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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Creative School Assemblies can Stimulate a Thirst for Knowledge

by Jim Woodard

A drab history lesson can become an exciting and motivational experience for students who attend school assemblies. As a professional storyteller, I often prepare and deliver special programs for school assemblies. A few weeks ago when a principal called and requested a program, I asked what special subjects were being studied at that point by the students. "The major study right now is California history," the Southern California school principal said. "But we're having a tough time getting our students motivated. They seem to think the subject is quite a drag." I suggested planning and delivering a storytelling program focusing on The Great California Gold Rush - certainly a key historical event in California and nationwide. The principal approved the subject and I started preparing for the presentation.

It turned out to be a smash success for the 4th and 5th graders in that auditorium. They were all attentive and responsive. Students in a couple of the classes subsequently sent me notes, expressing how they felt about the presentation. Here are a couple of their comments:

"Thank you for telling us how people found gold during the California Gold Rush. You made it sound real, like it was happening right now. I got really excited about it."

"Thanks for telling us the story of the Gold Rush. I didn't know history could be so interesting - not boring at all. You made it come to life. I hope you come again and tell more stories about history."

My point here is that school assembly presentations can be exciting and a motivational experience for students, even when the subject is one that many students consider to be drab and boring. The key is in the planning and delivery of the presentation. By incorporating related and captivating little stories at strategic points within the program, students attention level remains high and they become involved and excited about the subject being discussed. And, of course, they comprehend and retain the information better.

The age-old practice of oral storytelling is the oldest and still a viable form of educating youngsters. Also, as a result of the positive audience response to an introductory story, the speaker has more self confidence in delivering his primary message and can do so more forcefully. School assembly speakers would be well advised to seek and use special stories that not only fascinate students but have viable educational and motivational qualities in themselves. The inclusion of the right stories the right positions within a prepared assembly presentation can be the spark that ignites a winning presentation.


Jim Woodard is a professional storyteller and writer. He has delivered hundreds of storytelling programs for groups in West Coast cities and the Midwest. He also writes a nationally syndicated newspaper column. Phone 805/658-6697 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 805/658-6697 end_of_the_skype_highlighting. Web site: www.storyteller.net/jwoodard/

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