Stories Come to Life Literacy Residency-Final Presentations at Neal Middle School

The students’ and Visiting Artists’ hard work at Neal Middle School culminated in wonderful presentations on the final day of the Stories come to Life Literacy Residencies with artists Willa Brigham, John Bemis, and Anita Woodley.

Action-packed stories about adventures, car races, robotic arms, and ghosts filled the classroom that John Bemis was teaching in. Bemis and Ms. Mullaney, the classroom teacher, both read the students’ stories out loud so that the students could better hear what their words sounded like through the voice of another person. After each story, they discussed what could be improved and talked about the importance of editing and sharing. Bemis emphasized the various narrative effects of 1st, 2nd and 3rd person, and the different tenses (past, present, and even future) that one could utilize depending on the type of story he/she was telling.

Willa Brigham’s classes, as to be expected, were all about the elements of a descriptive story. The stories focused on the students’ favorite meals.  Of course, when you ask 6th graders what their favorite meals are you’re bound to get some interesting responses, not excluding a tilapia soup that a young man claimed would make anyone, after one bite, want to eat more of his scrumptious creation.  Spiced mac n cheese seemed to be another favorite. After students presented their favorite meals, Brigham encouraged them to continue pushing their stories further, asking for synonyms and other details that would call on readers’ sense of taste, smell, touch, sight, and sound. My appetite grew two-fold after leaving that class!

The last classes to have their presentations were Anita Woodley’s classes. Students sat with their chairs in circular formation, which instantly created a refreshing and more comfortable classroom ambiance.  The students all shared personal narratives that they wrote. One student shared an exciting play-by-play of a football game, while another student shared a poignant story about her relationship with her brother who died at 7 years old.  Each story was unique with a different mood and flare; the students truly seemed to find their “inner story-teller,” as Ms. Kersey, one of the sixth grade teachers at Neal to host a CAPS artist, noted at the end of the Residency.

The Stories Come to Life Literacy Residency was successful in helping all students realize that the stories they have are worth sharing and providing them with the tools through which they could tell compelling stories.

Check out their stories here: Final BOOK – Neal Middle School Students 2-2014

‘Stories Come to Life Literacy Residency’ with Neal Middle School’s 6th grade students was made possible through the generous support of the Southwest Durham Rotary Club, Neal Middle School and contributions made to the Durham Arts Council Annual Arts Fund.