Storytelling was used with Year 7 students as part of The Full English learning programme at Queensbridge School in Birmingham. This pack details how Amy Douglas worked with the students, and provides some Storytelling exercises and some Ballad Story Bones to help get you started.
Queensbridge School is an ethnically diverse, six form entry, outstanding school. It is also a specialist college in visual and performing arts. In 2013/2014, Queensbridge worked with EFDSS to introduce folk arts as part of the Year 7s Bronze Arts Awards and as the main focus for their whole year performance.
Although storytelling can lead into and inform many activities, it is primarily a solo activity. We wanted all members of the storytelling group to tell a story as part of the performance. We decided the best way to incorporate these stories would be to have the storytelling as a prologue; to have students in role as groups of navvies sitting around campfires swapping stories while the audience came through and listened before taking their seats for the central performance. The stories would be based on ballads from the EFDSS digital archive, using ballads from Birmingham wherever possible.
The EFDSS digital archive (www.vwml.org) provided the perfect ballad for the backbone of the performance – The Cruel Ship’s Carpenter, published in Birmingham. In meetings between folk artists and teaching staff we established a rough outline of how the performance would work, telling the story of the ballad; linking in ideas of white ladies, water spirits protecting the canals; modern day students exploring the canals; the history of the making of the canals; traditional navvie songs; folk dance to bring the main characters together – and sword dance for the dramatic murder.
Amy is a vibrant professional storyteller with a passion for traditional stories and riddles. She first discovered storytelling at a folk festival in her teens and has been a devotee of the art ever since, broadening her knowledge, experience and skills as a storyteller as well as promoting and celebrating the art form.
Over the past twenty years she has delved deep into the folklore of Britain, revelling in tales of the strange and macabre; memories of magic and other worlds; proud recollections of folk history; stories to make you smile, sigh or shiver; stories that have been moulded by the land, weather and generations of tongues wagging.
In 1993 Amy was awarded the first ACEWM Storytelling Apprenticeship and spent a year studying with professional storytellers throughout Britain and America, beginning a lifelong friendship and mentorship with Scottish Traveller storyteller, Duncan Williamson. Amy was a founder member of both the Tales at the Edge storytelling club and Festival at the Edge international storytelling festival and served two years as a Director of the Society for Storytelling. Amy now has two decades of experience as a performer, workshop leader, oral historian, project manager and award winning author.
Amy is passionate about using storytelling in schools. Storytelling is an imaginative, inspiring, intrinsically human artform, effective at describing emotion, building empathy, exploring places we may never go, bonding a group and building shared experiences. Inspiring children into a love of language at an early age can dramatically change the course of their learning career. As they grow, storytelling can help explore difficult concepts, provide a frame-work for learning new skills and build self-confidence. Storytelling is the perfect medium for inspiring creative thought, with the possibility to lead into a wide range of exploratory, arts and creative writing avenues. Most importantly, it is fun!
Note that these links take you to the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library website which holds the full archival details of the material. Material on the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library website is not censored or expurgated and may contain material considered offensive by modern standards.