Slice of Life Tuesday: Told You So

This post is part of the Weekly Slice of Life challenge from Two Writing Teachers. Check them out!

Last week, I had the joy of seeing my third-grade colleagues put on storytelling festivals with their students. As a culmination of their fairy tale unit, children told their stories to one another. I love to listen to kids, love to hear students I know – just KNOW! – will shine through this medium. Even better, I love to watch their teachers, seeing children’s talents and strengths from a different direction.

An in-person festival, COVID-style
A Zoom festival, because sometimes that’s how you get it done

I’m so grateful to my colleagues for getting brave about tracing a new path with this unit. I’m so grateful to the students for getting brave in their telling. And I’m grateful that storytelling, true to form, has revealed surprises that (to me, at least) have always hidden in plain sight.

Today’s poem is for them.

I told you so,
told you the telling
would tell
all I hoped it would,

I told you so,
that all you have to do
tell a story
and your wiggly ones
and your prickly ones
and your hard-to-reach ones
would sit,
engaged in jargonspeak

I told you so,
that all you have to do
let them tell a story
and your mouthy ones
and your sticky readers
and your tricky writers
would find themselves,
would find voice
and voices
and reveal stories
and story structure
and plots and subplots
and complex sentences

I told you so,
that all of those things
we hope come out of pens
or keyboards
pour forth
from mouths,
through bodies
into ears and hearts

I told you so,
that storytelling
would bring you surprises:
children gathered
from the fringes
and held
to new light,

Published by Lainie Levin

Mom of two, full-time teacher, wife, daughter, sister, friend, and holder of a very full plate

7 thoughts on “Slice of Life Tuesday: Told You So

  1. Storytelling is an art. A good story instantly captivates the listener and keeps them riveted. The nice thing is, everyone has a story to tell. We just need to give them the time and encouragement to tell them. The results are always surprising.

  2. What a wonderful experience and a lovely poem to go with it! I loved the ways you described the kids–wiggly, prickly, sticky, tricky–and how they found success in the process.

  3. Love all these internal rhymes and the “sparkling” truths you convey here, the brightest of which is that children are natural storytellers. Given the chance – like fish taking to water. I recall Donald Graves’ words that teachers must “create the conditions for good writing to occur.” We are in charge of the atmosphere in our spaces, and here we sense borders and barriers removed for freedom to grow, and a lushness, an abundance; pure delight. I expect children (and their teachers) will carry this experience with them always, evoking the book The Power of Moments; for children were empowered. So were their teachers. Well done, Lainie, festival-sparker, storyteller extraordinaire, scattering words and love of them in your own special brand of magic, everywhere you go! I’d have loved being part of this. Seeds for the future…

    1. Thanks, Fran! My little fingers are crossed that I’ve started something, that my colleagues will want to continue this practice. I’m also hoping that they’ll extend it to other areas, or that other grade levels will want to explore it. Baby steps, baby steps…

  4. All you have to do is “let them tell a story.” What a great moment when it all comes together and the outcome proves that children just need the space to be heard. It looks like the celebration was a success.

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