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The Stories of Us Curriculum

Storytelling x LINC Curriculum - Week 4

Objectives:

  • To paint a detailed and holistic picture of participants’ first few weeks of settling in Canada.
  • To allow students an opportunity to reflect on a time in their lives that may have felt chaotic and process the progress that they’ve made since. 

Session Flow:

  • Oral Storytelling Circle (full class, in small groups, or in partners)
    • Example Prompt: Describe one of the best gifts you’ve ever received. Why was it one of the best?
  • My First Few Weeks in Canada Writing Prompts (Individual)
  • My First Few Weeks in Canada Shareback (full class, in small groups, or in partners) 

Activity Templates:

  • See My First Few Weeks in Canada Writing Prompts below

Facilitator Notes

  • Teachers might encounter some resistance from students, along the lines of, “That was a hard/bad time in my life, what’s the point of thinking about those times again?” In these moments, it can be useful to share that sometimes remembering the past can help us appreciate how far we have come and the challenges we have overcome. Additionally, if the students are interested in publishing their stories as a part of The Stories of Us library, sharing their experiences about when they first came to Canada can help normalize the experience for other newcomers and make them feel less alone. Ultimately, it is up to the student to decide whether they want to participate in the writing exercise and to what extent.
  • Students may find that they have more to say about their first few weeks in Canada, beyond what the question prompts ask of them. The prompts are meant to serve as a guide so as to not overwhelm students, but they are welcome to include details that aren’t explicitly asked for in the prompts.
  • Students have a tendency to gloss over key details of their experience because they don’t feel that they are important (e.g. one student didn’t include that she was a police officer in her country!) or because they may not fully grasp that the readers of their story know nothing about them to begin with. The question prompts are designed to elicit multiple dimensions of a newcomer’s experience (e.g. What were they seeing? What were they hearing? What did they do/think/feel? What were they hoping for? What did they fear?) so as to build empathy for the author from the readers of their stories. To explain the importance of including details to students, teachers can use the analogy of the most compelling actors in movies. The reason they are so effective is because they make us feel what they feel. We understand them and their situations so deeply that we are invested in what happens to them. The same rings true for the stories that we write about ourselves. What are the details we need to include to help the reader understand why we did/thought/felt what we did?
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