Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Finals, Awards & more from StoriesLive® Slam on April 30th,2011

Congratulations to all the participants in StoriesLive® first ever high school story slam. The scores were really close and all the tellers were ‘winners’ by bringing their stories and energy!  massmouth developed StoriesLive® to promote the unique voice of high school teens. We found listening to these stories powerfully moving.  Videos of all the components of our program; from the assemblies, in-class lessons and final performances can be viewed at - StoriesLive®. This program received seven LCC grants and generous support of a project grant from

Our massmouth storyteller-educators have heard over 1,200 personal stories from high school juniors and seniors in Abington, Andover, Boston Latin Academy, Everett, Lynn Classical, and Newburyport high schools. The best of the stories heard in the classroom moved on to tell in front of a larger high school audience. The best of each high school competed on April 30th, 2011 for a share $5000 in scholarship cash. Prizes were awarded for any post-secondary educational endeavor as follows: $2,000 for the 1st place and $1000 each to 2 runners up. $500 to the Audience Choice winner. A $500 award is a discretionary prize from massmouth to any student in the program.

Here are our first year prize winners:
1st place for $2,000 scholarship for any post-secondary educational endeavor –
Brianda Agramonte, Lynn Classical High School, senior,  for her story "Big Red Gum"

2 runners up  $1,000 scholarship -
Matthews DeSouza, Everett High School, junior
Matt Alves DeSouza receives his certificate for his win at the regional story slam on April 30th, 2011

Also a runner up with $1,000 award; Conor Miller,  Newburyport High School, junior ( picture from April 30th performance)
Conor Miller at the slam at the Cambridge Public Library - he had a long wait and did very well.

And our massmouth choice  winner, selected by massmouth educators for a $500 award-
Sandy Fonseca, Boston Latin Academy, senior

Sandy Fonseca Lopes receives her certificate from Torena Webb  Thomas,  massmouth storyteller/educator
who worked with Sandy at Boston  Latin Academy in April 2011.

StoriesLive® Audience Choice award of $500 towards any post secondary educational endeavor was awarded to:

Lexi Hernando, Lynn Classical High School, Senior

Katie Liesener leads a class at  Lynn Classical High School

Students practice stories at BLA

Students practice listening and telling at BLA

Ben Cunningham leads a class at Boston Latin Academy

Student Tellers For Program (Alphabetically by school)
Caylen Bryant Where I’m From
Patrick Farnham Learned the Hard Way
Michael Galletti Learned the Hard Way
David Iannalfo The First Time

Julio Abreu The First Time
Sandy Fonesca Lost and Found
Robert “Sonny” Finch Where I Am From
Elvis Garcia Learned the Hard Way
Barbara Kirby The First Time
Vition Mbrica Learned the Hard the Way

Ryan Considine Where I Am
Matt Alves DeSouza The First Time
Eilish Faherty Learned the Hard Way
Marie Goodman Where I Am from
Claude Simon Where I Am From
Qualified: Francisco Lemus and Kylan Nowell

Brianda Agramonte The First Time
Dammy Dada The First Time
Chris Divorell Learned the Hard Way
Maho Dzekic Where I’m From
Lexy Hernando Lost and Found
Chastity Mathurin Learned the Hard Way
Riley McManus The First Time
Ann-Louise Rescigna Learned the Hard Way

NEWBURYPORT, Newburyport, Mass
Jack Brophy Learned the Hard Way
Heather Davis Lost and Found
Sam Ettenborough Learned the Hard Way?
Hannah Koen The First Time
Conor Miller The First Time
Nat Muros The First Time
Andrew Orlando Where I’m From
Qualified: Nora Casey
Emcee: senior Masio Dotson from BOSTON LATIN ACADEMY

Reach us at or call us at 617-942-2553 to find out how you can donate to or to bring StoriesLive® to your school next year.

Storytellers and educators from massmouth in StoriesLive®
Executive Director/ Project Director
Norah Dooley
Program Director/Project Director
Andrea Lovett
Managing Director/Project Director
Nicolette Nordin Heavey 
massmouth storytellers/educators:
Dan Dahari, HR Britton, Karen Given, Ben Cunningham, Katie Liesener, Tony Toledo, Lani Peterson, Torena Webb, Esther Piszczek
Adjunct storytellers:
Paula H. Junn and Maddie Panella
Project Videography and Photography:
Paula H. Junn
We thank all our generous Scholarship Donors:
Morton Financial
In memory of Helen Moore
Charles and Andrea Lovett
Blair and Nicolette Heavey
Robert Fairchild & Norah Dooley
Marcelo and Marcela Lopez
Juan and Norma Sanchez
Allen and Stephanie Maruzzi
Karen and Raymond Chace
Richard and Patricia Thompson
Tina Jaillet
Daryl Mark
Bambi Good
Lucy Patton
Marie Claire Humblet
Joan Radner
Hal Miller-Jacobs
Gail Leicher
Laura Stock
Judith Nathans
Elizabeth Gospodarek
Bruce Marcus
Nina Berger
ML Grimaldi-Marvel
Mimi Grosser
David Briola

We thank our distinguished judges Tony Toledo, master storyteller and emcee, Judith Black, master  storyteller and last year's recipient of 1st prize at the BigMouthOff (adult story slam), Holly Samuels, media specialist/Librarian at Cambridge Latin High School and a expert story listener, Karla Nicholson, Executive Director of Haymarket People's Fund, Karen Given, massmouth member StoriesLive® teacher,storyteller and a producer for ONLY A GAME on NPR and  Brooks Dyroff is a 2011 finalist for the Hockey Humanitarian Award. He and Kenny Haisfield founded CEO 4 Teens in December 2006.

Thanks to all the staff and teachers at the high schools in  StoriesLive®:
Andover High School: Rebecca D’Alise, Eric Pellerin, Brian Shea, Pat Whalen
Boston Latin Academy: Amy Berinato
Everett High School: Sarah Belson, Andrea Cerchione, Michael Fineran, Ryan McGowan, Linda O’Brien, Valerie Shively
Lynn Classical High School: Jerry Burke, Daniel Collins, Patty Frey, Erica Tolley, Jack Vandergriff
Newburyport High School: Tom Abrams, Susie Galvin, Constantina Knecht, Steve Malenfant, Deb Szabo

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Above: Newbury High juniors work on their stories in pairs FEB 28th 2011 Photo: Paula Junn

 Everett High School will hold its first StoriesLive® assembly at 9am on Thursday, March 10, 2011. This assembly is the first step for 11th and 12th grade students entering the inaugural StoriesLive®  High School Scholarship Story Slam on April 30, 2011.  The assembly showcases veteran and emerging storytellers from massmouth’s Greater Boston story slam series. During the mini-workshop which follows, students will begin the process of crafting their own stories to compete for a share of an anticipated $5000 in post-secondary scholarships.
 “ Everett was one of the first schools to commit to the program”, said Andrea Lovett, massmouth, co founder. “We are so excited to work here.” massmouth ‘s executive director and project director for StoriesLive®, Norah Dooley agreed.

This spring, several Greater Boston area public high schools, with the support of a $10,000 Project Grant from, are hosting StoriesLive programs. Andover and Newburyport have already hosted training sessions and assemblies with massmouth storytellers. Boston Latin Academy and Lynn Classical start later in March and early April. Revere, Stoneham, Haverhill and Lawrence are working on plans to implement some part of the project.  StoriesLive® was born out of massmouth’s traditional storytelling roots and last year's successful city-wide story slam season. StoriesLive® will connect a new audience of teenagers and their communities to the art of storytelling. There is still room for a few schools to participate. StoriesLive® teaches 11th and 12th grade students oral presentation and narrative skills that can help them navigate applying to the college or finding the job of their dreams. 
massmouth is a newly formed non-profit organization that promotes the timeless art of storytelling through social media, education  and live performance.  StoriesLive® is a curriculum-based program developed by massmouth  teaching-artists, who are also professional storytellers.  Norah Dooley, one of massmouth’s founders and executive director, comments on receiving the Mass grant, “We are so excited by this news! We can include any school that wants to participate and pay our performing artists and educators!”

StoriesLive® meets the standards for public speaking found in the Massachusetts Language Arts Curriculum Frameworks.  “StoriesLive will be helping our students value their life experiences and learn how to communicate these through writing and speaking,” said Amy Berinato who teaches English and Theater at Boston Latin Academy, one of the first schools to sign up. “This program will engage students in a writing and performing process that celebrates not only the authentic voice of our young students but also the power of language. “ said Linda O’Brien, head of Everett High’s English department. Everett High was one of the first to sign up for the program and the entire English department participated in a professional development workshop this past November.

StoriesLive® consists of a professional development workshop; an assembly of professional storytellers modeling personal narrative; four lesson plans and all supporting material; and
online support.  “Using digital and social media to promote storytelling is part of massmouth’s mission.  We’ll use web 2.0 to support the project participants on all levels,” comments Dooley. 
StoriesLive® guides each high school in producing a school wide story slam.  Finalists move on to a scholarship prize event on April 30, 2011.  “The Cambridge Public Library has offered massmouth their beautiful new auditorium as the site for our final High School Scholarship Slam,” said Andrea Lovett, massmouth’s co-director and project coordinator, “StoriesLive® compliments the goals of the ongoing StoryStream project in Cambridge.”



Wednesday, July 7, 2010

massmouth annouces new scholarship story slam for high school

This program is funded in part by Mass Humanities, which receives support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and is an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
massmouth announces StoriesLive®
~ a High School Story Slam Project
oral storytelling: an educational  ‘innovation’ that is as old as language itself

Story. Everybody has one. Yet, not everybody knows how to tell one in a way that is compelling and meaningful for both the teller and the listener. Story telling is an art form that connects people through shared experiences; with a word, it bridges ethnicity, age, gender, and geography. Knowing your own story is important for every single human being, but being able to tell your own story is essential for students. A student who crafts a story and orally presents it to an audience will develop essential skills needed to succeed in college or the working world. Students entering college will need to thoughtfully prepare personal essays that highlight their strengths and be able to communicate those traits in personal interviews; students entering the working world will need to fill out job applications describing their background and abilities, as well as meet with prospective employers.  Learning the art of story telling will provide each student with the skills necessary to excel in any situation where oral communication is used. 

massmouth is an organization dedicated to helping people tell their stories and tell them well.  massmouth’s newest venture, StoriesLive®, is a program tailored to helping 11th and 12th grade high school students learn skills that will help them navigate applying for college or the job of their dreams while sharing meaningful, personal stories in a fun, interactive forum. The StoriesLive® program will culminate in a statewide or Greater Boston story slam involving all participating high schools and the winner will be awarded a scholarship. massmouth wants your school to be a part of this very exciting opportunity. Every student, not just the academically talented, who participates in StoriesLive® will have an equal chance to win the StoriesLive® scholarship because the contest is one of “story”, not story telling. Simply put, whoever brings the best story, wins.

StoriesLive® is based on massmouth’s successful citywide story slam season last year, The Moth in NYC, and emulates some organizational aspects of the Poetry Out Loud program. Conceived and organized by massmouth storytellers who are on Young Audiences of Massachusetts roster as “teaching artists” our oral personal narrative program is an educational ‘innovation’ that is as old as language itself. Here are a few points about StoriesLive®:

·        StoriesLive® will consist of a 4 session, 45- 60 minutes a lesson program that culminates in a grade-wide story slam at each high school.

·        Educators will receive a full complement of reproducible materials to aid in the instruction of storytelling that will be available on this site. 

·        Teachers will be able to use Live Chat, conference calls and blogs for support from StoriesLive® professional artist-educators who are also professional storytellers.

·        Students will have access to helpful resources on this site that will complement their class lessons.

·        Participation in the StoriesLive® program will be tailored to the needs of each school and can be as simple as a performance/assembly program, with comprehensive teacher training materials provided, or as complex as a mix of assembly, in class workshops, and teacher training.

·        High School story slams will give students the opportunity to perform for a wider audience, create content for your Digital Media Department, share their life experiences in a positive way, and win prizes.

·        Students who study the timeless art of storytelling while learning to tell a compelling story about their life experiences will allow them to meet and perhaps exceed many of the ELA Standards found in the Massachusetts English Language Arts Curriculum Framework: Working Draft June 2010.

All schools who participate in StoriesLive® are invited to enjoy an assembly that will include professional story performances, followed by an interactive workshop with instructions on story structure and presentation techniques. The assembly will conclude with students sharing their stories based on a common theme. Funding for these assemblies is being sought through grants.  There is wealth of information about story slams at our websites: and

We feel this project will greatly benefit your students and extend the timeless art if storytelling into the 21st century, which is massmouth’s mission. massmouth believes that storytelling is the missing link in literacy and quotes the cognitive scientist Steven Pinker often:

"Language is a human instinct, but written language is not . . . Children are wired for sound, but print is an optional accessory that must be painstakingly bolted on.  This basic fact about human nature should be the starting point for any discussion about how to teach our children to read and write."

Below: an essay from the Massachusetts DOE archived Curriculum pages:
The Importance of Oral Language
"We listen to the equivalent of a book a day, talk the equivalent of a book a week, read the equivalent of a book a month, and write the equivalent of a book a year." Walter Loban, an advocate for teaching oral language, used this comparison to remind an audience of teachers and graduate students of the dominant role that oral language plays in everyday experiences. Loban followed this statement by pleading,
"Please in the name of all that is good in language and thinking, please let the children talk. Let them talk a great deal."

Children need to learn how to listen as well. The development of speaking and listening skills must continue from preschool throughout a student's academic career. Loban's passionate plea for attention to oral language development in the classroom stems from his understanding that oral language provides the foundation for thinking in and about language. A significant link exists between well-developed oral language and strong reading and writing skills. Moreover, oral language further enhances thinking through its use in informal writing. When adequate attention is given to instruction in both informal and formal speaking, students learn why the rhetorical elements of purpose and audience so strongly influence such important matters as word choice, usage, tone, and style in oral discourse.