This post is by Haneen Jadalla, teacher at Asma Prep girls UNRWA school, Gaza
It’s the start of a very beautiful day and the sun spills its rays on the crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean, declaring a new beginning , new hopes to be spread from the horizon and piles of wishes to touch the clouds above.
Meanwhile, a rich – deep voice starts to tell not breaking news nor a scientific fact but – a story . This story melts the hearts of the people who are listening and empowers them to face the hardships of life. Story telling is the art that merges the acts of mind and the acts of heart. It’s how you put your body , your soul and emotions in the context of language.
As schools in Palestine are closed because of Corona virus, The Hands Up Project has recently launched daily facebook live storytelling sessions for kids to take part in in their own homes. Here, in this blog post, I would like to talk about the real impact of these storytelling sessions on English language learners at this very challenging time.
I believe that learning can happen at any place and at any time irrespective of all the obstacles which are placed in their way. When children are free from the classroom walls, from rules, from marks , from pens and pencils, maybe they can travel even more easily by their imagination with the story telling sessions far away. They live the actions of the stories in their mind, smell the aromatic scents of the scenes as if they are really with them, and hear the music in their own silence to cheer their spirits in spite of all the hard times they pass through.
Learning through online stories and being exposed to different styles of storytellers can be immensely effective for the students – maybe even more so than what happens in their regular classes. They learn how to how to use language functionally, and how to be creative and brilliant with it at the same time. Its also about sharing and discussing values, gathering all together and feeling united, sharing cultural aspects and even creating a future generation of story tellers . Moreover , it is a kind of survival for those learners wherever they are. It helps them to escape from being stuck at home in self – isolation to a more motivating international cultural context.
At the end of each live session the volunteers suggest tasks for the kids to do as a follow up. This could be creating their own videos as a kind of reflection on the stories that have been told, re-telling the story, creating a chant to practise the language or even singing their favourite English song. Getting students to create things in English is the ultimate goal we wish to achieve with our language learners. It practices new language but also makes their voices heard loudly and clearly all over the world.
I strongly believe that the hands up project has succeeded in helping these kids to survive every challenge that life throws at them. It helps them put their their hands up high to celebrate their glory while telling them a story.
Haneen Jadalla, teacher at Asma Prep girls UNRWA school, Gaza, March 2020