Lee Hewes

is totes becoming a teacher…

The Importance of Sharing Life Stories


Following our reading of The Little Refugee by Anh and Susan Do, we wanted to get the students thinking about how they could share their own life stories.

I may have said this previously, but the kids at North Star are really cool and they’re quite willing and enthusiastic to go with most of the stuff they get up to in class. However, and I think this is true for most people, if you ask somebody to talk about their life story, you’re likely to get a response like “Why would anybody wanna know my life story?” or “Mine’s boring, I haven’t done anything interesting”.

So to try to get around this kind of response from the students, we decided to watch segments of the following video with the class:

Importance of telling your life stories

This is a short video interview with a personal historian who speaks about why it is important to share your life story. She addresses the issue above and argues that
everybody has something interesting to share. She also mentions that the reason she first decided to look into her personal history was the fact that she knew very
little about her great grandparents, so decided to look deeper.

I spoke about this with the class, and the fact that I too knew very little about my great grandparents, and this
was something that seemed to resonate with them. It was something that some of them wrote down on the KWL table later, too.

Next we watched excerpts from the following 3 ‘Draw My Life’ videos:

Sam Pepper

Sophie Chan

Harry Potter

We watched these to reinforce the idea that everybody has something interesting to share and to also give students some food for thought in relation to how they might go about
sharing their life stories; what information to share, how they might go about doing it.

We also discussed which aspects of the draw my life videos students remembered most, what ‘stood out’ and why, how these features of the video were effective in communicating
particular moments each person’s life story. We also discussed the music which accompanied each video and how this also contributed to each narrative.

Following this discussion we asked students to try a ‘connections’ activity.
This activity involved drawing a line down the centre of a page, writing ‘Me’ on one half and ‘Text’ on the other.
Students then tried to find links between their own life and the life stories of the people in the videos they had just views, as well as The Little Refugee. I modelled the procedure on the
whiteboard beforehand to help students as they went about it themselves.
The links that I drew were between my own life and that of Anh Do – my parents came over to Australia by boat
in 1974.

It was interesting to see what the students were taking out of the activity, and it was cool to see their ideas beginning to flow!

2 thoughts on “The Importance of Sharing Life Stories

  1. Awesome activity. Students using higher order thinking skills to conceptually connect to the real world. Ideas and activity very reflective of new stage 3 English syllabus. Great teaching.

  2. The different discussions and ways to connect to the concept of life stories and the extension to how and why this is important. Certainly after this lesson, concepts that the students had struggled with in the initial lesson seemed to be clearer, so from that point of view the aim of the lessons was achieved 🙂

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