How to help students own their stories and storytelling clubs

By Kevin Cordi

What does ownership mean? Does it mean to truly relinquish responsibility? As an adult it is important to remember that allowing a child to “own” their work is not forgetting the importance of coaching or directing the work. Instead, it is a way to collectively work together with the child to achieve a common goal.

How to Help Students Own Their Stories.

Allow the student to choose the story – each student will feel more connected to the story if he or she has helped in the process of selecting it. However, remember the child or young adult will often look to you in helping them make their choices.

Encourage the student to set the direction for the story – each child’s interpretation of the story is unique and personal. Establish a means of “chatting about the story” (when the student feels ready) in order to allow him or her to establish the direction of the story. Encourage risk taking and exploring new choices. Open-ended questions are effective means of “chatting about the story.”

Adapt the introduction and conclusion to meet the teller and the story – one of the best ways to help with owning a story is to work with the beginning and the end of the story. Since these elements set the tone for the story encourages the student to “make it their own.”

Allow a student to let you know when a story is ready – there is a certain time when a student feels the story is tellable. Work to find this moment as your goal. The more the student tells the story, the more the student talks about the story, the sooner the time will arrive. However, some coaxing can help motivate the arrival.

Challenge the students with every story – a story can become old and lifeless if a memorized pattern is set early with the student and his or her telling. Help the student to see a story not as a fixed literary piece, but instead as a flowing vehicle for enticing and inviting an audience. Keep the story active for the student by providing for him or her numerous tellings in various settings and establish times for revisions and coaching.

Practice is quintessential to ownership – a student must realize that the art of storytelling is a continual art form. Instead of working in telling for one event, establish a weekly or at least monthly engagement for children or young adult storytelling. You will be surprised how many local establishments would invite your students on a monthly basis.

The greatest question for directing a student is “Why?” and “Have you considered?”

These are ownership questions. It compels a student to answer from their understanding of the telling. In this way the student responds from their work, not yours.


Have Fun on this Journey.  Learn from Each Other.

Let me know how I can help.
Kevin Cordi

Kevin Cordi is an international award winning educator, author, storyteller, story teacher, coach and consultant.He’s told stories for over twenty-five years on a national and international level. He strives to help others learn, engage, and refine their storytelling skills.

Contact Kevin

Telephone: (559) 213-0161

Contact the National Storytelling Network

c/o Woodneath Library
8900 N.E. Flintlock Road
Kansas City, MO 64157
Telephone: (800) 525-4514

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