May 11, 2012


Today was a kind of mixed up day.

I rearranged my schedule a bit today to take part in the Giraffe Story Telling competition.   As I am one of the judges, I needed to be at the school by 5:30pm.  The program, which also included a Mother’s Day theme, was mainly about choosing our top story tellers to represent our school in the Regional Competition on July 1.

We had three story tellers competing at each of the four levels – 12 students in all.  I must say, each and every one of these students did remarkably.  Unfortunately, only one in each level can win.  I could see in each of them, that they had done their absolute best, and it was a pleasure watching them all.

The opening of the program was a story told by the students of Penny’s class.  Coincidentally, it was the story that the Kindergarten level competed for, but it was really fun watching the whole class perform the story.  At present, I don’t teach these students, so it was a surprise for me to see this production.  Some of the students were a little more vocal than others, but that is to be expected when working with younger children.  Great job, Teacher Penny! (http://youtu.be/2ZWrMtJW874)

The other production, which I must say, was a lot more entertaining, was a song performed by Teacher Linda’s classes.  Yes, I did say classES.  When working with younger children, there are many challenges the teacher faces.  Young kids like to speak their minds.  They aren’t afraid to say whatever, whenever they want.  Trying to get several kids to sing in unison, is a challenge for any MUSIC teacher.  I’m not sure whether Teacher Linda has a music background, but the end result was wonderful!  On top of that, not only was it ONE class, but at least TWO classes singing together, in unison.

One class I teach, and the other, I do not.  However, I was not aware that these students were performing a song.  I have always maintained over my years here in Taiwan, you can get young kids to do ANYTHING!  If this was a reality show, I would have to give top marks to Linda.  I have great admiration for both Linda and Penny, but in this particular case, where Linda was charged with teaching a song to two different classes, and then having them perform together – Penny, I’m sorry to say this, but Linda won this challenge.  You did a great job in teaching the class a story, and having them perform it, but Linda wins this challenge.  (http://youtu.be/TH0qYMdKTGA)

However, the competition here was not between teachers.  It was not between classes.  The competition was between students of similar level, competing to represent Giraffe Nanmen in the Giraffe National Story Telling Competition.  And I can’t reiterate enough, just how much these kids put into their individual story tellings!

The kindergarten level is by far, the most impressive, in my opinion.  Most of these kids do not speak English at home or at school.  Most of these kids do not know how to read English.  Most of these kids barely understand the English language.  However, listening to these three students (Heifetz, Jeremy, and Elva, one has to rethink this opinion – these kids know English!  Of course, parents play a great part in preparing them, and for that, I commend the parents of each one of these kids!  They were, in a word, amazing.  When all is said and done, only one can be the winner.  That title went to Elva.

She dressed the part, she spoke the words clearly, and definitely, was very comfortable on stage.  I am truly looking forward to helping her to hone her English skills, and read and amazing story for the regional competition representing our school!  Congratulations, Elva!  I also have to give my praise to Heifetz and Jeremy.  Jeremy’s performance was fun to watch.  I am posting all their stories on YouTube so you can see their performances as well.

In the Level I category, Vanessa, Yuki, and Nadia were the contenders.  Nadia’s mother is a teacher at Giraffe, and I think that gave her a bit of an advantage.  However, all three girls really were unique in their story telling abilities.  In the end, Nadia took home the prize!  Congratulations, Nadia!  Nadia, by the way, will also be competing in a Chinese Story Telling competition.  Lots of work for a little kid.

The Level II contenders were Johnny, Charles, and Jonas.  Jonas has already been involved with story telling last year.  He knows the work involved in telling stories to an audience.  I could see that he used some of his abilities from last year, in this competition.  Johnny and Charles are classmates.  They are in the same class, are good friends, and have been practicing together.  Not surprising, both their performances were very similar.  All three were exceptional, and did very well, however, Jonas won the Level II spot.

In the Level III competition, there was May, Gary, and Marcus.  May is a relatively new student at our school.  Her English is very good, however, she has not competed in story telling.  This was her first attempt with our school.  Gary, in all honesty, looked a little nervous on stage.  He did well, but again, this was his first attempt at story telling.  Marcus, on the other hand, has competed for the past  two years.  He has done very well.  He has performed in front of our stages, the regionals, the nationals, and last year, had the unique opportunity to perform for Giraffe ‘Camp’ in the United States.  He is very comfortable on stage, and definitely knows what it takes to win.  His parents are also very much behind him, pushing him to do well.  Marcus was clearly the winner in this category.

Everyone did very well.  I was very surprised at the high level of work each of these students had accomplished.  The students have about 5 or 6 weeks to get ready for the regionals, so I expect there are going to be a lot of late nights coming up!  I’m actually getting all hyped up about this, because I feel, we have some very, very good kids competing this year.

There is one other student who did not need to compete this year, because she will be competing at the Level IV.  May.  She has competed and won several times over the years in all levels.  I think she will do amazingly well this year, and for Giraffe Nanmen, having 5 students competing in the National Story Telling Competition, will be a coup if all our students get to the finals.  That is definitely my goal and hope this year.  These kids are going to be pushed to their limits, but I do believe that each and every one of them, will rise to the challenge.  Each has their own reason for doing well.  We have a great group this year, and I’m ready – I hope the kids are as well!!

That’s it, that’s all… for now!

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