“What’s the T?”: Tea Time Storytelling Circles


“What’s the T?”: Tea Time Storytelling Circles


We have started our “CREATIVE LANGUAGE UNIT: REALITY in 360.”  One of the elements of this unit focuses on  STORYTELLING.  WE WILL EXPLORE CREATIVE USES OF LANGUAGE BY LEARNING TO TELL STORIES.  STORYTELLING is an oral tradition that helps to pass knowledge down from generation to generation and across communities and cultures.  

We will be serving tea every Tuesday for Tea Time Tuesday.  Each student will be assigned a day to tell a story to their classmates.

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We launched STORYTELLING with each student telling a story about Spring Break and learning about cultural rituals such as tea ceremonies in Chile and coffee ceremonies in Ethiopia.  Each student was assigned a country to investigate and learn about that countries’ rituals, traditions, and ceremonies centered on tea or coffee.  Also, we invited Chris Shaw to talk about the connection between rituals and algorithm.  He connected the ideas of coding as a language to the symbols and words we use as coding for a story.  He stated, “Some rituals we create. Some rituals we are given by others.”


Chris Shaw is a Seattle-based ceramic artist, designer, and engineer. He is inspired by tea, its rituals, and its fluidity. Chris’ sculptural work consists of focused examinations of our concept of value. Drawing heavily on his training in mathematics, Chris seeks to form and reform an aesthetic topography through transformative experiences. The process employed in crafting each work combines abstract logic and intuitive perception.



  • 360 in this unit represents the circle in which we deliver our stories
  • We are all storytellers
  • We get to create reality by the stories we tell ourselves and others
  • We create history, because some ancestors dreamed of our reality today
  • Oral traditions are as sacred as the written word.
  • Understanding and creating narratives is a fundamental literacy skill—it is also a universal human activity that brings people together.
  • We can create new rituals and traditions through the stories we tell.


  • Hearing stories:
      • 1. Stimulates the imagination.
      • 2. Improves listening skills.
      • 3. Instills a love of language, reading, and creative writing.
      • 4. Improves language skills, such as vocabulary, comprehension, sequencing, and story recall.
      • 5. Builds community by providing a common experience and collective language of story catch words and phrases.
  • Storytelling:
    • 1. Increases self-esteem by building confidence in speaking before groups.
    • 2. Improves expressive language skills and stimulates inventive thinking.
    • 3. Promotes greater cooperation and stronger relationships among community members. If we know others’ stories, we are less likely to judge or misunderstand them.
    • 4. Encourages personal growth through risk-taking.
    • 5. Gives you techniques for gaining and holding an audience’s attention during an oral presentation (eye contact, use of voice, gestures, etc.)

(SKILLS Modified from Julie DeNeen, “30 Storytelling Tips For Educators: How To Capture Your Student’s Attention” Inform ED.)

Exploring the Intersection of Statistics and Art through the Dear-Data Project

The 8th graders are currently in the middle of a project that explores the intersection of Statistics and Art.  The project is modeled after the Dear Data  project.  In our SGS version, the students brainstormed topics that they would be interested in collecting micro-data about, and then visualizing it in an artistic format (see some finished examples below).  After collecting and visualizing their data in an artistic format, the students also learned to organize and graph their data in Google Sheets and Excel.

Round 1 topics were:  Music, Complaints, and I Love You.  Round 2 choices are: Laughter, Screen Time, or Positive/Negative thoughts.  And Round 3 will be Designer’s Choice!

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MS Dear Data 1 visual   MS Dear Data 1 key

EC Dear Data 1 visual   EC Dear Data 1 key

AC Dear Data 1 visual   AC Dear Data 1 key

IW Dear Data 1 visual        IW Dear Data 1 key

AA Dear Data 1 visual   AA dear data 1 key

MG dear data 1 visual   MG dear data 1 key