling stories in their language. The method involves the teacher recording the student’s story on one page only, then reading their story aloud in a group, allowing the author of the story to act out their story with friends. Love it!
- www.abbeys.com.au Great website to purchase bilingual books.
- Designing Learning for Diverse Classrooms by Paul Dufficy
- A Grammar Companion by Beverly Derewianka
- The Book Garden: https://thebookgarden.com.au/
- Global Language Pty Ltd: https://www.globallanguage.com.au/
- Lost in Books: https://www.lostinbooks.com.au/
Attached is the PDF of the PowerPoint from the presentation by Kim Cootes & Dr Gill Pennington. There were many useful pages with resources, references to research and examples of the Multilingual Story Boxes texts and props. Multilingual Storyboxes Adelaide
Where to from here?
- My goal after this PD is to create a sample Multilingual Story Box for my school. With the assistance of our teacher librarian, I hope to source a box and add resources to it, then model the process with a selection of Reception and Year 1 classes.
- I’d like to share this learning in one of our staff meetings to reinforce the message that “What is essential for EALD students is also beneficial for all learners”. All staff have the skills to cater for our EALD students, they just crave some resources and support, which is completely understandable.
Thanks for reading, I hope you found this useful.