Monday, May 2, 2011

The Power of the Spoken Word

First day back at school and we were immediately thrown into it! It is 'Book Week' at our school this week - one of the most delightful times ever as far as I am concerned! From visiting authors, illustrators and storytellers to character parades, teachers' fave story sessions, 'guess my fave book' to Clifford the Big Red Dog! It is always a wonderfully anticipated week and the children arrived this morning eager to make the most it!

We started off the week by reminding me of the power of the spoken word. Apparently, statistics show that an image is 10,000 times more powerful in how we retain information as children compared to the details of the written word. What about the power of the spoken word?

Stu Duval, artist/illustrator/storyteller, came into school and blew our classes away (as always!) with his humour and wonderful command of the most delicious language sequences ever strung together in a story! Couple this with great vocal play, funky scene-setting music and the ability to take chalk and create a masterpiece and you have...well, you actually have your own little piece of magic in a morning!

I asked my class to recount the tale of 'Rat Island' and most of them were able to recount fantastic amounts of detail. But...when I asked them to DRAW the story it became even more interesting! Many of them talked and talked about the story but were unable to draw the details that they longed to add!

My own daughter reminded me today though that we could actually remove all of the pomp and ceremony around the story as she was able to retell the entire 45 minute tale from Stu back to our family with no problem at all! She is accustomed to listening to me tell stories and read stories - every time I go to a movie I am forced to recount EVERY detail to my kids so they are very used to forming their own visual imagery around a story.

Let's remember that the longest remembered tales from 1,000's of years ago were originally told from generation to generation and this is how they survived. Perhaps among all of the amazing technologies and devices that we possess and utilise, we need to remember the wonderful power of the spoken word - we can use VoiceThread, iMovie and other cloud based applications to allow our less able writers and more reluctant artists to communicate a story in a very powerful way - the way of the word. We can give a voice to many of our students for whom the written word is a real challenge if only we use the technologies and the power of the spoken word.

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