Student teachers go to school with sacks full of stories

Published 02 June 2008

schoolvisit.jpgFirst-year students in the University of New England’s Bachelor of Education (Primary) degree program have had their first experience of classroom teaching.

They delighted a kindergarten class at Sandon Primary School in Armidale with stories they told with the aid of books and props they drew out of artistically-created “sacks”.

Each of the UNE students had made a “storysack”, decorated on the outside in such a way as to introduce an imaginary world within. That world centred on a high-quality picture book for young children. As well as the book itself, each sack contained a selection of toys and props to help the children bring the story to life, a game connected with the story, a CD of the student reading it, and a non-fiction book providing background and context for the story book.

Kim Porter, who teaches the UNE students “English pedagogy in the primary curriculum”, also teaches at Sandon. She said the success of the “storysacks” had been evident by “the joy on the children’s faces”. “They were just in awe of it all,” she said.

Ms Porter explained that “storysacks” had originated in England in the early 1990s, and were now used throughout the UK and in 60 other countries. Introduced to UNE several years ago by Dr Corinne Buckland, a lecturer in UNE’s School of Education, the storytelling technique has proved popular with students of primary education, who have used it in classrooms throughout the State when on practicum.

“‘Storysacks’ help teachers to use books more effectively in the classroom,” Ms Porter said. “They allow children to retell a story using a range of props, and the non-fiction book introduces them at an early age to the difference between fiction and non-fiction.”

“The process of designing the ‘storysacks’ really brought out the creativity in the students,” she said. “And they thought it was wonderful – after all their hard work in preparing the ‘storysacks’ – to share them with the children in the classroom and to evaluate their effectiveness.”

THE PHOTOGRAPH displayed here shows UNE student teacher Lassalienne Pilgrim during the visit to Sandon Primary School.