May 7th Regional Story Slams: Results

Yesterday's regional high school story slams at Club Passim were magically wonderful. What a great set of stories this year! Excellent work from all the storytellers and teachers.

Here is a quick update on the winners and their prizes:

8th,9th,10th slam                                                         

Jenna Walsh               8    Somerville            $25.00        honorable mention jr. high

Julie Stapleton            8    Somerville            $25.00        honorable mention jr. high

Julianna Grossman     9    Burlington             $100.00     storyteller to watch

Julio Valladares           9    Chelsea               $200.00      runner up

John Flynn                  10Worcester            $200.00      runner up

Lovety Monroe            9    Worcester            $200.00      runner up

Daxi Carballo               9    Chelsea               $300.00      1st


Senior Slam                                                                  

Jennifer Duran             12Lynn                     $250.00      3rd place

David Judkins             12Worcester            $500.00      runners up

Jared Vargas              12Lynn                     $500.00      runners up

Nicole Silvia                12Lynn                     $1,000.00   1st prize


We are still short on our fundraising goal. We do have a bridge loan so the students will be awarded but we could use the support - especially from the communities that participate.  Here's the link: Scholarship Awards for, please share.




StoriesLive®-6: Starts tomorrow

StoriesLive® in 6th year of storytelling in
area high schools

Over 7,000 Greater Boston high school students have learned to tell compelling personal narratives, live, without notes or props using the StoriesLive® curriculum.  Starting this fall, StoriesLive® will continue, fueled by several STARs grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. We also will be administered as a project independent from massmouth,inc.. For bookings in Massachusetts contact: Gail Zarren at: Young Audiences of Massachusetts

STARS Residencies (Students and Teachers Working with Artists, Scientists, and Scholars) provide grants of $500-$5,000 to schools to support creative learning residencies of three days or more in the arts, sciences, and humanities. They are an important part of the MCC's Creative Youth Initiative. Through the STARS program the MCC recognizes the vital role that creative learning in the arts, sciences, and humanities plays in the successful education of young people. Cultural partners - teaching artists, scientists, scholars, and cultural organizations - help schools bring creative learning to students, both in and outside the classroom.

So far, we have 4 schools participating in our program and all 4 have received MCC STARs residency grants:  Ms. Sadada Jackson invited us to work with her 8th and 9th grades at Dearborn STEM Academy in Boston. They will start the 6th season on November 10th 2015. We'll revisit Chelsea High, and their ELL Bridge Program in March 2016, East Somerville Community School 7th grades will rejoin and several classes in Worcester's South Community High participate in February of 2016.

This year the story prompts are very much like last year's with one new addition: Problem Solved!  *♦ Where I Am From:  Some students have a background, interest, talent or story* that is so central to their identity that they believe their identity would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. *♦ Epic Fail:  Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure.  How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn? (*Learned the Hard Way)   *♦ Says Who? Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea.  Could be a world view or an individual belief. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again? *♦ Problem Solved:  Describe a situation or time you had a problem and you found a solution.  Could be interpersonal, could be an invention, could be any kind of problem. What steps did you take and and why is it meaningful to you? ♦ Rite of Passage: Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or in your family. Or in your own understanding. ♦ The First Time Tell us about your first best friend.  Do you remember moving into a new neighborhood … a new house?  Do you remember your first bicycle?  First airplane ride?  First date?  First time you ever went to the ER? First great moment playing on a sport or other team?  First time at or in a live performance? The first time you realized you were mortal? ♦ Lost & Found: Have you ever been totally lost?  Did you ever lose your keys or something really important? Did you lose your heart to someone?  Did you ever lose a pet?  Did you ever find something in an unexpected way?  Has someone found you? Ever lost faith? Lost hope? Found hope?  This is last one is an alternative - request permission from instructor…
Up the Family Tree: Where is your family from?  Any famous people?  Any infamous people?  Do you remember a special holiday?  Do you have a story about you and your siblings?  Is there something special about your parents, siblings, or a close relative?  Has a story about your grandmother/grandfather, or aunt/uncle made an impact?  Do you have a special family tradition?

1001 Stories in High School: Scheherazade Revisited


This story was originally by Norah Dooley at the Public Humanist

There is a bell or a buzzer and then--an explosion of noise! It’s the change of classes. Whether in Everett or Newburyport, we were carried on waves of energy and words from the quiet end of one class to the subdued beginning of the next. Yes! Here was the natural drive of teenagers to communicate and connect that we wanted to engage.

When we started teaching high school students we were pumped, ready and excited. It was also bit scary. Even though I have been teaching storytelling for decades, this was a high school program of greater depth and breadth than I had ever attempted. Would the “story magic” work as it always had in the past? I felt like I do about baking: all that careful measuring and planning, then the long wait to see how something turns out. I am too impatient to be a good baker. And human beings are not inert ingredients. And teaching is only a little like baking.

Still we planned and approached StoriesLive® like expert pastry chefs. The prep was way longer than the baking. We had met with teachers and administrators and crafted our lessons down to the minute. In each school, students had seen our performances and a short workshop that followed had already elicited a few stories in each assembly. We had good materials. We had plans. But as any teacher knows, teaching is an art because the
reproducible results of science are only possible when you have control of your materials. And humans are only partly “material.” Besides, our plan was to open up the world of junior and senior high school students to the creative energy in the art of storytelling. We were about release and direct energy, not control it. It seemed a natural fit.

Especially as we walked in the halls from class to class-- stories were being told all around us. But it was also a bit risky. In some schools we were going to teach all the English classes in a cohort: all the juniors in Newburyport and Everett and all the seniors in Lynn Classical High School. This was our dream come true, but it also happened all at once, from March 11th until April15th. It was way more students and classes than we had anticipated at one time, and it was a bear to organize.

In the end we taught over 1,100 students in 5 high schools. This meant we had many students who are taking English Language Arts because it is required. And in some classes we struggled to get the students to open up and tell their personal stories. They all loved listening to stories, but telling their own? That was not on their agenda. At first.

But things happen when you mix live stories and people. One good story calls another. Collectively we massmouth storytellers heard over a thousand stories. And by the time we had the mini- story slam in classrooms, all of the StoriesLive® storyteller-educators started to hear some amazing things.

In one of my classes a young man who was clearly in English class under protest, sat back and offered low-level disruption whenever he could. When his turn came, he grumbled a mild protest as he walked to the front of the class to present. Then he started to tell his story. He told about how when it was time for him to leave his country, his grandmother was so sad she would not stay to see him on board the airplane. Instead she left early and walked back, a long, long way from the city, to her home. Some years later, when she was very ill back home, he was riding in a car with his family. He had his iPod on, listening to his tunes. Then . . . he thought he heard the voice of his grandmother in his headphones. He heard her say “Goodbye, son.” It scared him. It seemed so real. But he kept it to himself because he knew his mother and whole family were worried about his grandmother. When they got home the phone rang. It was the news that his grandmother had just passed. He ended by saying that he was glad that his grandmother had spoken to him one last time. He had established a context and the meaning and had created a clear beginning, middle, and end. There was a hushed respect and silence as he finished. Then there was a thunderous burst of applause.

When I told the ELA department head that I just heard an amazing story from “Jorge,” she was more than mildly surprised. He was neither a participator, nor cooperative, nor an “A student,” but he had told something deep and important about his life. And he told it well.

And this is what we had wanted. A chance to show educators that oral expression is not only the natural format of language but also a discipline that can be learned. Given some tools and guidance, all students have a story and a voice. We wanted to show the teens that their stories mattered to each other and the wider community. In One Thousand and One Nights, Scheherazade told stories to stay alive.

Storieslive® was created to teach high school students the art of storytelling in part to keep storytelling alive. We created a new audience for storytelling and we showed students how they are more connected and alive to the possibilities of their lives by knowing and telling their own stories.

The first ever regionalStoriesLive® Scholarship High School slam was held on Saturday, April 30th, 2011, starting at 2:30 PM in the auditorium of the Cambridge Public Library (Main Branch). Free and open to the public, this event was supported by a Mass Humanities “Engaging New Audiences” grant and StoryStream, Cambridge's city wide storytelling initiative and StoriesLive® has brought forth many more stories;poignant, funny, sad and joyful. Check out our Youtube channel for more videos of student storytelling.