Share the love of short stories: lucky-dip stories at your school

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When I read about the fabulous Short Story Dispenser by French publisher Short Edition, I imagined how wonderful it would be for each school to have their own short story dispensing machine. Then, as I was walking along a corridor of my own school, I noticed that there is a designated wall where students can leave their artwork, which that day was mostly photos and illustrations. I started wondering how many schools might have similar boards or walls for students which could be used for sharing not only visual arts, but also stories.

Papyrus – Enfants Musée Café Zoetrope
by Caroline de Cuverville © Short Edition

During our language lessons we often ask students to write stories, poems and many other text types, which are often only read by the teachers. It would be entertaining and motivating to share some of these stories with the whole class or school on a regular basis, and students would have a real target audience and purpose for their writing. Inspired by Short Edition’s creative initiative, we invite you to create short story spots in your schools to spread the love of reading and writing stories.

The original idea

Visit the website of Short Edition to read about their project. Each Short Story Dispenser gives the readers stories for free at the push of a button. People can choose 1-, 3- and 5-minute original stories or longer classic stories. On their website all the stories are available through a random story picker. They also organized Button Fiction Spring Contest, a community short story writing competition, and all the winners’ and finalists’ stories are available online.

In class, watch this 1-minute film with your students and talk about what the machines are about and why they are exciting additions to city life.

Read the stories in class

Using the Random Stories selector on the Short Edition website, ask your students to choose a 1-, 3- or 5-minute story to read in class. We recommend these stories for students who are at least at a pre-intermediate (CEFR A2/towards B1) level of English. If you start with 1-minute stories, create groups of 3 or 4 and ask them to read the same story, then they can share the gist with the rest of the class. It is a quick reading activity to get a reading class going.

Write stories in class

Storytelling can serve a wide range of purposes. Apart from the pure fun of reading a story, you can have specific stories to introduce a topic, learn about a historical period or geographical region, or simply introduce new vocabulary and language structures. The language of description, characterization, narrative tenses and linking words can be practised through storytelling.

If you follow the original idea, you can invite your students to write 1-, 3- or 5-minute stories. The time should indicate the minutes one needs to read a story. You can ask your students to write a story at home, and then share it with others in class and time their reading. Then, ask students to give feedback to each other, give feedback yourself, and ask students to revise their stories at home and read them aloud. This way they can perfect their stories before handing them in.

When they write their first stories, only the length should be limited, but not the topic. If your class is working on a particular topic, you might want to ask the students to focus on that topic. Once you have accepted the stories and the students have given you permission to share it with others (with or without their names), ask them to print several copies and save one for themselves.

If you would like to learn more about storytelling, writing stories and creative writing, check out our resource books for teachers. Altogether they contain over a 100 activities for you to try and adapt to your classes.

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Find out more about these resource books here:

Sharing the stories

When your students have written their stories, you should find a way to share the story with others in the class. You can use boxes or large envelopes on a wall. Of course it is a good idea to make the boxes and envelopes safe and strong. Encourage students to pick stories randomly, without looking. When students choose their story, it might feel like a game of lucky dip, in which the prizes are guaranteed.

Exhibiting the stories openly on a board dedicated to stories is also a possibility, but it will change the purpose of the project. This way students won’t be able to take the stories with them and read them alone.

Share this idea with other teachers in your school and encourage to invite their students to participate!

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