September 03, 2014 04:38 UTC

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These Pirates Help Children Learn to Write

A Story Pirates performance in New York City in February
A Story Pirates performance in New York City in February


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This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

A group called Story Pirates goes into schools and performs shows for children. But these shows are based on stories written by the children themselves. The grown-ups are there to help them become better writers.

The Story Pirates are active in more than two hundred schools across the United States. Their method is designed to help children learn about the purpose and structure of writing.

Actors and teachers known as teacher-artists help students write stories. The children feel the pride of ownership in their work and may get to see their story performed.

About two hundred actors and teachers are members of the Story Pirates. It was founded in two thousand three. The group is based in Los Angeles and also has performers on the East Coast.

The basic program is called the Idea Storm. It involves two visits to a school.

On the first visit, the teachers and actors hold a writing workshop at a student assembly. They help students express their ideas. Benjamin Salka, the group's chief executive officer, says they work with children to "open up" their imaginations. But that is only part of the process.

BENJAMIN SALKA: "We work with them on the actual craft and structure of writing. In other words, Story Pirates is not just a creativity and self-esteem-building program. It is a writing program. And we focus on elements of structure and style as broad as conflict and creative conflict resolution, and as minute as grammar."

He says they work with students to rewrite and shape their story to improve it. The goal is a final product that can express the ideas that were in the writer's head. All the children get comments and suggestions on their work.

After about a month, the Story Pirates return to the school. This time, they perform the stories that they have chosen and prepared for the stage. They sing, dance, tell jokes, use puppets -- whatever they can do to make the experience fun.

A more extensive program can be found at the Bronx Charter School for the Arts in New York City. Ann Ledo is arts director for the school, where most of the students are black or Latino and many come from poor families. Ms. Ledo says the work of the actors is an important part of the children's education.

ANN LEDO:"As a school that has a focus on the arts, we bring the Story Pirates in to further our students' experience and understanding of academic content."

Some educators may think of the importance currently placed on testing in schools, and wonder how they can measure the effects of a program like this. But Ann Ledo praises the results.

ANN LEDO:  "It really is a magical  moment when the kids see their stories come to life."

And that's the VOA Special English Education Report, written by Jerilyn Watson. I'm Christopher Cruise.

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by: PhuongLe
04/10/2012 12:12 AM
I have read this paper more times and carefully because I feel really interesting with this subject. The idea comes from the story privates of child will be performed by themselves with the helps and suggestions of many actors and teachers. I wish this project could be done in my country in the future and I also wish have chance to participate the program like this!


by: Sue
03/27/2012 3:19 PM
This is a new change that we can give to our children, is a new opportunity to all the people, change minds of these children and parents will be the most important key to change the world, I am agree with this new way to discuss how to increase knowledge, learning, dancing laughing and studying at the same time. congrats to the people whom are participating in this project.


by: Sherry
03/24/2012 10:46 AM
In our school ,we also has this kind of activities,but we write and perform by ourself.


by: trungle
03/19/2012 10:35 AM
it is great program. i hope in my home having the same program. In my country pupils really need this program to lend them a hand to improve their writing skills. Creative writing and expressive essays there are two goals this program will be successful.


by: Josue Aguilar
03/18/2012 8:44 PM
First of all, i want to thank to all the VOA staff to make this page and help all of us who we want to improve our Enlish.

Story pirates, good name of the group by the way, and is very interesting the proposit they have with children to make in some way devolop the ability they might have, or even make an initiation of what a child will be on no longer of the present...like a singer... or somthing else, but getting from those activities wich will be apreciated one day...


by: Doojung Kim in Korea
03/17/2012 11:55 PM
It is impressive in this time, when uniform common curriculum and teaching is a trend in the USA.


by: mrtran
03/17/2012 4:10 PM
This is a good idea for students and development of students


by: Hans
03/17/2012 9:00 AM
How amazing it is. In fact, I also want to take part in this kind of activity. It is not only an interesting way for children to learn writing but also a decent way to get the sense of achievement. When you see your composition is on the stage, the feelings is beyond description, isn't it?


by: Alex Smith
03/16/2012 12:54 PM
We have done 50 present of high quality of project. The system is very open for future. The salary is under the question? Likin.


by: Jean
03/15/2012 8:15 PM
I praise programs like this one. It not only encourages students to express their thoughts and creativity, but also enlarges their interests in studying. I could imagine how excited the students are when they see their stories come true.

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