Wednesday, October 30, 2013

WWW: Lining Up Your Family's Story

Good News: The Word is out that this coming Friday, November 1 is National Family Literacy Day.
(If it hasn't reached you yet, click here to read my Monday TeachingAuthors post.)
Even Better News: all of November celebrates Family Literacy.

What better way to celebrate (1) families, (2) reading and (3) writing than to celebrate families actively reading and writing together?!
Parents and grandparents, educators, librarians, state Centers for the Book and booksellers are doing just that in this event the National Center for Family Literacy has sponsored since 1994.

All sorts of ongoing activities accommodate the Reading Together part: Read-a-thons, Read-alouds, Reading Exchanges, even Reading Recordings.

And all sorts of ongoing activities accommodate the Writing Together part, many of which feature the collective telling of a family’s story.

Of course, each of our family stories is unique, with its own cast of characters in a variety of settings over a known period of time, its multitude of memorable scenes lovingly realized (think occasions, celebrations, life-and-death events, seminal moments, ups-and-downs and benchmarks.)

Just as unique are the possible ways to tell our family stories.
Picture albums.
Even diaries and journals.
Family trees.
Geneology travels.
My August 23 TeachingAuthors post about Story Corps
offers links to question generators storytellers can use when interviewing family members.
It also notes the November 29 day-after-Thanksgiving National Day of Listening, when family stories are shared.

It was Facebook’s newest profile offering – Timeline – that got me thinking.
Why not limn our family’s stories, using the time-honored learning tool we first learned in Kindergarten and fine-tuned as we worked our way to and through high school: the time-line!

(For images of time-line possibilities, click here.)

Enjoy! Enjoy!

Esther Hershenhorn

                                             * * * * * * *

Creating a Family Time-line

Limning your family’s story involves focus, thoughtful questions and organization.

(1)   Define and know the family you’re limning.

(2)  Choose your cast of characters.

(3)  Consider and boundary the time-line’s beginning and end.

(4)   Choose your Focus.

Family history?
            Family travels?
            Family accomplishments?
            Family Smiles and Tears?
            Comings and Goings?
            All of the above?

(5)  Choose events that show action that supports the focus and thus  TELLS A STORY.  (Think scenes that build; think plot.)

       Possibilities to consider:
             Life-and-death events
             Seminal Moments
             Highs and Lows
             Ups and Downs
             Unforgettable Moments
             Wins and Losses

(6)  Choose how you will represent the markings.
              Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down
              Stick figures
              Text bubbles
              The sky’s the limit!

(7)  Align your concrete details vertically, horizontally, diagonally, however-you-choose!

Have fun! Imprint your style!  The more hands and heads and hearts involved, the merrier the process, the truer the story.

And, who’s to say you cannot complete this exercise to immerse yourself in the lives of your fictional characters?   J  

For those teachers needing a tried-and-true easy-to-follow classroom activity, click here for Portland, Oregon teacher Jaime R. Wood’s offering.


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