Louisiana Story Fest Residency Day 1

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Strehle Residency: Pelican Board 2-11-08


Today was the first day of my Louisiana Story Fest residency at a local school. The whole school is participating in a year-long study of Louisiana. Each grade is focusing on a different aspect of Louisiana. The school hired me as a teaching artist, through an arts grant, to work with the students using my signature story theater method. Our theme is “Louisiana Story Fest, based on the ideas outlined in my book, Story Fest: Crafting Story Theater Scripts. For grades PK-2, we are studying Louisiana folklore and music. I am telling Louisiana stories and doing scarf activities to explore Louisiana music (Cajun, Zydeco, Jazz). Here are first grade students using scarves and dancing to Zydeco music.

1st Grade Scarves

For grades 3-5, we are studying Louisiana folktales. I developed story theater scripts for each class, based on Louisiana folktales. The students worked with scarves, doing dramatic role-play. The scripts are designed for whole class participation. Everyone gets a part. The stories are divided into individual storyteller roles and then parts for a story “chorus.” The storytellers will narrate and act out the story while the chorus sings, chants, and dances their part. It’s a lot of fun. The fifth graders below are acting out a Mardi Gras parade, depicting a float with a king on top and Mardi Gras revelers surrounding the float.

5th Grade with scarves 2-11-08

I was tickled pink when a first grade boy gushed, “Ms. Dianne, this was the best day of my entire life!” A kindergartner told the class, “Ms. Dianne is better than the President of the United States!” Wow! Maybe the White House should hire me… LOL

The residency will culminate in grade level performances by grades 3-5. In addition, the lower grades and parents will be invited to watch the show. Story theater is a great way to explore language arts and reading comprehension in a fun and dynamic lesson. The whole brain is engaged as the students develop sequencing skills, work on problem solving, perform group work, and learn the stories. I look forward to the rest of my week with these students. It’s really cool that my work having a school-wide impact because I get to work on a longer-term basis. It’s not just a 45 minute performance. The skills and self-confidence students gain from performing can have lasting, life-long effects.

Support the arts in the schools! Happy Tales to You!

Warmly, Dianne