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Cultivating Stories in Class 3

On several days last week, Class 3 students sat in a circle on the floor of the Black Box Theater, listening to last-minute instructions and waiting for their special guests to arrive. Nearby was a collection of clipboards, each filled with a page of questions, and a cart of iPad Minis.

Moments later, their guests – teachers, staff members and even Dr. Hayot – began to trickle in. Anticipation filled the room on each day as the students, organized into groups of two and three, looked for and connected with the adults they had been assigned to interview.

Welcome to Class 3’s Story Drive, a new cross-curricular collaboration between Drama and Technology. As Lower School Arts Integrator and Drama teacher Sarah Bellantoni explained, this interactive project was inspired by both StoryCorps, the phenomenally successful national story-sharing venture, and Chapin’s current theme, “Listen with Compassion, Act with Courage.”

A few weeks earlier, Ms. Bellantoni had reached out to Chapin’s Professional Community asking for volunteers to participate in this unusual oral history project; the response was extremely positive. Meanwhile, in Drama classes, the students learned how to ask questions that could spark captivating stories, while being mindful of the storytellers’ comfort level. They also practiced introducing themselves and speaking with articulate voices.

After Jasslin Betances, Lower School Technology Integrator, equipped each group with their iPad Minis, the girls, the volunteers and a team of chaperones dispersed to reserved offices, classrooms and conference rooms around the building to conduct their interviews. Walking with their clipboards and tablets, the students looked every bit the confident and curious young journalists they were.

For 20 minutes or so, the students took turns asking their interview subjects a series of open-ended questions,* which they created through a brainstorming process that centered on the topic of childhood. The questions were also intended to align with StoryCorps’ mission, which is to “preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.”

After the allotted time, the students thanked the professional community members and returned to the Black Box Theater. There, they spent a few minutes reviewing their interviews, which they had recorded on the iPads. In upcoming Technology classes, Ms. Betances will help each group to identify a “golden moment” during the conversations that stood out to them. Using a web application called “Explain Everything,” the girls will create animation to accompany the audio of this chosen moment.

Without a doubt, Class 3’s Story Drive endeavor succeeded in bringing the Chapin community together around our shared human experiences. Both the student interviewers, who demonstrated courage and confidence, and the professional community members, who bravely shared their personal stories, benefited from this remarkable experience.

Class 3’s Story Drive Questions

1.     What did you love to do as a child and why?

2.     Can you describe a happy memory you have as a child?

3.     Who was your best friend when you were a child? How did you become friends?

4.     Can you tell us about a trip you took when you were a kid?

5.     Please share a tradition that you and your family shared together.  

6.     Can you tell us about a challenge that you or your family faced when you were younger?

7.     Can you think of an important lesson your family taught you? How did you learn it?

8.     When you were little, what did you dream about?  What did you imagine your life would be like as a grown-up?

9.     What advice would you give to us about being a kid?

Browse photos from the Story Drive below: