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Teachers, Students Invited to Storytelling Conference

KEENE, N.H. 1/31/03 New York city elementary teacher and author Theda Detlor, who uses folklore in the classroom as a way to promote childrens creative and critical thinking and writing, will be one of five professionals to offer workshops at Telling Tales in School, the 12th annual New England Conference on Storytelling for Children, to be held at Keene State College on Saturday, April 12.

The workshops are for teachers, parents, and anyone else who enjoys sharing stories with children, said Mary Mayshark-Stavely, a teacher in the Child Development Center at KSC and the events organizer. A public storytelling session by conference presenters will begin at 3 p.m. All activities will be held in the Redfern Arts Center on Brickyard Pond.

The conference will begin at 9 a.m. with a keynote address by Detlor titled Teaching Creative and Critical Thinking about Social Issues through Folklore. Detlor, a former dancer who teaches second grade at the Dalton School in New York City, has written two books presenting her elementary school folklore curriculum A Fresh Look at Fairy Tales: An Integrated Unit Exploring Gender Bias in Classic Tales and Teaching with Aesops Fables and her curriculum has been featured in Rethinking Rumpelstiltskin in Disney Online. During her afternoon workshop, Creating Movement from Folklore, Detlor will demonstrate techniques participants can use to develop creative- movement pieces with children based on folklore.

Other workshop leaders and topics include Onawumi Jean Moss (The Little Story That Makes People Talk and Talk and Talk), Michael Parent (Using Stories as a Cultural Gateway), Sydelle Pearl (From Horses to Unicorns: How Storytelling and Imagination Games Lead Children to Write), Sarah Pirtle (Common Roots: Telling the Story of the Universe and the Earth and Linking Up: Story Song Games to Build Connection to the Earth and Each Other), and Robert Smyth (Storytelling Resources.)

Moss, who is associate dean of students at Amherst College and has often been a featured teller at the National Association of Black Storytellers Conference, will introduce participants to the creation of cautionary tales appropriate for grades K12 and beyond. In her session, Moss will explore provocative African dilemma tales, told to inspire thoughtful discussions that lead to an improved quality of life in the family and community.

Parent, a former English teacher will help participants enhance their own storytelling skills, using techniques that can be passed on to students. In his workshop, Parent will discuss the benefits of teaching students these skills and will explore some simple, direct approaches to teaching about various cultures through the use of stories. Parent has performed as a storyteller and singer at many events, including the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tenn. He won the National Storytelling Network’s Circle of Excellence Award in 1999.

In her workshop, Pearl, a storyteller and author, will present a model of sparking the creativity of children in grades three to six, based on a storytelling foundation of writing and imagination activities. A former outreach childrens librarian, Pearl is the author of Elijah’s Tears.

Sarah Pirtle, a musician, storyteller and eco-peace educator, will offer two workshops. In her morning session, she will demonstrate how storytelling can be used to teach science by telling a story about the universe and the earth in a style that incorporates song, poetry, and movement. In her afternoon session, Pirtle will share six contrasting activities that develop cooperation skills by placing children inside a shared narrative. Pirtle is nationally known as an expert in teaching social skills through expressive arts. She has received five awards for her childrens tapes and CDs and is the author of An Outbreak of Peace, which received the Olive Branch Award for the outstanding book on world peace.

Smyth, who runs Yellow Moon Press, a storytelling publishing company and bookstore that produces storytelling books, tapes, and CDs, will answer questions about storytelling resources and producing books, tapes, and CDs.

The conference fee of $60 includes all workshop materials and admission to the public storytelling presentation. College students may attend for half-price. Students in grades six and above are invited to register for the day-long event. Small groups of these students accompanied by chaperones will be admitted at a reduced price.

For additional information or registration materials, contact Mary Mayshark- Stavely, acting director of the Child Development Center at Keene State, at 603-358-2232, by mail at Keene State College, 229 Main Street, Keene, NH 03435-2503. or by e-mail at The web address is storytelling.

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229 Main Street
Keene, New Hampshire 03435