By Lesley Machon
(AJNews) – “Story, as it turns out, was crucial to our evolution—more so than opposable thumbs. Opposable thumbs let us hang on; story told us what to hang on to.” – Lisa Cron, Wired for Story
In today’s fast-paced world, it can be easy to forget the importance of reflecting on our past and understanding how our experiences shape us. However, for Tali Miles’ Grade 2 students, taking the time to explore their personal histories was not only a fun project, but a meaningful one as well. Through an autobiography project, these students had the opportunity to delve into their past, reflect on their present, and dream about their future. They discovered the power of storytelling and how sharing their stories can create connections and foster understanding.
Students began by reading the biographies of famous individuals such as Kobe Bryant, Walt Disney, Danica Patrick, Sue Bird, and Judy Blume. After combing through these stories for details and interesting facts, they set off to collect details from their own early days, including their birth dates, birth cities, and their temperaments as babies.
Honing in on the present, they wrote “Top Ten Lists” that highlighted their current favourite foods, people, sports, and other interests. These lists gave insight into each student’s personality and helped the class get to know each other better.
After each section was complete, students compiled all their writing pieces and bound them into a book, along with baby photos. They wrote a summary of their autobiography, and drew a side profile of themselves to accent with written details including favourite foods, sports, country flags, and siblings. To conclude their project, students were asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The answers were both amusing and inspiring, ranging from basketball coach to snake store salesperson.
The project provided the students with an opportunity to learn about themselves and each other. By sharing their favourite pages from their autobiographies in groups of four, students discovered they had friends who could roll their tongues, friends who had large soccer card collections, and friends who had siblings or were only children. They also learned about each other’s favourite foods, favourite animals, and shared baby pictures.
While the project may have focused on personal history, it highlighted the importance of storytelling in our lives. Each student’s autobiography was a story, and students were able to share it with their classmates in a way that was engaging and informative. Their reflections cultivated self-awareness, curiosity about self and other, and an appreciation for their unique identities.
This is the power of storytelling. Stories help us connect with others, learn from each other, and understand ourselves better. They allow us to share our experiences and perspectives in a way that is memorable and meaningful. As Neil Gaiman once said, “We owe it to each other to tell stories.”
Whether telling our own stories or listening to others, storytelling is a powerful tool that can inspire, motivate, and transform. It can help us make sense of our lives, and bring us closer to the people around us. In a world where we are bombarded with information and distractions, storytelling is a way to slow down, connect, and reflect.
In conclusion, storytelling is an essential part of the human experience. As these Grade 2 students learned through their autobiography project, storytelling is not just about sharing information. It’s about creating connections, fostering understanding, learning from each other, building relationships, and making sense of our own lives. Whether we are sharing our favorite childhood memories or discussing our hopes and dreams for the future, storytelling has the power to educate, entertain, and inspire.
Lesley Machon is a Humanities Teacher at Calgary Jewish Academy.
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