Read an Excerpt
PART ONE How to Use This Book Before You Begin We can only hope that you fully understand the importance of being prepared before you start this Chicken Soup for the Soul journey.
Research indicates that when we learn something new, we will remember:
10 percent of what we read
20 percent of what we hear
30 percent of what we see
50 percent of what we see and hear
55 percent of what we see and take notes on
70 percent of what we discuss with others
80 percent of what we personally experience
85 percent of what we see, take notes on, and review within five hours
95 percent of what we teach others.
While Chicken Soup for the Soul stories are not exactly note-taking experiences, they are true stories that teach to our hearts, rather than solely to our heads. As we hear them, we relate to them, and they become personal experiences for us. We laugh with them, we cry with them, and most of the activities encourage us to discuss these new experiences with others.
These stories lead us through many life experiences vicariously, while under the guidance and supervision of a teacher. They provide character education at its best.
Because every story provides for some discussion, we refer you to many suggestions and guidelines entitled Circle Talks, found on page 317 in the Appendix.
Here are a few guidelines and reminders to set the tone for success:
- Preview the story and plans
- Whenever possible, read the story aloud to yourself first
- Know the intended direction of questions and activities
- Allow for spontaneity and shifting of direction for 'teachable moments' because when the mind is open, the heart will hear)
- Have materials ready for any activities, and whenever possible have samples to show
- Be sure that students are clear on any directions before they start an activity
- If possible, do a 'walk-through' to assure understanding
- Encourage students to participate with an open attitude
- Allow time for students to process and reflect
- Unless you are deliberately sending students out the door with their own thoughts following a story, provide some sense of closure for the group.
- Remember that it is your energy that sets the tone for the entire experience
Suggestions for Using Chicken Soup for the Soul in the Classroom
We have three main goals for teachers using this program:
To get students to enjoy reading To get students to express themselves in writing To empower students to make a difference in the world
For optimal success, we recommend the following:
1.Choose your story to match your lesson.
Although each Chicken Soup for the Soul story is motivating in some way, for maximum value it is best for it to be an integral part of your lesson plan.
2. Choose your story to match your audience.
Mild swear words may be acceptable for high school students or adults, but not so for elementary students. Can you 'soften' them without changing the power of the story? Strong references to God or religion may be an important part of your life, but forbidden in most public schools. Do you leave out those references, modify them, or switch to another story? It is important to know your story before reading it aloud.
3. Select the placement of your story.
Will you start class with it? Do you plan to fit it into the middle of the lesson? Do you intend to use the follow-up activities? Have you allowed enough time? Is it your 'out-the-door,' thought-provoking message at the end of class for students to ponder, and perhaps journal about?
4. How long does it take to read it aloud?
Have you planned your time accordingly? It is not wise to be in the middle of your story when a bell is ringing signifying the end of class.
5. What type of follow-up will you do?
Will you use the questions provided or develop some of your own? If the questions will be used for classroom discussion, have you allowed enough time? Can you adjust plans easily to allow for a longer (or shorter) discussion than you anticipated? If the questions will be answered in writing or journal format, will this be done during class time? For homework? For credit? Will the writing become a part of your classroom routine? If student reading is your goal, do you have classroom quantities of Chicken Soup for the Soul books available? Will students be allowed to choose their own stories with corresponding follow-up activities?
6. What is your PURPOSE in using the story?
Is it for motivation? Inspiration? Is it part of a specific lesson (e.g., friendship, history of an era, attitude, civil rights, etc.)? Will it be used to establish classroom routine (e.g., the value of daily reading or writing)? Is it a time-filler at the end of the hour (oops, three minutes to spare)? Or, is it your desire to 'change the world one story at a time?'
7. Every student needs to be 'heard.'
For this reason, discussion questions are best shared in dyads and/or Circle Talks before examining in a full-class interaction. There are numerous ways to randomly pair students in a nonthreatening way to form dyads or small groups. We have included set-up directions for Circle Talks, (Appendix, page 317) and Creative Ways to Get into Groups (Appendix, page 342).
8. Practice reading stories aloud, at least once.
A poorly read story is like a joke with the wrong punch line—it will lose its potentially huge impact. A practice run will let you know which phrases to emphasize so you won't be surprised by any words or concepts, and the story will flow more smoothly.
9. Are other teachers in your building using Chicken Soup for the Soul stories as a regular part of their teaching?
In elementary school, there is probably no problem with this. But whenever students rotate from teacher to teacher, they may be hearing the same stories frequently, and you may lose the impact of a powerful or surprising ending. If this is the case, you may wish to do some minor coordinating between staff for the maximum effect with your students.
10. The questions and activities are geared for students at a midrange level.
In most cases, they can easily be adjusted to higher or lower abilities and competencies. Always remember that you are the expert regarding your students and their capabilities. A plan that is labeled for the sixth grade may be perfect for your fifth graders and the issues they are facing. Or, it might work best for a particularly challenging group of ninth graders. The age levels indicated are merely guidelines to help you to select the stories and activities.
11. Not all stories are suitable for all students.
Some of the stories selected deal with very tough issues (e.g., divorce, discrimination, abuse, death, etc). A rural school in Michigan will have very different needs than an inner-city school in New York. We have included a variety of these sensitive topics in case you have the need to address them as a class. Teachers have a responsibility to use their good judgment in selecting appropriate stories for their students.
12. Activities have been designed that will touch several aspects of students' lives: physical, emotional, social, spiritual, mental, artistic.
We have found this 'whole life' learning to stay with students longer and to empower them to make a difference in their homes, their schools, their communities, and the world. We refer to it as 'teaching to the heart, rather than the head.' And we encourage you to use this method regardless of the subjects that you teach. For more information on teaching to multiple intelligences, we suggest that you go on-line to any popular search engine and simply type in 'multiple intelligences.' We consider Thomas Armstrong and Howard Gardner to be the leading experts in this field.
13. Use these stories to trigger personal stories of your own.
Recall the childhood memories or turning points in your own life. Remember a friend who had a tough decision to make. Tell of a former student who made a difference in your school. Students need to know that you, as a teacher, are human, that you have had obstacles to overcome, painful experiences to endure, and joys to share. Learning to tell your own stories may be the most powerful aspect of using this program. We think you will be pleased with the strong student-teacher bonding that will occur with the use of stories in your classroom. We do suggest, however, that you use discretion in sharing too many personal details of your life with your students.
14. Finally, have fun!
Your attitude about reading and the use of stories is contagious. If you love a good story, so will your students. Your passion for stories will become their passion.
Do not underestimate the power of having a consistent reading diet of Chicken Soup for the Soul stories, without always doing the lesson plans. Refer to the Short Shorts and the Just for Fun chapters for stories with a powerful impact, but no plans. We think you will find that the frequent use of story in the classroom can literally change the world, one student at a time, and one story at a time.