Last year I discovered Story Listening through a wonderful teacher named Meghan Hayes and her YouTube Channel. I started using this method, and, in the summer of 2019, I had the opportunity to be in a two-day training with the creator of this method, Dr. Beniko Mason. I also had the opportunity to meet and see Meghan in action. So inspirational!
Story Listening is not just sitting to read a book to your students or using props to tell a story. Story Listening (SL) requires a process to get ready for the story. Drawing while you tell the story is a big part of it, along with providing input that is optimal (comprehensible, compelling, rich, and abundant). If you are interested in learning more about Story Listening, I highly recommend that you start by understanding the research behind this method. Here is a video of Dr. Mason talking about SL.
I also keep discovering other YouTube channels of wonderful teachers who use this method and share about it. Cécile (@towardproficiency) is one of them! She recently shared how she used the story Julián is a Mermaid***by Jesicca Love (@jesslovedraws), and Profe Valentina shared with me that she also told the story to her students. Thanks to the inspiration from these two teachers, I decided to introduce the story to my 3rd and 4th graders. Some of them had already read the book and were excited to see it in the Story Listening format!
I have gotten in the habit of sharing and talking in some depth about the author or cultures related to a story before I tell the story to my students. I find this to be much more rewarding and thoughtful for me and the students than just quickly naming an author or culture/country and proceeding to tell a story. In the case of Julián is a Mermaid, my students got to learn a little about author Jessica Love. As a follow-up activity, I often bring the books to class so they can see the beautiful illustrations too! I get a chance to talk about the book. Unfortunately, my classes are only 25 minutes long, and I try to squeeze in as much as I can while still trying to ensure I’m pacing things to give my students time to process and go along with me.
I have been using SL with my home learning students via Zoom so they don’t really get to see that I “cheat” a little with my drawing. I actually draw my simple figures on sticky notes and put them on the board next to a version of the story.
As you can see in one of the pictures, my drawings are basic, but my students really love the process of me making them and then giving them a chance to try to figure it out. I have really enjoyed using SL in my classes and highly recommend that you give it a try! I invite you to bring to your students the power and magic behind Story Listening and to take a risk no matter what you feel about your own artistic talent. Students love it!