Storytelling: Writers' Workshop Learning Center

Overview and Objectives

Overview and Objectives

Developed by the ECHO Storytelling Curriculum Committee, 2006

This is one of a series of storytelling lessons. This lesson asks visitors to draw on their understanding of different types of narratives to inspire and enrich their own storytelling. It is based on three other lessons that introduce students to narrative traditions and storytelling from Alaska, Hawaii, and other cultures through work with varied narratives, objects, and performance.


Visitors to this Learning Center will:

  • Create original stories; share them with others orally and in writing, employing language arts practices such as pre-writing (gathering and organizing experiences), drafting, revising collaboratively, polishing and presenting work
  • Experience stories from a range of cultures and recognize both the commonalities and distinctions in styles and motifs of storytelling
  • Begin to identify key aspects of narratives, such as character, setting, action, conflict, and resolution
  • Begin to gain understanding of audience, author, and viewpoint in the context of narrative

Why are stories important?

Understanding and creating narratives is a fundamental literacy skill. It is also a universal human activity. When students work with written texts, recite or listen to stories, or present narratives through non-verbal means, such as art or dance, they are learning to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate their world. Teachers can build rewarding experiences for students that activate their natural love for and interest in stories. They can do this in a way that expands children's fluency and confidence with language, as well as their respect for the rich diversity of narrative approaches and language use across cultures. As students experience narratives from different cultures, they gain perspectives on people and stories in worlds that may be unfamiliar. This will be valuable to students in many ways, for example by helping them bring a sense of perspective to their own culture and stories.

One theme woven through the storytelling lessons is the diverse nature and form of narratives. All of the narratives presented in these lessons draw on the great range and variety of stories related to cultural resources available to teacher and student alike. Remember that although the term "narrative" is frequently applied to written texts and oral stories, narratives may also be inherent in a painting, a dance, an object, or a historical record.

To check out more storytelling lesson plans, go to the following Learning Centers:

Storytelling: Tales of Everyday Life Lesson Plan

Storytelling: Performance and Art Lesson Plan

Storytelling: Oral Traditions Lesson Plan

Preparation and Materials

Preparation and Materials

Grade Level: 4-6

Suggested Time

  • One to two class periods

Multimedia Resources


  • White board or chart paper

Before the Lesson

  • Review all materials carefully. Make adjustments to the lesson as needed to meet your specific goals for your class.

Using Journals

If you will be doing more than one storytelling lesson with your students, it may be helpful to have them use a journal to record their notes and complete their assigned writings. Electronic journals may also be used. When using either printed or electronic journals, integrate the handouts and assignments so that all the written material produced by the students can be kept in one place and be available for reference from one lesson to the next.

The Lesson

The Lesson

Part I: Storytelling Refresher

1. Tell students that they will now begin to work on their own stories. First, review the elements of good storytelling (you might want to look through other Learning Centers in the Storytelling series for this information). To prompt students write these questions on chart paper or the board:

   a. What makes a good story?
   b. How do personal events relate to stories?
   c. How can stories be told with few or no words?

In a large group, discuss the questions to help students refresh their understanding of different types of stories. You might want to refer back to the relevant multimedia resources. If students have completed worksheets or journals in other Storytelling Learning Centers, have them refer to them.

Part II: Writing Your Story

2. Have students begin to work on their stories. They should choose any story ideas that interest them, but their final story will need to include the key elements of good storytelling, such as characters, a problem to solve, a resolution, and a setting. Depending on which storytelling lessons you have already done, you could also encourage students to focus on personal events and/or include components that are told without words or dialogue.

Check for Understanding

Check for Understanding

After students have worked on their stories for 20-30 minutes, ask them to exchange what they have done with a peer. Ask each student to look at his or her partner's story, sharing observations and questions based on the following list of questions:

  1. Does the story have a beginning, middle, and end?
  2. Who is the main character?
  3. What is the setting?
  4. What big events occur?
  5. What is the problem to solve?
  6. How does the problem get solved?
  7. What did I learn from it?
  8. What do I still wonder about?

After exchanging feedback with their peers, students should continue to work on their stories. At the end of the day, ask students to continue to complete their stories as homework. Set a deadline for when stories should be completed and handed in. You may choose to read some of the stories aloud. To assess students' progress, ask listeners how they might extend what they have learned about stories through this experience, and what story topics they might explore next.

Academic Standards

Academic Standards

National English Language Arts Standards

  • Standard 3: Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts.
  • Standard 4: Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g. conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • Standard 9: Students develop an understanding of and respect for diversity in language use, patterns, and dialects across cultures, ethnic groups, geographic regions, and social roles.

State Academic Standards

Each state has adapted the national academic standards to its own needs and population. To find a listing of standards in your state, visit the Education World web site.