Sunday, October 28, 2007

Residency fun

This last week I began my four-week residency in Allen County, KS. I spent Monday and Tuesday in Humboldt, Wednesday and Thursday in Moran. Every kid in kindergarten through fifth grade in Humboldt and kindergarten through sixth grade in Moran has heard me tell stories. I'm famous in those schools.

What's a residency? Essentially, it means that I'm "in residence" in a town or a school for an extended time. Some storytellers use the term to mean teaching instead of performance, but I find myself doing performance residencies more often than teaching kids about storytelling.

This four-week set is a performance residency. I'm with small groups of kids, one or two classes at a time. This is a real treat--instead of performing for 250 kids in a gym, I'm in the classroom or in the library, a more intimate setting. I do have stories that catch the interest of wide ranges of kids, but doing it this way allows me to react differently to the listeners. I can give the sixth graders more sophisticated (and sometimes scary) stories than I tell to the first graders.

One of the other treats of a residency is that I often eat with the kids. In Humboldt I brought my own lunch, while in Moran I had the salad bar for the teachers. Occasionally I'll eat school lunch, but it's not my favorite (gluey pizza, gack!). I love table hopping, sitting with kids who have already heard me tell stories. They tell me which stories they liked. I ask what they like best for school lunch (gluey pizza!), if they have pets, if they know any jokes.

I've got something new for this residency: a study guide. I've known for years that I needed to create one (or more), but it wasn't until this summer that I finally applied myself. The teachers last week were universally pleased to hear that the study guide was available.

I'd better go pack. All this week I'll be at one school in Iola, the hub of this residency and where I'm staying. More later, especially starting on Thursday, the beginning of NaBloPoMo.

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