look no book
oracy into literacy, 2nd language Welsh through storytelling and creativity training for teachers
Look no Book is a simple and effective, low-tech, way to boost Foundation Stage, KS1 and KS2 pupils' language abilities using storytelling as the core skill. From there a virtuous circle of enjoyment, challenge and fulfillment is established that immediately effects pupils' listening skills, comprehension, retention and writing skills across the ability spectrum. There are no expensive resources to buy into. You, your pupils, the classroom and whatever is in the cupboard is all you need to start. The approach works equally well for first language work and, with certain modifications, for the teaching of Welsh as a second language.
I am a professional storyteller with over twenty years experience. I work throughout the UK as well as internationally. I have been awarded a Major Creative Wales Award as well as a BASE award for storytelling excellence and am one of the few UK based storytellers to have worked at the National Storytelling Festival in the USA. I have A BA(Hons) in English and Philosophy from Nottingham University and a BEd (Hons) from Cardiff University in Vocational Training. I have taught teachers how to use storytelling in their classroom for many years and am regularly invited to lecture in Universities
Oracy into Literacy
Books are lovely things but the moment you put one down and just tell the story you enter a rich, enjoyable and educationally incredibly useful realm. Orally told stories become the listeners' experience in a very direct way. The characters in the story, their lives and challenges genuinely matter to those who listen which gives them the impetus to carry on with the follow-up work. The challenges of writing become minor obstacles to overcome in order to get the story down on paper.
Oral storytelling is a fluid and subtle medium and because you're not telling from a script you can shape the story in order to address specific issues such as use of connectives, dialogue and use of descriptive and action based writing. The natural variations in the telling of the story effectively model the variation and innovation pupils need for their own creative writing.
I encourage a participatory storytelling style including signing connectives and the use of simple pictures for second language acquisition. Once the teachers have told the story to the class a couple of times the pupils are ready to tell in small groups and pairs and they soon grow in confidence and ability. Once the pupils have mastered the story they are ready to expand and adapt the material to boost their learning either in oracy and literacy or in their use of the Welsh language. See the video below of Pembroke Dock Community School who used this method to vastly improve the attainment in Welsh after successfully implementing storytelling based strategies with me in English.
I typically work with a school over a period of an academic year coming in for a day twice a term, towards the beginning of each half term. I spend half the day with KS1 staff and the other half with KS2. By the end of each session participating teachers will have watched me telling the story live, learned and practiced it and told it in pairs. I prepare a storytelling blog which includes a recording of me telling the story live, an adaptable script of the story for Welsh second language work, and copies of any pictures required. The stories are a mixture of traditional stories and original ones in traditional form. I create stories for individual schools so that other subject areas and themes are also being covered by our storytelling work.
Storytelling for Welsh Second Language
Pembroke Dock Community School won the people's prize for the Shwmae! Sir Benfro awards following a period of teacher training using Look No Book methods. The school's delivery of Welsh second language was singled out as an area of considerable improvement in their recent Estyn report, an essential part of which the headteacher believes to be the Look No Book training. They are still using the stories I taught them to great effect.
Welsh second language in Pembroke Dock Community School
Creativity Training for Teachers
With the increasing demand for creative teaching and learning skills as the Lead Creative Schools scheme extends through Welsh schools in preparation for the introduction of the new curriculum so there is a need for teachers to be able to deliver education creatively. I offer training days for teachers which will help them develop their own creative skills and confidence in order to facilitate their students' own creativity. The sessions are available to schools, local authorities, Regional Education Consortia and any body responsible for the delivery of creative learning and teaching.
Teachers cannot introduce creativity into the classroom without seeing themselves as creative. The workshops help teachers understand practically how and when they are creative and how to give the best stimulation for the groups they work with as well as create the surroundings most likely to promote the creativity of others.
The focus is practical and will include time for discussion about how creativity can be promoted in schools drawing on the group's experience and expertise