By Linda Hagood
Three students from Washington State School for the Blind (WSSB) share their experiences with storytelling.
Gabe Discusses Storytelling
Gabe, who is totally blind, has been co-creating stories with me and a few different peers for about three years, as he recalls in this interview. One of the favorite characters he mentions in this story is “Yet,” who is a naughty girl who “hasn’t learned to behave…YET.” It is interesting that he places himself in the “Yet stories” as a helper, who can guide her to better behavior. In reality, many of the problems that Yet has with her behavior are similar to the problems Gabe has experienced with his own behavior. Another story he mentions in the discussion is about a boy who refuses to take a shower–this is an issue which he has personally experienced, and I believe that writing that story helped him to acknowledge the reasons for showering through the playful interchanges with his peer, Owen, in the context of Playing with Words activities; verbal explanations may not have been enough.
Another student, who is also totally blind, came to the Playing with Words sessions joyfully. She loves having a context for using her imagination, focusing on fairies and woodland creatures, and has made good progress in accepting and incorporating a peer’s ideas from Alex, a totally blind middle school student who is more interested in incorporating technology topics into their stories. I think their comments here reflect the importance of self-determination, as well as their delight in having a context where it’s okay to break the rules, discussing topics like “hot snot”. I think they got this concept from some figurative language they heard others using (“He thinks he’s hot snot!”), but created a literal “mountain of hot snot” during a week when everyone in their class had horrible colds and used an abundance of Kleenex. I introduced them to the Hindu god Ganesha as the elephant character who is a remover of obstacles, and it’s interesting that Alex remembered him when describing enjoyable characters in the story. His Moto character belongs to his favorite device, a Motorola phone that says, “Hello Moto” when he turns it on.
Alex Discusses Storytelling
Garrett Discusses Storytelling
Letters from Students
One day when I was out recently, some of my students wrote (or dictated) these letters to me: