Brainy Ways to Teach Kids Through Stories - College of Education

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20 Οκτ 2013 (πριν από 3 χρόνια και 7 μήνες)

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University of Maryland, College Park, USA

Prof. Maria Laura Fuertes.
ARGENTINA

2010

F
ULBRIGHT
DISTINGUISHED
AWARDS IN
TEACHING
PROGRAM

B
RAINY
W
AYS TO
T
EACH
K
IDS
T
HROUGH
S
TORIES



Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program


Maria Laura Fuertes




Brainy W
ays to Teach Kids Through Stories


1

Acknowledgements

I am grateful to the Fulbright Commission, Bureau of Educational and Cultural
Affairs, the US Department of State and the Academy of Educational Development for
developing and organizing the Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program and giving
me the unique

opportunity to be part of this enriching experience.

Many people have contributed to my experience
,

of which this Capstone Project
is just one outcome. At the University of Maryland, I am thankful to Dr. James
Greenberg and Mrs. Letitia Williams, for the
ir constant support and encouragement; my
mentors Dr. Lea Ann Christenson and Dr. Paula Beckmann who have lovingly guided
and helped editing
my work; Dr. Nathan Fox, who

spent time sharing his expertise in the
area of brain research with me
.

I would like t
o show gratitude to Sean Layne and
Michelle L. Carney,
Program Coordinator of “Changing Education Through the Arts”
from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts who have allowed me to
participate in an unforgettable workshop.

I want to mention
my DAT colleagues with whom I have discussed and shaped
the development of the project. This growing experience would not have been the same
without them.


I owe my deepest gratitude to my mother,
to
Constanza de la Vega and
to
Lucrecia

Prat Gay de Tei
saire. Their exemplar professionalism and love for teaching
have always guided me in my career
.

I am grateful to Asociac
ion Educar for all I have
learned

from them about Neuropsychoeducation and especially to Mirta Polla Rossi,
who has lovingly introduced
me to this new field and guided me ever since. Also, to my
students
,

who are my main sources of inspiration
,

and to my school principals for
allowing me to take some time away from my daily duties to be part of this experience
and work on this project. I w
ould like to thank my family and friends who have “virtually”
accompanied me th
r
oughout.




Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program


Maria Laura Fuertes




Brainy W
ays to Teach Kids Through Stories


2

Table of Contents

Introdu
ction









3















Learning is About the Brain






5


Learning is About Survival






7


Learning Requires Activation Prior
Knowledge



7


Attention is Key to Learning





8


Learning is About Emotions





9


The Environment Affects Learning




10


Learning is About Memory






11


Learning is About Rehearsal





15


Learning is About Social Interaction




17


Learning is About

Creativity





18


Tools of the Mind







19



What are Executive Functions?




19

Stories as an Effective Teaching Tool





21


Tiny Toy Tales







22

Making Connections







27

Story Kit Sample: Anansi and the Moss
-
Covered Rock


35


Script and Teache
rs’ Intervention





35


Analysis of characteristics






40



Story Preview






41



Story Experience






42



Playing with the Story





43

Teacher Training Proposal






46

Conclusions and Future Challenges





48

References









49



Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program


Maria Laura Fuertes




Brainy W
ays to Teach Kids Through Stories


3




Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program


Maria Laura Fuertes




Brainy W
ays to Teach Kids Through Stories


4

Brainy Ways
to Teach Kids Through Stories



“Teachers are a bit like gardeners when it comes to learning. Just like gardeners,
teachers can sow seeds in a learner’s mind, and can nourish and sustain good ideas
and important facts, and weed out misunderstandings and
mistakes.”


(Blakemore & Frith, 2005)



This

analogy

illustrates how

I usually think of my job as an EFL teacher in
Kindergarten
and Primary School in Argentina: T
hat of a gardener
,

‘planting a little seed’
in each of my students. Whether the seed grows into a little plant or a leafy tree
(or does
not grow a
t

all)
will probably depend on future
experiences and
continued
exposure.

Education is to the brain what gardening is to a land
scape.
Every time an
individual

learn
s

something new, something in the

brain has changed (Blakemore &
Frith, 2005).
L
earning about how the brain works has opened up a path to rethink
teaching tools and strategies in the class
room
.
This is a

path that can e
nlighten the
work of those educators who

decide to follow

it. I decided t
o take this path some years
ago

when I was first introduced to this topic at some seminars and then decided to start
studying Neuropsychoeducation
:

Sciences and Neurosciences for the
general public, in
clear and simple language, for the understanding and improvement of our behavior with
Asociacion Educar (
www.asociacioneducar.com
) This field is currently being
defined by
some experts
as

Mind, Br
ain and Education Science
.


T
he more

teachers
know about
how the brain works, the better we will be able to design instructio
n to match how the
brain

learns best.

N
euroscientists claim we are at an early age in our understanding of the brain.
Indeed,

some scientists and
some
teachers consider it is too soon to think about the
connection betw
een resea
rch and the classroom (Bruer, 2002).

Yet

there are some
concepts about how the brain works that confirm what experienced educators have

Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program


Maria Laura Fuertes




Brainy W
ays to Teach Kids Through Stories


5

known and u
sed in their
classrooms
. R
esearch adds

further
understand
ing

of why som
e
strategies work and which ones

should always
be
present:

“Although current brain
science technologies offer excitin
g opportunities to educators
, they complement rather
than replace
traditional

methods of educational enquiry
” (Goswami, 2004)
.


Brain scans cannot,
do not
a
nd will not

give rise to lesson plans.
But they
certainly inform.
So, there is a growing need to bridge the gap between these two
worlds
:

neuroscience and education.

In fact, “The study of learning uni
tes education and
neuroscience”

(Goswami, 2004)
.

A report presented

in 2007

by

Pickering and Howard
-
Jones
reflect
s

t
he high level of enthusiasm of

some teachers in the UK and o
ther
locations around the world
to
relate
neur
o
science and education.

The article also
emphasizes the importance of communication and reciprocal interaction between
profes
sionals in these fields

to “enrich classroom practice with scientific understanding
of the brain and mind”.

The

new interdiscip
linar
y field
that
has emerged: Mind, Brain

and Education (MBE) aims at

bring
ing

the latest research methods
to bear on education
and including

the wisdom of teachers in research paradigms. The MBE Society has
been formed and a Journal has been launched.

G
iven this new trend in education
, my

project

put
s

together some concepts of t
he
brain and mind
with
knowledge

on education

and expertise as an EFL teacher
in order
to co
me

u
p with a proposal to be used
in the classroom.

The purpose of this project is to
describe



why teaching through stories is an
effective EFL instruction tool f
o
r

young learners
,

within the context of
Mind, Brain and Education Science





how to implement a

‘story kit’ that embodies
its
main

concepts.

The focus is on
transl
ating

theoretical

knowledge
to daily classroom practice
and
an
attempt
to make some connections between

these two
.
I have
focus
ed

on using
stories

since

they
are

a major
resource to teach

EFL to children
.
A
nalyzing

the use of
stories
through

the lens of N
europsychoeducation

or MBE
Science

could
strengthen the
argument about
the power of stories as a tool to teach.



Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program


Maria Laura Fuertes




Brainy W
ays to Teach Kids Through Stories


6

L
earning i
s About the Brain


Complex interactions take place every second in our brain
.

The first step

in

understand
ing how teachers can use knowledge of brain development to promote
learning is to
have a fundamental understanding

of basic brain concepts.


A brain cell is called a
neuron

(Figure 1).
Each neuron consists of a cell body, an
axon and dendrites. We are born

with a certain number of neurons (probably around
100 billion).
T
he number of neurons
does not change

with development
.

However, w
hat

does change is the connections and
communication between them. This neuronal
communication is what learning is about. Eac
h neuron has the capacity to connect with
others through
synapse
.

A s
ynapse is the junction of the axon terminal of one neuron
and a dendrite on t
he cell body of a second neuron

(
Wolfe,
2001).

Neurons do not
touch.
Information from one neuron flows in the
form of electric signals passing down
the axon to another neuron.

Axons are covered by an insulating fatty tissue called
myelin that makes transmission of messages faster.
Yet, information cannot be carried
to this other

neuron in an electrical
state;

i
t t
r
avels across the synaptic
gap attached to a
chemical
neurotransmitter

that allows this
process of communication between neurons
to take place. As

neurons make connections, the brain grows dendrites and
complex
neural networks

are created.

Their connections will grow stronger each time these
neurons “fire” together.
If the brain accesses a
neural
network often,
the webs are
strengthened as well as extended
and the axons

become

heavily myelinated.
Learning
has been defined by Donald

Hebb as

Neurons tha
t fire together, wire together”:
When
an axon of cell A is near enough to excite cell B and repeatedly or persistently takes
part in firing it, some growth process or metabolic change takes place in one or both
cells such that A's efficiency, a
s one of the cells firing B, is increased

(Wolfe, 2001)
.



Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program


Maria Laura Fuertes




Brainy W
ays to Teach Kids Through Stories


7


Figure
1
. The Neuron


Building strong webs is what learning is all about. If what is being learnt is not
meaningful or useful enough to be used again, the network that
supports such learning
will become weak and us
eless.

N
etworks that are regularly used are maintained
,
strengthened

and hard
-
w
ired into the brain, whereas

others are
pruned
.

The

saying
“If

you don’t use it, you lose it” is generally related to these processes.


The brain
also
has a unique characteristic that supports learning:
neural
plasticity
.
The concept of plasticity refers to the brain’s capacity to change due to
experience.
Experience

drives physical c
hanges in the brain. Dendrites (
and neural
networks) increase in size and number in response to learned skills, experience and
inform
ation (
Willis, 2006)
.

According to Greenough and his colleagues, the development
of the brain relies on two different types of plasticity:
experience
-
expectant

and
expe
rience
-
dependant

synaptogenesis (formation of synapses).

The former describes
the processes that are common to

all the members of a species, those

expected


processes
such as early sensory system development of vision or speech. The latter
app
lies to individual members and

it is involved in the storage of information that is
unique to each individual. New synapti
c connections are generated in response to the
occurrence of a to
-
be
-
remembered event, of which timing and character vary from one

Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program


Maria Laura Fuertes




Brainy W
ays to Teach Kids Through Stories


8

indiv
idual to another
(Greenough et al., 1987)
.

From this perspective
, learning
a for
eign
language appears to be an experienc
e
-
dependant process.


A
s Goswami

(2004)

suggest
s, “l
earning comprises changes in connectivity,
either via changes in the potentiation at the synapse or via strengthening or pruning of
connections. Successful teaching thus directly affects brain function,
by chang
ing the
connectivity.” It is not the same to teach one way or another. It is our role as teachers to
make of the teaching/learning process the most effective for our children.



L
earning Is About S
urvival


What is the brains’ main concern? The bra
in has
evolved to better protect the
well
-
being

of its own owner and species to survive.

Since
su
rvival

is its

main concern,
information that

is essential for survival will be worthwhile learning. Then, protection,
imminent
satisfaction and

pleasure

become part of its repertoire worthwhile of effort
and attention.
The brain selectively focuses attention on that i
nformation

it recognizes

with survival or interest value.
Many times, the brain is compared to a sieve, because
most of the information is d
iscarded and filtered, and on
ly that that is relevant ‘
stays in
.




Learning
R
equires
Activating Prior K
nowledge


T
o predict the likelihood that effort and attention will result in success
ful
outcomes, the brain uses

knowledge from previous experiences.
The brain is a
pattern
seeking organ
, and as such, it is most attuned to information that it recognizes as
patterns or ca
tegories it has already formed
(
Willis,
2007, 2008)
.

As a result,
activating
prior knowledge is important: T
he brain assigns meaning t
o
incoming stimuli depending
on whether it can match an existing pattern or activate an existing neural network.

Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program


Maria Laura Fuertes




Brainy W
ays to Teach Kids Through Stories


9

When information matches and adds to an existing network, there is a better chance of
storing it.
The links that can be made between new inform
ation and existing knowledge
are useful to make th
e incoming stimulus meaningful and for learning to take place.
Otherwise, mismatch might lead to rejection, misinterpretation or ignorance of the
incoming stimuli.

Now, both of the main processes
involved in the learning/teaching scenario
that
Willis considers have become clear. These
are neuroplasticity and patterning.
Neuroplasticity

is the possibility of changing, revising, extending neural networks.
Patterning
refers to the meaningful organizat
ion, coding and categorization of the
information in the brain.



A
ttention
Is Key
t
o

L
earning


Attention is selective.
Our brains use it to constantly survey our internal and
external environments to determine what is important and what is not.
The Reticular
Activating System
(RAS)
in the brainstem is involved in

this process of selecting
relevant stimuli. Among its functions, this system is a filter for the thousands of stimuli
that bombard the sensory receptors every second, allowing focus
only

on what is
important and

relevant for survival.

It selectively alerts the brain to changes in the
environment that may indicate danger or signal opportunities.
‘Reticular’ means ‘netlike’,
which makes this system

something like a chemical net that opens a
nd

closes to let
information
coming in through our senses
flow in or
be kept
out of the brain.
All
sensorimotor information flow
s through our brainstem (
Sylwester, 1995).




Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program


Maria Laura Fuertes




Brainy W
ays to Teach Kids Through Stories

1

0

Learning

Is A
bout Emotions


“The message from neuroscience is clear:

N
o longer can

we think of lea
rning as separate from emotion”

Im
mordino
-
Yang and

Faeth (
Sousa,
2010
)


Attention is closely linked to emotions. Why

is this so
?
Emotions provide a quick,
general assessment of the situation that draws on powerful internal needs and values.

Sylwester
(1995)
defines this relationship

by saying that
e
motion drives attention and
attenti
on drives learning and memory
.

Also, Immordino and Faeth
(2010)
have
compared
the
role of emotion

to a rudder that guides a ship
: Though its influence might
not be visible, it provides a force that stabilizes the direction of a learner’s decisions and
behaviors.

Most incoming sensory information is sent first to the thalamus, which then relays
it to the sensory and frontal lobes f
or detailed analysis and response. But, w
hen
emotionally charged
information comes in
,

the thalamus
takes it on a more rapid
pathway to the amygdala
in the
limbic system
. Based on the limited information that it
has received, the amygdala uses primitive, general categorizations to activate an
immediate response.

The
amygdala

is loaded with peptides, which are neurotransmitters that
modulate emotional state
s and energy an
d it is highly connected to most brain areas.
There are far more neural fibers that project from this emotional center to the rational
cortical centers than the reverse.
So, this makes the amygdala

the main regulator of
emotions in charge of interpreting and evaluating the “emotional value

and
relevance
” of
the incoming sensory data

here and now
.

Goswami
(2004)
clearly explains that
assessing the value of information being received is an important
f
unction of the
emotional

brain
.
At this point, the information can be sent to th
e
pre frontal
cortex
-
if it is

Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program


Maria Laura Fuertes




Brainy W
ays to Teach Kids Through Stories

1

1

considered pleasurable
-

or it can be diver
ted away from it by blocking its

entry

-
if it is
considered stressful.

This is a
reaction, not a
decision made
.


How does this happen?
It is related to the metabolic activity in the amygdala.
When it senses fear, threat or an
xiety, the amygdala becomes strongly

activated and it
takes up the available oxygen and glucose in the brain, and thus, puts th
e brain into
“survival mode”

and blocks

the path to the prefrontal cortex.
As Goswami
(2004)
suggests, “When the amygdala is strongly activated, it interrupts acti
o
n and thought,
and triggers rapidly bodily responses critical for survival.”
This

is an
automatic
interruption mechanism
.
On the other hand, when it senses comfort, joy and
challenge
, the amygdala is stimulated but with lower metabolic activity
-
which enables
and facilitates the neuronal transport
ation

of information. Whether positive or nega
tive,
the imprint left in

the amygdala is stro
ng and this is relevant in

subsequent experiences.
This is very much related to Stephen Krashen’s affective filter hypothesis in his theory of
Second Language Acquisition, where he
described that successful learning was
reduced when
the learners experienced stress or
anxiety.


The Environment A
ffects
Learning



One longstanding debate

about

how development takes place is

that presented
by the question

of nature vs. nurture. How genetic and environmental

influences work
together
h
as

always brought

about continuous

questioning. It is currently believed that
both are dynamically related to sh
ape each individual.
If brain development depends on
both geneti
c programs and environment
al experiences, it is not surprising

that there has
been growing interest in what this environment should be like

to foster

e
ffective
learning
. This is clearly related to the previous explanation of the role of the limbic
system.
Efficient
learning
, as Goswami

(2004) explain
s,

does not take place when the
learner is
experiencing fear or stress.

A positive, non
-
threatening environment is

Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program


Maria Laura Fuertes




Brainy W
ays to Teach Kids Through Stories

1

2

fundamental for learning to occur.

Hart

(1983)

describes this as the phenomenon of
downshifting
, whereby the individual detects threat and the fast acting brain resources
take over, not allowing for the
higher thinking part of the brain to work
.

Two major

ideas were presented
at the beginning of the paper concerning

the
value of an incoming stimuli
: first its survival value and then its emotional or interest
value. This last one is related to the brain’s desire to seek pleasurable states

within a
positive environment
, in which the neurotransmitter dopamine is
a key element.

Dopamine

is one of many neurotransmitters that carry information across
synapses between connecting neurons.
The brain’s dopamine system is involved in
risk
-
taking behavior and reward. Dopamine is released in greater amounts in response
to
positive experiences

and

acknowledgement of achievement
. The greatest benefit
of this system

is that it increases the
efficiency of the synapses controlling attention,
decisions and executive functions. Another neurotransmitter is relea
sed when pleasure
or reward is
mere
ly expect
ed: acetylcholine. The added benefit is that this
neurotransmitter directly stimulates the hippocampus, the modulating center for
consolidating new learning to related

stored memory

(Willis, 2007)
.


Learning Is A
bout
Memory


Memory is
essential to survival: Without the ability to
learn,
store and recall how
to

respond to physical needs

and changes in the environment, the individual is at risk.
According to
Ratey

(2001
)
, memory is stable as it
enables the individual to learn from
experie
nce and
it has to be flexible enough
to adapt to the changing environments.

He
describes it as
“the centripetal force that pulls together learning, understanding and
consciousness.


In the past, it was though
t

that one memory was held by one neuron
and that each
section of the brain performed

a single operation in isolation. This is not
the case. Now, neuroscientists know that there is not one single center for memory

and
that it is hard to separate the memory
from the act of retrieving it.


Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program


Maria Laura Fuertes




Brainy W
ays to Teach Kids Through Stories

1

3

Learning is about turning sensory input into memory.

Bits and pieces are stored
in different networks of neurons in the brain.

Each time an individual encounters an
object, for instance,

it puts together the pieces to recogn
ize it.

If the individual can see,
touch, or even hear, smell or taste the object, more sensory pathways are activated in
the recognition and or retrieval process.

The
hippocampus
, a structure next to the
amygdala, appears to be the “mas
ter regulator”. It

is here that

the incoming sensory
data is linked to previous knowledge, classified and stored accordingly in appropriate
memory
networks
elsewhere in our brain. The hippocampus is important in the
processes of making new relations and of transforming shor
t term memory to long term
memory.

Many scientists agree that memory is a multifaceted, complex process that
involve the activation of various neural networks
in different areas of the brain

(Wolfe,
2001)
.

In fact,
memory is not a single function but a collection of mental abilities that
depend on different systems within the brain.
Figure 2 illustrates

the Three Box Model of
Three Interacting Memory Systems provides a simple description of the memory
system.


Figure
2
. Three Box Model. From
www.aboutmind.com


Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program


Maria Laura Fuertes




Brainy W
ays to Teach Kids Through Stories

1

4



Sensory m
emory

refers to
the incoming sensory

information through the
sensory receptors and hold
ing

it for a fraction of a second until a decision is
made as to what t
o

do about it, whether it is important enough to attend to.

Each
sense provides an individual with a part of the world

sound, sight, taste, smell,
touch


and so then memories can be recal
led from any number of cues

and

the

same memory can be retrieved by more than one type cue.



Short
-
term memory

refers to the ability to hold information in your mind’s eye.
It
retains information for seconds if it is not repeated. The capacity for storage
and
processing of short term memory is limited.



Working memory

is a more recent extension of the concept of sh
ort
-
term
memory. It
allows individuals to integrate perceptual information and consci
ously
manipulate it
.
It is part of the executive functions
of the Pre Frontal Cortex.




Long
-
term memory

consists of information stored for an indefinite period. The
capacity for storage is considered to be extremely large. It is created when short
term memory is strengthened through meaningful association with exi
sting
patters and prior knowledge.
What individuals record, use and recall is a mixture
of different types of memory, drawing on different systems.

The following chart
shows one way of dividing long term memory:


Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program


Maria Laura Fuertes




Brainy W
ays to Teach Kids Through Stories

1

5


Figure
3
. Long Term Memory. From
www.aboutmind.com


The first distinction is between explicit
(declarative)
and implic
it (non
-
declarative) memory
.
Explicit memory

encodes factual
information
and it is
directly accessible to our conscious awareness.
It is flexible,
rapidly retrieved

and
occasionally unreliable
.
Implicit memory
, on the other hand, is responsib
le for
the skills, the processes
. Once learnt, it does not have to be consciously
retrieved. Impl
icit memory is inflexible, slow but ex
tremely reliable. Most of
everyday learning and functioning results from turning explicit memories to
implicit ones
. (Ratey, 2001)


There are two types of explicit memory: Episodic and Semantic memory.
Episodic memory

is related to the capacity to place facts and events in time and
place, when and where the information was acquired.
Semantic memory

is the
retention of facts, events, objects, words, symbols and meanings, the impersonal
basis of one’s repertoire of knowledge. These facts are normally independent of

Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program


Maria Laura Fuertes




Brainy W
ays to Teach Kids Through Stories

1

6

a particular time or place.
How are these formed? Each new explicit memory
goes throug
h four sequential processes: encoding, consolidation, storage and
retrieval.

I
mplicit memory involves:
procedural memory,
conditioned reflex,
emotional conditioning

and

priming

effect
.
Procedural memory

refers to
knowing how to do something
. Practice is f
undamental
. It is the basis for our
mental and physical skills.

Also, i
mplicit memory is where many of our
conditioned reflexes and conditioned emotional responses are stored.

Conditioned reflex

is the process of acquiring the kind of information that the
brain sends to the body for an automatic response. The information and
response are generally the same every time this form of memory is triggered.
Emotional conditioning

is the memory system t
hat links perceptual information
to an emotional response.
Finally,
p
riming effect

is related to increased
sensitivity to a stimulus due to prior experiences.
Priming is the non
-
declarative
memory function that improves the brain’s ability to detect,
identify, or respond to
a stimulus that it has processed recently.



Learning
Is A
bout

Rehe
arsal


“Practice doesn’t make perfect

it makes permanent”

Madeline Hunter (Willis, 2007)


Recall one of the major

ideas about learning
and memory
identified
previously

that “Neurons that fire together, wire together”. This happens when the networks

are
first created. To
strengthen

this wiring and make it

more efficient and even
more
accessible
, a memory circuit ne
eds to be
repeatedly stimulated

or
activated.
Practice
has a main role in the learning process. I
t is through practice, rehearsal,
repetition that

Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program


Maria Laura Fuertes




Brainy W
ays to Teach Kids Through Stories

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7

information can become part of our working memory and then held as long term
memory.
Finally, and ide
ally, the process might become
automatic
.


Figure
4
. Practice strengthens connections.

A

report published by
Nature

(Draganski, Gaser, Bush, & Schuierer, 2004)
,
explains how
the brain appears to change
with practice. In the study, a group of
subjects trained to juggle over a period
of three months showed increased grey matter
i
n specific brain areas. After some time without practicing, the subjects were scanned
again
and
a decrease in the
se

connections was evident. The structural change

evinced

shows the importance of rehearsal and p
ractice
as part of the learning process. It

is also
an example of the process of pruning
and the saying “If you don’t use it, you lose it”
described before

in the paper
.

When the brain perceives the ‘same’ information r
epeatedly through different
sense
s
,
this

makes the encoding of this information more efficient. Next time, it will be
easier to recall this information.
Because each of the senses has a separate storage
area in the brain, multisensory input results in duplicated storage and can be retrieved
by a variety of stimuli. So then, o
ne same memory can be retrieved by more than one
type cue.

When a student
participates in a
certain activity, a
certain number
of neurons are
activated.

When the action
is repeated,
these same
neurons respond
again.

The more times
the action is
repeated or
recalled, more
dendrites sprout
to make
connections.

The brain
becomes more
efficient in its
ability to retrieve
that memory.


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Another important aspect of practice is the type of involvement necessary in such
practice for meaningful learning to occur.
Children, just as adults, learn by do
ing,
playing, becoming
active participants

in the
rehearsal
process. A simple and
inte
resting example is presented by
Willis
(2007)
in which she asks who learns more
about a route, the driver or the passenger. The driver uses the information of the route,
whereas the passenger sits passively withou
t learning much about the road because
in
the end, the informat
ion is not that useful for him.
Who should be
the ‘active driver’

in
the learning process
?



Learning Is About Social I
nteraction


Humans are socia
l
beings

and the brain a social organ that develops and
prospers when interacting with others.
Throughout life, an individual’s brain changes
and is shaped in response to

its

engagement with others. Therefore, learning is deeply
influenced by the social relationships within which an individual is immersed.

As
humans
,

individuals can imitate others, understand them and learn h
ow to interact with
each other. Vygotsky highlights
the importance of social interaction and considers social
context to have a profound influence on how and what we think.

Children learn mental
processes and construct meaning through sharing, interacting with others (Bodrova &
Leong). Also,
Faeth and

Im
mor
dino
-
Yang
(2010)
consider the importance of b
uilding
academic knowledge
which
involves integrating emotion and cognition in
social
context
.

Some aspects of social behavior are learnt and some others are determined
by genes, here again comes in the nature and nurture debate.
Social behavior
is
dynamically shaped; the design of teaching/learning process cannot disregard this
aspect.




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Learning
Is About C
reativity


Howard
-
Jones

explains that “There is no single part of our brain responsible for
our creativity.
Creative thinking

is a complex thought process that calls upon many
different cognitive functions

and involves many
different regions

dist
ributed around
the brain.” Some studies have shown that when compared to conventional thinking
tasks, those involving creative thinking appear to engage
more complex neural
networks
. Abilities such as working memory and sustained attention are those
associ
ated with creativity. Moreover,
it is noted that
activities associated with
creative
thinking produce differentiated patterns of activity across multiple regions in our brains.

In the book

Mind, Brain and Education:

Neuroscience Implications for the
C
lassroom

,

Hardiman
(2010)
presents a chapter o
n the Creative Artistic Brain where
she discusses

the need to make our classroom places where creativity, innovation,
critical thinking and problem
-
solving
take place.
She argues that despite the rapidly
chan
ging society, education has changed little in response to this reality. Probably, in
order to ‘survive’ this new
world

“a knowledge
-
based and information
-
driven era”, our
brains need to develop creative t
hinking abilities and

be trained in using them.
In 2
008,
the Dana Foundation Arts and Cognition Consortium released a series of articles that
found a tight correlation between exposure to the Arts and improved skills in cognition
and attention.

Artistic expression and interpretation
correlate with

brain processing

associated with creativity, long term memory, concept construction, and the neural
networks that are used when the brain processes information using the highest form of
cognition.

Sc
h
olars’
definitions

of creativity are varied
.
Robinson

(2001)
, for example,
defines it as
“imaginative processes that produce outcomes that are original and have
value

. This involves
doing

something, going
beyond

imaginative thought, being
original

and coming up with something
valuable
.
A

common denominator of the

definitions

of
creativity

is

that it can and should be
taught

and promoted
.

Yet, it is still considered

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outside the cognitive box and therefore,

outside the curriculum.

Sawyer

(2006)
,
in his
article “Educating for Innovation” clearly concludes that “one of the key missions of
schools is to educate for creativity”.


Tools of the Mind




Tools of the Mind


(ToM)

is an evidence
-
based curriculum developed by
educational psychologists Elena

Bedrova and Deborah Leong based

on the theories of
the Russian psychologist
s

Lev Vygotsky

and Alexander Luria
.
One of the main
premises considered is that
soc
ial and cognitive development

is

intimately
integrated
.
The curriculum has two main goals that
are viewed as inseparable
: (1) to
enable teachers to provide

young children with the mental tools necessary for learning;
and, (2) the development of specific academic skills such as symbolic thought, literacy,
and an understanding of math.
These

mental t
ools
essential for learning
are
executive
functions

(EF)
.

In ToM, s
pecific training and techniques for supporting the development
of
EFs are integrated

into almost all classroom activities.
Indeed,

play is viewed as the
leading activity for developing these skills.


What A
re

E
xecutive Functions (EFs)
?


I
n an interview with Krista Tippet
t

in her

program called “Learning, Doing and
Being: A New Science of Education”
, Adele Diamond

defines
EFs
as “what you need
when your initial tendencies would take you in the wrong directions, when things change
or are new
(and you

have to adapt).” Then, she moves on t
o explain three core abilities

-
inhibitory control, working memory and cognitive flexibility
-

which
are
summarize
d

in
t
he following
chart:


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In an article from
Science

(
Diamond
, Barnett, Thomas, & Munro, 2007)

the
results of a study of ToM are presented. In the study,
the outcomes in different groups
of
students
some
being instructed using
ToM

and
others

using a
conventional

Balanced Literacy
” (BL) program

were compared.
The study was carried out with
children with poor EFs and moved them to a more optimal state
.
Both models
covered

the same academic content in the c
lasses, but only those usin
g

the ToM

model
received more explicit instruction on
EFs
.
Some EF promoting activi
ties include
dramatic play,

self
-
regulatory private speech,
play planning, a version of freeze game
and aids to facilitate memory and attention
.
After one year of instructio
n and perceiving
the progress in this latter group, some of teachers decided to halt the experience and
turn towards
ToM
instruction as well.

As part of the study, students were ass
essed on their EFs

using ‘Dots Tasks’ and
‘Flanker Tasks’ as well as other

academic measures by the NIEER (National Institute
INHIBITORY CONTROL


It is the ability to ignore
distraction and stay focused
and to resist making one
response and instead make
another that is most
appropiate or needed.



It makes selective, focused
and sustained attention
possible.




Wait, think and have more
thoughtful reactions.

WORKING MEMORY


It is the ability to hold
information in your mind's
eye and mentally work with
or manipulate that
information.


It allows for understanding
anything that unfolds over
time (relating present to
future or past) remembering
plans and considering
alternatives.


It is an important
characteristic of creativity.
Being creative involves
holding ideas in mind,
disassembling them and
putting them together in new
ways.

COGNITIVE FLEXIBILITY


It is the ability to adjust to
changed demands or
priorities.




It involves being able to
switch one's perspective and
think "outside the box".




It is key for problem
-
solving
and important in the creative
process as well.


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for Early Education Research).
The study has promising conclusions. Children in ToM
classrooms show
ed increased gains in cognitive,
language and social development.
The essential nature of play in the
first years of inst
ruction is highly emphasized as well
as

how much dramatic play aids the de
velopment of
EF
s
. Also, exercising
EFs
on a
daily basis appears to enhance their development and the po
ssibility to transfer these to

new activities.
The main
weak
ness
of the study is the lack of measures of EFs before
and after as well as academic m
easures in the BL

groups.


Stories as an Effective Teaching Tool


Stories engage
, illustrate, inspire, educate…

Stories have always been a unique
tool for me to teach English as a Foreign Language to young children. I consider it is
very important that children are exposed to
authentic oral language input

first, just as
they
have
acquire
d

their first language.
Stor
ies are engaging and meaningful for
children, they

are the perfect
meaningful context

in which language can be taught as a
whole and not as isolated items of vocabulary. By using stories, children develop at an
early age both vocabulary and comprehension s
kills that will be useful for later
development of literacy in the foreign language. Little by little, and in the course of
interactions with the story and other activities, children start developing their oral
expression.



It is well known that language

development occurs with actual use. Children
learn and create their knowledge of the foreign language by interacting with it,
manipulating it and

by engaging in meaningful use. S
tories are such a powerful tool to
teach a foreign language. If learning a l
anguage is an interactive process, children need
many opportunities to
interact i
n a meaningful context and
play

with language while
developing vocabulary and structures. This is very important in the early e
xposure to the
foreign language and stories prov
ide these opportunities.



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Using storybooks successfully in the classroom needs careful planning. Sharing
a story, either by reading a book or through storytelling, is just the first step in the
process of the type of interaction and experience with the for
eign language I create in
the classroom. The activities that follow this first encounter with the story line are the
ones to build
on
and ensure understan
ding, engagement and
ownership

of the story
and the language used. Stories help children in the develo
pment of their receptive
language in an entertaining, meaningful context that naturally invites them to repeat
many of the predictable words and phrases as they gradually take ownership of and add
to their receptive and productive language.

Finally, it is highly relevant consider the importance of the
selection

of the
stories. A good story for the first years of EFL instruction should contain
a conflict that is
solved,
predictable, repetitive patterns that reinforce vocabulary and structures,

relevant
themes for young learners, a
micable characters and
nice
pictures.


Tiny Toy Tales


“… a simple effective literacy strategy for involving students in storytelling…”

Sean Layne (
2005
)


This is the way artist Sean Layne describes his Tiny Toy Tales

in his seminar

“Tiny
Toy Tales
: Make, Take and Tell

. This seminar is part of

CETA,
Changing Education
Through

the Arts



Professional Learning Opportunities for Teachers,
an education
program
organized
by the education department of the John F.

Kennedy C
enter

for the
Performing Arts
. The program has grown over

the last

few

years and includes several
schools as partners throughout school districts in the Washington DC metropolitan area.

One of the recent achievements of the program has been to
re
establish
a clear
definition for “Arts Integration”
, which

is transmitted to teachers throughout the training

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4

programs.

In an article published by the Kennedy Center, Sean Layne and Lynne B.
Silverstein explain this definition,
which
has some interesting points
to
highlight:



Figure
5
. Kennedy Center's CETA definition of Arts Integration


First
, a stand
-
alone activity cannot be considered
“Arts I
ntegration

, since an
approach
“permeates
” a teacher’s practice. Second, “Arts I
ntegration


empowers
chi
ldren with their own learning. The t
eachers’ role becomes that of a guide and
facilitator but children are the ones who experience, elaborate and reflect o
n the subject
matter
,
th
us

build
ing

a deeper understanding.
This can be achieved by maki
n
g sense of
what they have learned and the ability

to make this learning visible through an art form,
which may involve a variety of modalities. It is part of
the
teachers’ responsibility to
make this a creative process in which students “imagine, examine
and experiment” to
solve a proposed challenge. Finally,
this integration considers the importance of
developing “interdisciplinary connections” through which students evolve in their
understanding of both art and the subject matter being taught.





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The m
ain elements in Tiny Toy Tales are:





CONTAINER.
Everything the
teacher needs to tell the story is inside a container.
This container might take different forms depending on the story. Sean Layne

describes the container as a “magic holder of small objects that appear as the
story is told.” I agree with the magical side of this element. It is a novel way of
introducing a story; it generates curiosity to know what is inside and it helps to
“magicall
y” create a “magical” environment
-
in which le
arning will certainly occur
.




PROPS. Different o
bjects are used to tell the story. These
are

the “Tiny Toys”
that the
teacher keeps in the container and are

key elements needed for each
Tale to be told.




PARALINGUISTIC ELEMENTS
. In the telling of the story, paralinguistic elements
are used such as facial express
ions, gestures and prosody
. These

elements

not
only
amuse the
students
,
help deepen the understanding of the story

and

aid
TINY
TOY
TALES

CONTAINER

PROPS

PARALINGUISTIC
ELEMENTS

INVOLVEMENT


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ays to Teach Kids Through Stories

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characterization but als
o

become
a
main
source

of retention an
d future retrieval
of the tale (alongside the props).





INVOLVEMENT
. Ti
ny Toy Tales are unique in that they

encourage students

to
take part
, without losing the pace of the narration
. This can take the form of some
repetition, movement, chant, onomatopoeic words
, laughing


all
opportunities
that the
teacher should create to foster active involvement.


In a site about “Whole Child Education”

the
month of October was

about

“T
eaching
through

the Arts”.
The ideas in the newsletter,
the blog
and
the Podcast,
coincided with the ideas presen
ted

in this paper
. What is more, some of the blog posts

were
about the connection between creativity and the brain with
guest blogger

Judy

Willis, the expert on learning
-
centered brain research

used as a resource for other parts
of the paper.


Some of the m
ain ideas presented in the site

further develop
ed ideas presented
in this
project. One of the main tenets of the “Whole Child Education” is that of
ENGAGEMENT.
This
is
one of the main tenets of the teaching and learning process.
Yet sometimes this is “the road less travelled”.


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Figure
6

Arts Integration. Main Ideas.

W
hen integrating the arts
,



S
tudents are engaged, take an active role,
experience things directly and
express themselves in creative multiple ways.




Students
are challenged to take what they learn and build a deeper
understanding to be able to do something with it.



Children’s academic progress is promoted “outside the cogniti
ve box”, and
thus considering emotional, social and cognitive changes as one same
whole process.



Emotion and learning are connected with a profound effect on whether
and how children learn.

Personal relevance and pleasure are placed as
key factors to engag
e students in their learning process.



Unique opportunities are generated for creativity and higher
-
process
thinking
.

ARTS
INTEGRATION

EMOTION
AND
LEARNING
ARE
CONNECTED

DIRECT
CHALLENGING
EXPERIENCES

PERSONAL
RELEVANCE AND
DEEPER
UNDERSTANDING

PROGRESS

PROMOTED
OUTSIDE THE
COGNITIVE BOX

STUDENTS'
ACTIVE ROLE


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Making Connections


This part of the paper
brings

together

the concepts already explained.
C
onnections between the theoretical background
on MBE
presented and characteristics
of stories as an effective tool are discussed; thus getting a better understanding of how
to use the knowledge of the brain to promote meaningful learning.

As a result of r
eading and analysis,
this

following phrase was built up to

describe
stories as an

instructional tool within the context of

Mind, Brain and E
ducation Science.
This phrase

is not merely a list of
characteristics; one idea builds a
nd adds on the
following
one:



Stories are a meaningful context



where emotions are let in…


building a unique learning environment



that promotes opportunities for involvement



and social
interaction…


thus fostering creativity.




Stories are a
meaningful context



The brain

selectively focuses attention on info
rmation that it recognizes
of
interest value. A story might not help an individual ‘survive’
(though sometimes it might!)
but
it certainly has this other component of being something interesting and meaningful
to child
ren. As regards foreign language development, stories provide a context in
which language is authentically presented and practiced
not as discrete vocabulary
items
thus developing comprehension skills, basis for literacy development.


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All teachers want

students to pay attention,
to ‘select’ as relevant what

is brought

to class

for

them to learn. But sometimes students have no choice:
If their brain does
not find the

activity a relevant or challenging stimulus, it keeps searching for more
‘productive’ in
put.
Although

some students
may
make an e
ffort to focus their attention,

thi
s is not always the case, especially

when teaching young children.
T
his is more of an
automatic mechanism or reaction

in the brain
.
So, this becomes a challenge every day
we go int
o class.

In general, with stories and young children, this reaction is a positive
one: Stories grab children’s attention.


The choice of the appropriate story is a key element to make it a meaningful tool
in the EFL class. Teachers should choose stories t
hat are relevant to students as
well
as age appropriate and a good match for

their level of comprehension. Indeed, it must
be a stor
y that the teacher loves. O
ther characteristics that are important to consider
when choosing a story to teach EFL to
children include repetitive actions and structures,
appealing characters and visual images, and a storyline that is meaningful (something
happens!) and simple (not complex). Finally, stories can be easily adapted to cater the
needs of specific classes. Tea
chers should not hesitate to expand the story by including
more characters, events or dialogues or omit unnecessary ones. In short, the choice of
the story alongside potential adaptations is very important to make it one w
ith interest
value for the kids.


Stories are a meaningful context where
emotions
are let in



One can no longer deny the role emotions play on learning. Learners’ emotions
not only guide their attention and learning but also become implicitly attached to the
experience. It has been sugge
sted that
when the amygdala senses pleasure and
positive emotions, it

conduces information through the li
mbic system to the pre frontal
c
ortex, “home” for cognitive and executive functions
.
This is
again
a reaction, not

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something that the brain consciously decides.
So, joy

is the type of emotion that is
necessary for learning to occur; even more in the first years of instruction of EFL when
we want children to attach a positive imprint to learning a foreign language.


Bri
nging positive emotions into the classroom makes a difference in students’
learning.

When an activity is associated with a positive emotional experience, students
become enga
ged and their brains learn to seek out those activities.
Whenever this joyful
act
ivity is repeated, the same emotion is triggered.
This is what happens with stories:
Children love them and ne
ver get tired of sharing them
!
If teachers plan to include
something
humorous
, a little laughter adds a lot to this positive environment. This
can
come from some character’s funny action or voices used to represent them

and
distinguish one another
. L
earners’ experiences with the foreign language
should

have
this joyful imprint.
Stories are a powerful way to store experiences in the brain.
When
a
story

is

engaging
, relevant

and appropriate, this is likely to occur.
Children can feel
identified with the characters, with their actions or with their feelings:
This experience is
very different to giving children isolated activities or worksheets.
Teach
ers’ priority
should be to make of the learning experiences joyful ones.


Stories are meaningful cont
exts where emotions are let in building

a unique
learning environment



Brains are flexible, they change according to experiences. Nature and nurture
dynamically shape the individual. Learning experiences in a positive non
-
threatening
environment are more effectively recorded and recalled since these allow for the hig
her
thinking part of the brain,
the pre f
rontal cortex,

to work. If learning a foreign
language
appears to be an experience
-
dependant process, the new synaptic connections are
generated in response to the experiences the individual has with it.



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It
is not the same to do it one way or another, to create a positive classroom
environment, to generate different engaging activities or not to do it.
Stories provide
multiple ways in which teachers can make of the learning experience a positive one.
When usi
ng stories in the class as a tool to teach language, students are concentrated
on the story itself, something that is considered a pleasurable activity, rather than the
specific language
items being taught
. This ce
rtainly keeps their anxiety low and positi
ve
emotions “high”.

Humor
has already been mentioned. Also
,

children’s brain is curious
and will attend to changes in the environment. Stories are great in sparkling
curiosity.

The story itself will provide these opportunities. Yet, if teachers plan it pur
posefully, the
effect might be different by making these instances more explicit. For example,
teachers should decid
e on

the
use
of
pauses, prosody, o
r other paralinguistic elements
or even

some parts

of the book

to cover, or other parts where students ca
n make
guesses.
All these elements make students’ attention span something not to worry so
much about.

Including some kind of
novelty

is highly recommended. The brain will pay
attention if something new, different or unexpected is brought into the classroom. Some
stories have this characteristic, which makes them really engaging. Props used in telling
a story provide a unique opportunit
y to exploit novelty and bringing unexpected items
into the class setting. Non
-
specific props can be useful to train symbolic representation:
Children’s ability to imagine that objects can be many things.


Stories are meaningful contexts where emotions ar
e

let in; building

a unique
learning environment that
promotes opportunities for involvement



The brain is a pattern seeking organ, most attuned to information that it
recognizes as patterns or categories it has already formed. Meaning
is assigned to the
incoming stimuli

depending on whether it can match an existing

pattern or activate an
existing

neural network. When information matches and adds to an existing network,

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there is a better chance of paying attention to

it

and getting involved. The links that

can
be made between new information and existing knowledge are useful to make the
incoming stimulus meaningful and for learning to take place. Otherwise, mismatch might
lead to rejection, misinterpretation or ignorance of the incoming stimuli.



The
struct
ure of stories is a
pattern

children

are acquainted with:

There are
characters, a problem, and a solution. Children can easily recognize this
structure

in
which the
y are being exposed to the foreign

language. Other familiar patterns will also
be acti
vated
depending on

the story and how the

teacher decides to present

it, whether
it is
by
reading it or

through storytelling. T
he visual images of the characters, their
voices and actions
, the place where it takes pl
ace, all these make sense to

children
bec
ause they can
relate it to
previous knowledge
,
something that they
already know,
something they
have already stored. Whatever is new will be added to those already
existing patterns. This is why, when the story is too hard, not appropriate, not related to
students’ interest or previous knowledge, the likelihood that they attend and learn is
lower.

T
he story format allows
for
authent
ic
prediction
s
on the story, the characters,
the problem or different solutions. As the story unfolds, these predictions are checked
and confirmed. Teachers should plan when and how to make these predictions explicit
to ma
ke sure

this adds to their meaningful experience.



Practice has a main role in the learning process. It is through practice, rehearsal,
repetition that information can become part of our working memory and then held as
long term memory. Finally, and
ideally, the process might become “automatic.” Learning
consists of reinforcing the connections between neurons.


Children learn by doing, playing, becoming
active participants

in the process.
Working with a story as a tool to teach language involves using different activities after

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reading the story that little by little might lead children to build confidence on the
language used, “experience” the story and make it their own.


When students are provided with activities to
practice

the story, to practice using
the
language of the story, they stimulate and strengthen

the circuits

that support such
learning experiences
. First, they

need to make an effort to remember the phrases i
n the
story. Little by little, with the support of activities and the teacher as mediator, phrases
from the story become more and more familiar. Here
repetition with variation

becomes an important aspect to take into account. Teachers should use different
ways
to practice the story
, its characters or events by

using
sequencing games,

flashcards,
memory
games, charades, freeze,
preparing puppets, or masks.
These activities should
ideally take different forms, considering various learning styles.
Because each

of the
senses has a separate storage area in the brain, multisensory input results in duplicated
storage and can be retrieved by a variety of stimuli. When a new memory, in this case
new language, is linked to a sensation, a movement or an emotion, it tra
vels into the
memory storage along more than one pathway, leading to greater memory retention
and recall
.
In this way, students can feel comfortable practicing in their preferred style
as well as challenged to use some other styles. So, the teacher might p
rovide an activity
that involves movement, another involving flashcards or visual input and finally
one that
focuses on sounds or oral expression.
These activities give students some sense

and

need to practice the story

and the language involved in it
. Th
en, students can easily
recall the phr
ases. Finally, they can use this

language more creatively or apply it in
other situations.

All in all, it

is throughout this process that students

become “owners” of
the story and their

understanding of meaning
of the
foreign language
grows.

Another important consequence of providing several times to practice and
rehearse any new language form, is allowing the neural network to fire “correctly” more
than once. The student, therefore, becomes more confident and motivate
d to ke
ep on
practicing and learning.



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Brainy W
ays to Teach Kids Through Stories

3

4

Stories are meaningful cont
exts where emotions are let in, building

a
unique learning environment that promotes opportunities for involvement and
social interaction



Social and cognitive development are intimately
related.

Throughout life, an
individual’s brain changes and is shaped in response to its experiences and
engagement with others. Therefore, learning is deeply influenced by the social
relationships within which an individual is immersed. As humans, individ
uals can imitate
others, understand them and learn how to interact with each other. Building academic
knowledge involves integrating emotion and cognition in social context. If social
behavior is dynamically shaped; the design of teaching/learning process
cannot
disregard this aspect.


When reading stories or telling them as a tool to teach, there is authentic
social
interaction b
etween the teacher and students, and interaction between students should
be promoted as well.

In storytelling or reading aloud, students can take part and
become active participants through echoing phrases, movements and predicting.
While
sharing the story, instances of interaction among students could be planned for the
predictions by using Think
-
Pair
-
Share technique. Then, when practicing or playing with
the story itself, students are in constant interaction, learning how to take turns, to listen
to others and to share.




Stories are
a meaningful context

where emotions are let in building

a uniq
ue
learning environmen
t
that promotes opportunities for invo
lvement and for social
interaction
thus
foster
ing

creativity
.




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Brainy W
ays to Teach Kids Through Stories

3

5

When compared to traditional tasks, those involving creative thinking appear to
engage more complex neural networks. Abilities such as working memory and
sustained attention are associated with creativity. Artistic expression also
show
s

concept constructio
n and innovation.




If teachers think about a creative production as a final product, this challenging
activity

make
s the practice worthwhile. Practice and rehearsal have an added meaning:
Only through these, students will be able to
make the story their own and
move onto
their more creative production. The language knowledge acquired i
s paired with
imagination,

to come up with something original, meaningful and valuable. Bringing into
the classroom more time to
do

something with what
is being learnt not only encourages
children to become more actively engaged,
but also helps them build deeper
understanding and giv
es them a sense of achievement.




Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program


Maria Laura Fuertes




Brainy W
ays to Teach Kids Through Stories

3

6

STORY KIT
:

A
nansi and the Moss
-
Covered Rock

by Eric A. Kimmel

STORYLINE

TEACHER’S
INTERVENTION

INTRODUCTION


This is a story about Anansi the SPIDER.

One day, Anansi was walking, walking, walking through the forest.


ANANSI. Aha! What’s this?

How Interesting! Isn’t this a strange moss
-
covered rock?


KPOM! KPOM!

Anansi fell down.

An
hour later, she woke up.

Her head was spinning, spinning, spinning
.


Anansi looked at the rock.


She started thinking, thinking, thinking about the rock.


ANANSI. How Interesting! Isn’t this a strange moss
-
covered rock?


K
POM! KPOM! Anansi fell down again.

An hour later, she woke up.

Her head was spinning, spinning, spinning
.


Anansi looked at the rock.


She started thinking, thinking, thinking about the rock.


ANANSI. This is a magic rock!! I have an idea!!




.
Say hi
to Anansi with Ss

.
Always use the same movement for
the spider walking. Ss mime


. Surprised look



. Make “falling down”

funny

. Pause after that

.
Always use the same movement for

waking up and

the head spinning. Ss
mime
.

.
Make a gesture for thinking.

Ss mime

. Surprised look.

.

S
s echo


. Make “falling down”

funny

. Pause after that

. Always use the same movement for
waking up and the head spinning. Ss
mime.

.
Asks Ss How does Anansi feel? SAD?
Say the phrase in sad mood.

ANGRY?
HAPPY? JOYFUL? Ss echo.

EVENT #1


Anansi was walking, walking, walking.

She came to the
RED

house.


ANANSI
. LION lives here!!

He has ONE delicious YAM
.

I like YAMS! Yummy, yummy


Hi!
It’s very hot today! Let’s go for a walk!

LION
. That sounds great!


So, the LION and Anansi

went walking, walking, walking
.


ANANSI
. LION, do you see what I see?

LION
. Oh, Yes! Isn’t th
is a strange moss
-
covered rock?


KPOM! KPOM! LION fell down.

And Anansi rushed, rushed, rushed
and took ONE YAM

to HIS


.
Take out of the bag

the RED

house.
Ask Ss Who lives here? Open one side
of the door. Ss predict.


. T makes reference to the food. Look!
What has he got?

. Make gesture, rub your tummy


. Thumbs up!


.
Always use the same movement for
waking.


. Surprised look.

. Make
“falling down”

funny

. Pause after that

. Make gesture for rushing.

. Place ONE YAM in Anansi’s house.


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Brainy W
ays to Teach Kids Through Stories

3

7

house.

An hour later, LION woke up.

His head was spinning, spinning, spinning.

He went to his house but there were no more YAMS.

He was so saaaaaad.


But Anansi was very happy.

She couldn’t wait to play the trick again.

.
Always use the same movement for
waking up and
the head spinning. Ss
mime
.

. Make a sad face. Ss mime.


. Make a happy face, Ss mine.

EVENT #2


Anansi was walking, walking, walking.

She came to the BLUE house.


ANANSI
.
ELEPHANT lives here!!


He has TWO

delicious BANANAS.



I

like BANANAS!


Hi!
It’s very hot today! Let’s go for a walk!

ELEPHANT.
That sounds great!


So, the ELEPHANT and Anansi

went walking, walking, walking
.


ANANSI.

ELEPHANT, do you see what I see?

ELEPHANT.
Oh, Yes! Isn’t this a strange moss
-
covered rock?


KPOM! KPOM! ELEPHANT fell down.

And Anansi rushed, rushed, rushed and took
TWO
BANANAS.

An hour later, ELEPHANT woke up.

His head was spinning, spinning, spinning.

He went to his house but there were no more BANANAS.

He was so saaaaaad.


But Anansi was very happy.

She couldn’t wait to play the trick again.



. Take out of the bag the BLUE

house.
Ask Ss Who lives here? Open one side
of the door. Ss predict.


. T makes reference to the food. Look!
What has he got?

. Make gesture, rub your tummy

. Thumbs up!


. Always use the same movement for
waking.


. Surprised look.


. Make “falling dow
n”

funny

. Pause after that

. Make gesture for rushing.

. Place the TWO BANANAS

in Anansi’s
house.

.
Always use the same movement for
waking up and
the head spinning. Ss
mime
.

. Make a sad face. Ss mime.

. Make a happy face, Ss mine.

EVENT #3


Anansi was walking, walking, walking.

She came to the YELLOW house.


ANANSI.

The RHINO lives here!!


He has
THREE delicious W
ATERMELONS.



I like WATERMELONS!

Hi!
It’s very hot today! Let’s go for a walk!

RHINO.
That
sounds great!


So, the RHINO and Anansi went walking, walking, walking
.




. Take out of
the bag the YELLOW

house. Ask Ss Who lives here? Open
one side of the door. Ss predict.

. T makes reference to the food. Look!
What has he got?

. Make gesture, rub your tummy


. Thumbs up!


. Always use

the same movement for
waking.


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Brainy W
ays to Teach Kids Through Stories

3

8

ANANSI.

RHINO, do you see what I see?

RHINO.
Oh, Yes! Isn’t this a strange moss
-
covered rock?


KPOM! KPOM! RHINO fell down.

And Anansi rushed,

rushed, rushed
and took the THREE

WATERMELONS.

An hour later, RHINO woke up.

His head was spinning, spinning,
spinning.

He went to his house but there were no more WATERMELONS.

He was so saaaaaad.


But Anansi was very happy.

She couldn’t wait to play the trick again.

. Surprised look.



.
Make “falling down”

funny

. Pause after that

. Make gesture for rushing.

. Place the THREE WATERMELONS

in
Anansi’s house.

.
Always use the same movement for
waking up and
the head spinning. Ss
mime
.

. Make a sad face. Ss mime.


. Make a happy face.

Ss mine.

EVENT #4


Anansi was walking, walking, walking.

She came to the GREEN house.


ANANSI.

HIPPO lives here!!


He has FOUR

delicious PINEAPPLES.


I like PINEAPPLES!


Hi!
It’s very hot today! Let’s go for a
walk!

HIPPO.
That sounds great!


So, the HIPPO and Anansi
went walking, walking, walking.



ANANSI.

HIPPO, do you see what I see?

HIPPO.
Oh, Yes! Isn’t this a strange moss
-
covered rock?


KPOM! KPOM! HIPPO fell down.

And Anansi rushed,

rushed, rushed and took the FOUR

PINEAPPLES.

An hour later, HIPPO woke up.

His head was spinning, spinning, spinning.

He went to his house but there were no more PINEAPPLES.

He was so saaaaaad.



But Anansi was very happy.

She couldn’t wait to play t
he trick again.





. Take out of the bag the GREEN

house. Ask Ss Who lives here? Open
one side of the door. Ss predict.

. T makes reference to the food. Look!
What has he got?

. Make gesture, rub your tummy


. Thumbs up!


. Always use the same movement for
waking.


. Surprised look.


. Make “falling down”

funny

. Pause after that

. Make gesture for rushing.

. Place the THREE WATERMELONS

in
Anansi’s house.

.
Always use the same movement for
waking up and
the head
spinning. Ss
mime
.

. Make a sad face. Ss mime.

. Make a happy face, Ss mine.


Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program


Maria Laura Fuertes




Brainy W
ays to Teach Kids Through Stories

3

9

EVENT #5


Anansi was walking, walking, walking.


She came to the PURPLE house.


ANANSI. The ZEBRA lives here!!


She has FIVE delicious TOMATOES.



I like TOMATOES!


Hi!

It’s very hot today! Let’s go for
a walk!

ZEBRA. That sounds great!


So, the ZEBRA and Anansi went walking, walking, walking.


ANANSI. ZEBRA, do you see what I see?

ZEBRA. Oh, Yes! Isn’t this a strange
moss
-
covered rock?


KPOM! KPOM! ZEBRA fell down.

And Anansi rushed, rushed, rushed and took the FIVE TOMATOES.

An hour later, ZEBRA woke up.

Her head was spinning, spinning, spinning.

She went to his house but there were no more TOMATOES.

She was so s
aaaaaad.


But Anansi was very happy.

She couldn’t wait to play the trick again.