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String stories that open new ground

Tomorrow is the students’ performance, and I’m not nervous, or hardly at all. Somehow I feel confident that they will rise to the occasion and keep themselves together,  We’ll see…

Photo by Nicola Percy, taken at the Santa Cruz Storytelling Festival, 2015

It’s String Time!

Still buzzing with the excitement of a full week of teaching string games, plus a small group workshop with the Teaching Artists’ Gathering at the Arts Council, and a Google Chat with Teaching Teaching Teachers about my string art teaching:


String Games for Connected Learning: Ambidexterity, Collaboration, and the Power of Personal Repertoire

A week or so ago I wrote this description of a workshop I’m submitting to present at a couple of small local CABE conferences:


String Games for Connected Learning:

Ambidexterity, Collaboration, and the Power of Personal Repertoire

The collaborative flow of a group string game learning process can be magical, and kids love to teach as well as learn. As a group we will follow the sequence I’ve used successfully with 1st-8th grade students, where in the space of one hour (best as three twenty minute sessions broken up with other activities), a group as large as 30 can master at least one simple figure and rehearse a silent performance in unison of the first figure in their repertoire. The transformation of each student into also being a teacher is a key step in building a classroom culture of collaboration. Each person has a unique learning path and potential repertoire of figures can master personally, and taking responsibility to be accountable for a set of figures learned and teachable can both transfer to and link up with learnings in every curricular realm. Learn to tell stories with string and transform your classroom or workspace into a collaborative playshop of connected learners.


I had a wonderful example of just such a flow within a group last Friday, when a colleague from the local arts charter school, now at a local elementary, had me coming in for a half-day sub job. She hadn’t know I would be her sub, and when she saw me, she said “How wonderful! Now I don’t even have to write a lesson plan!” and introduced me to the class as a kind of magician and storyteller, to awed silence. I had brought my bag of strings, and instantly decided that the “pro” strings I buy from the String Figure Store were worth spending on this opportunity, even though I can get rug roving much more cheaply through school supplies, and seldom distribute the brightly colored knotless loops until a group has earned  a reward by demonstrating group mastery of the first figures students need in their personal repertoire.

The class went spectacularly well. Everyone learned the fish spear, and opening A, and most got the Cat’s Whiskers as well. In the space of just over two hours, the entire class of fifth graders had an introduction to the concept of personal repertoire and a sense of accomplishment, both for each individual and as a group.

String games for lifelong learning

This Web site is going to serve as the sandbox for my book-writing project. There really are 3 or 4 or 5 books that need to come out of this work, and in a way they are each chapters of the others…

The first off the press I want to be “It’s String Time!” A guide for teachers on how to use string games to develop literacy and collaboration skills. Here’s an early blog post on the thinking behind this…


And here’s my video instruction on making the Karok Fish Spear: