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Storytelling Workshop: Weaving Webs of Stories, Finland

The workshop was carried out at the Puotila Primary School, in Eastern Helsinki, Finland. It took place over the period of eleven weeks with each session lasting for approximately one hour. The participants were introduced to the basics of storytelling - genre, plot, characters, setting, etc. - through a series of interactive games and activities. In addition, they took part in activities that encouraged cooperation and discussion of equality, fairness, and equity. The workshop started with an introductory session where participants got to know each other through various ice-breaker games. This was followed by a general discussion of different kinds of stories.

The participants talked about their favorite stories, and why they like them. During the next session, through the use of visual prompts, the participants discussed what story elements they want to incorporate into their story and what kind of a story (sad, funny, exciting, dark, fictional, etc.) they want to tell. During the following session, a story ("What To Do About Alice?: How Alice Roosevelt Broke the Rules, Charmed the World, and Drove Her Father Teddy Crazy!" by Barbara Kerley) was read to the participants, and different elements of the story were discussed. This prompted a discussion about creating meaningful stories and about how stories can change and influence the world. This was followed by an exercise where the participants had to write a short story together using the folding paper method.

The participants were given a theme, and they were asked to write one sentence of the story, fold it over, so it cannot be seen, and pass it over to the next participant to add another sentence to the story. After this exercise in cooperative writing, the participants started to brainstorm ideas for the larger story. The participants had come to the workshop with some story ideas. A large part of the process was about negotiating and working together to combine these ideas and to create one cohesive story that expressed something meaningful for all of the participants. To combine these ideas, the participants were asked to think about who they want their stories to be about and create character descriptions. Once they had their character descriptions, they were asked to write short pieces of dialogue combining characters from their different stories.

This exercise encouraged them to work together, and also work on understanding others and communicating with them. During the week when settings were discussed, participants were encouraged to think about how the setting impacts what people think and how they act. This was both an exercise in storytelling, as well as a way to encourage participants to think more critically about how certain ways of thinking and being are formed. The second half of the workshop sessions was dedicated to writing itself. The participants had five sessions to write their story together. To make the process easier, they were given laptops and wrote the story in Google Docs. This made it possible to write and edit in a more cooperative way. Though the participants did not have enough time to finish their story, they were excited about the process and took it home to continue working and developing it further after the workshop had ended.

Learning for Integration ry, Finland

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