Students As Storytellers Analysis

1030 Words 5 Pages
Review of Howard’s “Students as Storytellers: Teaching Rhetorical Strategies through Folktales” In the NCTE journal, Teaching English in the Two-Year College, PhD student Jeffrey Howard published a fascinating article titled “Students as Storytellers: Teaching Rhetorical Strategies through Folktales.” In the article, Howard explains how he was able to captivate students with an assignment that gave them the creative license to reinvent a popular fairytale, Little Red Riding Hood, all while asking students to explore and develop rhetorical strategies in their composition. The article shows the value of using literature in the composition classroom as well as how the practically universal texts of fairytales can reach students of almost …show more content…
He found that he also needed to find a way to use such a project to give contextualized and significant rhetoric instruction, and not just have a creative writing activity or a reflective writing assignment. Howard cites several prominent folklorists, including Lynn McNeill, as well as other teacher-scholars who have discussed both the benefits and difficulties with using literature in a composition classroom. With his research, he decides to ask students to implicitly add an “agenda” to their reinterpreted fairy tales. He gives students the agency to choose whichever version of the fairytale they are most familiar with, or to use one of the ones he provided. Howard gives a lesson on “agenda” and explains to students that it doesn’t have to have the negative connotations that it has in politics today; it simply needs to be a moral lesson or argument that is underlying and not expressly stated in their story. The article provides examples of the some of the best student writing that came from this project with Howard’s explanations of how those students succeeded in both the rewriting of the fairy tale and in putting an implicit argument that was identifiable in their story’s subtext. Students who were not as successful either made their agendas too explicit …show more content…
It is also clear that Howard has worked hard to make this project accessible and relevant for as many students as possible. Howard achieves this accessibility by giving students completely open options for which version of the “Little Red Riding Hood” fairy tale to reinterpret. He mentions many culturally diverse versions that students can choose from, but also gives students several options if they aren’t sure what they want to choose, including film depictions which would reach students who work better with visual or audio texts and multimodality. These are just some of the strengths of the article and the assignment, based on what readers can garner from the article. As a prospective GTA, I wish that Howard could have shown some examples of student work that fell short. Without necessarily showing a specific student’s work, the article would have benefited from having a clear example of writing that had too explicit of an argument or writing that was all creative with no argument at all. Giving the good samples was incredibly valuable, and it would have helped even further to demonstrate exactly which student writing didn’t meet expectations. These additional writing samples would have helped other teachers who want to know what they might expect if they recreated this assignment or

Related Documents