Opal School closed in 2021. You can continue to access these resources for free at teachingpreschoolpartners.org/resource-library/.

Why Story Workshop?

Why Story Workshop?


This week, the staff of Kairos Charter School spent a day at Opal School investigating Story Workshop.  They wondered how Story Workshop might support their mission of “cultivating confident creative compassionate leaders.” Story Workshop is an approach that has evolved as Opal School teachers and children in the early grades explore the question, What might be the role of the arts in literacy?

After a day of classroom observation, conversation, and presentations, the Kairos staff were asked to articulate the links they saw between Story Workshop and this aspect of their mission.  I thought their lists were provocative and worth sharing here.  They wrote that Story Workshop cultivates…

  • making a plan and being held accountable allows me to see my progress and growth
  • making choices about how I spend my time
  • giving kids a voice
  • any meaning I give to my story, it is still my story and worthy
  • my story is worth telling and sharing
  • respecting differences
  • there is no wrong way to tell a story
  • sharing my stories and feeling secure that it will be received
  • no strict timeline – I can go at my own pace
  • confidence in using a variety of materials
  • exploring a variety of media
  • makers vs passive learners
  • opportunities to express your thoughts in multiple ways
  • overheard: “you just build something – then you find a STORY.”
  • supports inspiration
  • not rote
  • seeing different perspectives and different solutions to the same material/problem
  • finding new ways to tell a familiar story with a new material
  • ability to explore and create and believe
  • materials encourage metaphoric thinking allowing for many permutations of an idea or object
  • Hearing another’s ideas and inherently wanting to collaborate makes me want to learn about the other – hear your story – diversity
  • recognizing the impact of your actions on your environment and community
  • fosters deeper connections between people, animals, nature
  • problem solving with friends allowing to offer or receive a helping hand
  • safety to share your idea knowing it will be received well
  • see and understand different perspectives of same event
  • problem solving through play – authentic
  • gives children the opportunity to “stay with friend, holding a strong image of their potential”
  • gives real world opportunities to support one another from a place of shared experience but multiple perspectives
  • seeing we have more in common – we have more that brings us together than apart


  • knowing that your story is important and you can make your voice be heard
  • inviting friends in to listen and validate your story
  • cultivates desire to support others
  • empowering ownership of stories
  • expressing an opinion that is not widely agreed to
  • taking a risk and practicing sharing and expecting to both be heard and to contribute to the interaction
  • teaches kids to be mindful, intentional about choices
  • what I say has value
  • helping others and the ability to be helped
  • I am valuable and important. What I say matters
You can learn more about Story Workshop through The Geography of Story Workshop, Equity and Access Through Story Workshop text and videos, and our upcoming workshops (especially New Possibilities for Writers with Matt Glover.)
I wonder: How is your school investigating the relationship between its approaches to literacy and its mission?  What do your lists look like?
October 07, 2014