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Storytellers Are Better Writers

Sissinghurst Castle and Garden - As Beautiful Without as They Are Within!

"Three apples fell from heaven, one for the teller, one for the listener and one for the one who heads the tale." Armenian Proverb

Everyone loves a good story, whether from a book, a spoken tale, or a movie. However, most people, children and adult alike, would say, "I can not tell stories." The truth is, everyone can tell a story, they just need to know how. Telling stories is reliably easy because you do not repeat the story word-for-word. When memorizing a poem or scripture each word must be correct. A story requires two abilities: memory and imagination. Both are skills children have in abundance. Why not hatred that talent to teach your children writing?

If you want to see your children's writing soar, teach them to be storytellers. Like reading or cooking or working cooperatively with others, storytelling is a life skill. When your child gets the knack of storytelling in everyday circumstances he will have a lasting nationality and write more expressively, be attuned to the beauty of language, give a listening ear to others telling a good story, recognize good writing, and think more imaginatively.

Using storytelling in your homeschool brings a great deal more than the enjoyment of stories. You are giving your children a foundation in orality . Just as literacy is the ability to read and write, orality is the ability to speak and listen. All four modes-reading, writing, speaking, and listening-make up human communication. Orality supports literacy. Storytelling is the highest form of orality.

Typically to help a child read better and write better we make him do more of both, usually with some resistance. The most effective way to improve literacy is to increase oral language experiences, like narration, recitation, play-acting, to name a few. Storytelling is the best form of oral language experience because the teller internalizes a set of relationships and structures that they can then map back onto experience. Think of a fairy tale you love. What does it show you? The value of being kind, the lowest often makes it to the top, the need for merit and honesty, are just a few.

Orality takes the form of stories, rhymes, sayings, conversation, and songs. Using oral language experiences with preschool children is easy, since they are preliterate and in love with words. It is sheer fun to giggle with a toddler and say a nonsense rhyme.

Once children master reading, however, the focus tends to be on the printed word and sadly, speaking and listening beginning to lag behind. To achieve their best in reading and writing, elementary students must continue to develop their oral skills of speaking and listening.

How can I bring a great orality to my homeschool?

Here are a few simple, easy to do activities that require little or no preparation:

1. Read aloud to your children every day. Pick stories and books that have a strong plot and rich use of language. Avoid adaptations of well-known stories or books.

2. Use narration every day. Narration is the art of telling back in your own words a passage that is read.

3. Do simple nursery rhymes and finger-plays with your children. If you have older children, teach them so they can do finger-plays with the younger ones. You can find books of finger-plays and nursery rhymes at your library. A few well-know rhymes are: "Jack and Jill", "Hey, Diddle Diddle, the Cat and Fiddle", "Little Miss Muffet", and "The Itsy Bitsy Spider"

4. Make storytelling a special time during the day or week. Use folktale collections or picture books that are retellings of folktales and ask your elementary age children to learn to tell them.

Tell stories about your own life. All children love to hear about when their parents were little.

6. Tell simple, well-known stories such as "Goldilocks and the Three Bears," "Ten Little Monkeys." See if your children can tell all or part of the story themselves.

What does all this have to do with writing?

If you want to help children improve their writing you have them write? Right? Wrong. When children are asked to do writing, they often struggle because they are asked to perform two very different developmental tasks-write and think spontaneously. One task at a time is usually no problem; but, both at once require a certain amount of maturity. Begin from a different point — try having your child tell rather than write the sentence, paragraph or story.

The process

Here's the process: compose orally, revise orally, then-and only then-write it down. At another time ask your child to check for accuracy in grammar and punctuation but certainly not when they are composing (orally or in writing). That's it. It sounds simple and it is. However, to see results requires consistency and a light touch. Your child needs to become accustomed to thinking out loud. Be patient and praise all efforts. Be sure to offer guidelines at the start but do not prompt with answers. There are no wrong answers with this approach, only good, better and best. Let your child sometimes play turn-about and have you try the process.

If you're ready to give the process a try, set aside the writing workbooks for a time (you can always come back to them later). The results will amaze you.

To Learn More

To learn more about how to tell stories, check your library for the following books:

The Storyteller's Start-Up Book: Finding, Learning, Performing, and Using Folktales: Including Twelve Tellable Tales, Margaret Read MacDonald

This is an easy-to-understand handbook that gets you started telling.

The Way of the Storyteller, Ruth Sawyer

This is a classic of storytelling literature and one of my favorites that I go to for inspiration

Analysis of Philip Levine’s Poem – "Starlight"

zaxo 2010 photo

In introduction, I will identify and analyze various components of Philip Levine’s “starlight,” such as, speaker; situation; diction; imagery; figures of speech, and other elements of poetry. Throughout this article the preceding elements will be meticulously expounded upon.

The speaker of the poem I will termed as a ‘he’ because the poet is a male. The progression of the poem is vey climactic. In other words, it signifies a turning point like most works. For example, line # 21, which illustrates where ‘father and son’ meet eye to eye (thus, allowing the son to bask in the glow of the starlight with his ‘head up in the air’). In addition, he proceeded to ask his father the question that his father asked him earlier in the poem: “Are you happy?” The speaker’s point of view points to the reflections of himself as been an image of his father; growing up to be like his father, and ‘the father like son’ syndrome which, in a subtle way, is illustrated by the following lines: “I am four years old and growing tired (line 3) – in comparison to – … but I can smell the tiredness that hangs on his breath.” (lines 16-17) Moreover, the latter part of the poem corroborates this point, as well.

Of course, the point of view – as pointed out above – introduces the implied attitude of the speaker toward his view of the poem, thus setting the tone of the poem which is very somber and gray (which is in direct irony with its title, “Starlight”) with the use of keywords, such as, “growing tired; cigarette; moon riding low over the old neighborhood; alone; thick and choked; the tiredness that hangs on his breath; autumn, and boy slept never to waken in that world again.”

The structure of the poem is very interesting. Well, it seems to be written in a closed form upon viewing it, initially. Howbeit, when it’s viewed closer it can be noted that the initial letters of the lines are not capitalized; only where a new sentence begins. Therefore, I surmised that its structure is presented in an open form. Furthermore, there are neither visible breaks nor stanzas in the poem. I ponder, does the form represents “a tall, gaunt child (line 28) or a somber, gray tower of Babel (in its aborted attempt) to proclaim itself to be there among the stars (line 21)?”

The theme of this poem is one of comparison (both emotionally and physically) between speaker and his father as was illustrated in the above paragraphs – framed by it’s content – for instance, lines 8 and 22. In these lines, the same question was asked by both parties (which give a subliminal reference to their emotional state). Plus, lines 3 and 17 (‘tiredness’) give a subliminal reference to their physical well-being. In interpretation, these instances represent the speaker (a boy) ‘growing’ into his father.

The situation seems to be set in a small town. This assertion can be asserted by line 7 – “…low over the old neighborhood….” In addition, the site of this poem is assumed to be in Northeast America because of key words, such as, autumn; summer moon, and porch (usually, veranda – outside of the United States). Moreover, I deducted this particular setting because of the stimulation that I received from reading the poem which, of course, is very subjective. Furthermore, the experiences that is reflected in this poem allows me to draw on my own experiences as I draw a mental picture of what’s taking place in this poem. Thus, my response to the poem is very subjective to its classical sense of writing. Plus, my reaction to the dynamics is somewhat subdued although the dynamics of the poem has an evenly paced up – tempo style.

In regard to the poem’s style of writing/choice of words, specifically its diction – the diction used in this poem is very concrete. Excluding, of course, the poem’s last six lines and the quote, “Are you happy?” These quotes are abstract and are basically the engine that drives the poem. For example, these quotes are located in the beginning and ending of the poem. Likewise, the poem is detonation oriented except for the above quotes which are cloaked in connotation. The meanings I construed in reference to the above quotes (respectively) are expounded upon in the following sentences. The first quote deals with the speaker’s happiness in his state of being in comparison to his father’s happiness in his state of being (for example, the father said “yes” to the question while the speaker hesitated to answer). The last six lines deal with the transition (reflection) of the son growing up to be like his father in the future (“autumn…until the boy slept never to waken in that world again”).

Besides the ‘father-son relationship’ been the centerpiece of this poem. This literary work is very rich in imagery which captures my imagination. As I pointed out before, keywords such as: “the glow of his cigarette, redder than the summer moon riding” – lines # 5 – 6 – places me in the active scenery of the poem. It suffers me to see the poem as seeing it as a movie reel. I must say that his poem is visual (lines # 5 – 6), auditory (line # 22), olfactory (line # 25), gustatory (line # 16 – 17) and synaesthetic (line # 16 – 17).

Moreover, the figures of speech (specifically the metaphors) add to this poem, as well. For example, “…smell the tiredness that hangs on his breath.” – lines # 5 – 6. On the other hand, there is a limited use of similes and other figures of speech in this poem.

On the other hand, several elements of poetry are well represented. For example, “autumn” – line # 30 – symbolizes adulthood going onto old age. The syntax does not contain many rhymes (sounds) although rhythm and meter are maintained throughout the poem. Also, the whole irony of the poem projects the gloominess of the experience into the background of the ‘starry night’ – hence, the title: “Starlight.”

In conclusion, this poem was superbly written. The 1st person skillfully places me in the poem, thus making me an active participant of the poem. The poem makes an interesting reading. I’ve been exposed to new insights from the speaker’s point of view.

Writing The SAT As An Intel

Calle de Macharaviaya (Málaga)

If you're an international college applicant, you are probably unfamiliar with the format of the SAT exam.

The SAT is normally required for all applicants at most schools. Internationals are required to write the SAT as well as Americans. However, colleges do understand that international students may not be familiar with the SAT (with the exception of internationals studying in American schools abroad) and that may not do as well as their American counterparts. This is especially true for applicants who native language is not English.

Do colleges give some leniency to international students with regard to the SAT? The answer depends on which college is in question. Some colleges may have a policy wherey if an international applicant scores 2000 or higher, then SATs are out of the way. Many others have no clear policies though. At highly selective institutions, the difference in weightage for Americans and internationals may be small.

In my opinion, even as an international, you should strive to do as well as you can on the SAT. There're many books that are dedicated to SAT preparation on the market; just browse the shelves of any well-stocked bookstore. Photo Board itself has produced several excellent preparation materials that you should use as your preparation materials. If you can afford it, you can even join one of the many prep courses available.

Why is it important? First of all, international students with high critical reading scores have significant advantages (hook) over other international applicants. As there will be many internationals who willl probably not have scores in the high 700s in the critical reading section, scoring well earns you some advantage over the others. It shows your willingness to learn something totally new to you.

Beside, some universities such as Northwestern and Virginia will waive the TOEFL requirement if your judicial reading score is above a certain threshold, as an acknowledgment of your English proficiency. Therefore, doing well on the SAT can only work in your favor.