The 1st British Council Turkey Story Sharing Web Conference

The 1st British Council Turkey Story Sharing Web Conference
by Adam Simpson

The 1st British Council Turkey Story Sharing Web Conference was a first of its kind online event which took place over the course of the weekend of 9th-10th February, 2013.
Sabancı University School of Languages was represented in the event by Adam Simpson, whose role as one of the event’s organizers was to act as a moderator. The presenters represented countries from every continent and entertained almost 650 participants from around the world. Attendees were treated to some fantastic presentations by an array of the biggest names in the world of storytelling.

Saturday, 9th February

Alec Williams' opening plenary gave us ‘Reading for Pleasure: Why it matters, How it helps, and Ways to Encourage it.’ If students discover pleasure in reading, noted Alec, they’ll want to do more, which will improve their reading further, creating a ‘virtuous circle’. Alec’s session delivered a range of ways to use stories, and how spotlighting the fun of reading will help to create readers for life.

Then came some great concurrent sessions... Özge Karaoğlu’sOnce Upon a Web Tool’ helped us discover several web based tools that will provide writing prompts and story starters for our young learners that can motivate them to start creating their stories from scratch. Aydan Yavuz’sContemporary Ways of Writing a ‘Short’ Story’ let us find out how we can exploit social media to teach English while having fun. Halima Benzoukh’sReading Stories: Another Strategy for Building Reading Fluency in EFL’ showed us that by using stories, EFL teachers can help their learners to increase their reading fluency. Dave Dodgson’sStudent-generated Stories - What Happens Next?’ explained how encouraging young learners to create their own stories is a great way to tap into their imagination and creativity (read Dave's blog post about his experiences with online conferences here). Çiğdem Güneş’Using Web 2.0 Technologies for Digital Storytelling Purposes’ highlighted the benefits of sharing of self-produced stories through the use of Storybird and YouTube. Müfit Senel’s and Deren Başak Akman’sRetaining Vocabulary Knowledge through Digital Story Telling’ showed us how to help young learners increase and retain their vocabulary knowledge through digital stories. Janet Ipek’sTo be or not to be’…TPRS in the Classroom’ looked at using these games like Trivial Pursuits for an effective TPRS (Total Physical Response Storytelling) classroom. Raquel Fernandez’sMake it Creative! Helping Students Find Their Way to Literature’ provided teachers with a variety of ideas and resources which have proved successful to smooth secondary students’ way into literature by overcoming their fears and activating their creative abilities.

David Heathfield’s plenary ‘Classroom Storytelling: Wonder, Wit & Wisdom in World Stories’ was a fun and highly practical webinar on simple, powerful, intercultural storytelling. He also gave us a detailed look at which has been developed by charity Kids Out. Gail Ellis’ plenary ‘Using Story Picture books with Primary Children’ demonstrated how the rich and stimulating medium of children’s literature and the techniques of storytelling can develop children’s English language skills as well as encourage social and emotional development.

Sunday, 10th February

Monica Lau’sUsing Stories to Arouse Student Interest in Learning English’ presented practical ideas and suggestions on how to use stories to raise student interest and lower their anxiety level in learning English. Vera Savic’sUsing Stories for Creating Engaging Thematic Units’ looked at the ways of integrating stories into thematic units for teaching English to young learners. Merve Oflaz’sMagic Calls Thee’ summoned the lovers of the ‘Educaland’ with the magic of stories. Joe Pereira’sRead/Write/Play: Digital Game-based Storytelling with Interactive Fiction’ highlighted how digital games, with their engaging and motivating characteristics, are increasingly becoming accepted as viable tools for language learning. Irene Canca’sESL Written Production through Guided Comprehension’ outlined a step-by-step teaching framework of Guided Comprehension with numerous teacher resources presented. Amel Daghfous’Developing Students’ English through Stories’ explained how stories provide opportunities for developing continuity in children’s learning and help to build up the child’s confidence and encourage social and emotional development.

Sevim Ak’s plenary ‘Yaratici Okuma / Creative Reading’ discussed the importance of creativity in getting young learners to read meaningfully. Samantha Lewis’ plenary ‘Using Graphic Novels and Comics with Teens’ offered a range of fun, practical activities that can be used to exploit such stories with teenage students while developing both skills and language work. It also focused on some of the resources available to help students to be creative and produce their own comics and graphic novels.

Sandie Mourao’sPicturebooks: The Whole Story’ presented practical ideas and suggestions on how to use stories to raise student interest and lower their anxiety level in learning English. Dinçer Demir’sEnrich your Storytelling with Sound Effects’ showed how, with the advantages of providing learners with an authentic language learning environment, storytelling is a stunning way of activating and fostering students’ learning. Şebnem Oral’sBilingual Stories- Circles of Learning’ discussed whether bilingual stories could be a constant flow of target language and thus be seen as comprehensible input plus one. Thalia Chadzigiannoglu’s, Georgia Gyftoula’s and Androniki Nistikaki’sSpark Creativity and Innovation in EFL Classroom with Digital Storytelling’ explored lesson ideas with digital storytelling tools to boost creativity and collaboration among teachers and students in the EFL classroom. Sue Leather’sWhat’s in a Story?’ included practical ideas for using readers to really getting your students to benefit from reading for pleasure. Paul Sweeney’s and Alex Warren’sStep up Mudslingers! Authoring Interactive Fiction’ highlighted how teachers can create digital interactive fiction with free software & no programming knowledge. Vicki Hollett’sStorytelling- the Indispensible and Yet Forgotten Business English Skill’ explained how the ability to tell a story is invaluable if you need to lead, inspire, motivate, persuade, explain or simply get along well with your colleagues at work. Her talk explored how we can help our students to do just that. Elena Oncevska’sUsing Picture Stories for English Language Learning’ demonstrated a hands-on activity aimed at revising target vocabulary and stimulating students’ creativity via writing picture stories. Simon Shephard’sStories for Schools Taster’ enabled us to listen to one of Sevim Ak's stories in English and see some of the great activities that you can do with your students.

Shelly Terrell’s closing plenary ‘Sharing Stories: Powerful Lessons in Language Learning’ allowed us to discover cool digital storytelling tools and lesson ideas. Shelly showed us examples of various digital storytelling projects from language learners of all various ages worldwide. We left with practical tips for managing, evaluating, and implementing collaborative digital storytelling projects.