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Web Pages
in Progress 

Stay Tuned

Chapter I
Before the Workshop

Chapter II
Let the Workshop Unfold

Chapter III
Stories in Evolution

Chapter IV
The Light on the Opposite Shore

Chapter V
Deeper Dives 

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Resources for Herstory Facilitators

Teaching the Page One Moment

Agenda for the First Day


  1. Introducing Yourself and the Work Ahead/ the "why" of this work

  2. Readings to Set the Stage: Drawing on one or two of the stories you selected/ the "how" of the work

  3. Introductions around the writing circle using the “If your words had the power” prompt). 

  4. Modeling of the Page One Moment: Using a collage of the examples you selected. For a link, click here.

  5. Playacting the “Page One Moment” around the  writing circle, until everyone comes up with their own “Aha” starting place. 

  6. Leaving each writer with a writing task structured around their “Aha” to bring back to share at the next meeting.

Introducing Yourself and the Work Ahead

Whether you are a teacher introducing a unit on writing a memoir, a school counselor using the “dare to care” technique with a push-in group of students, or a community workshop facilitator partnering with a school district, you will want to start by talking about why the work of writing to dare other people to care is so important to you. Only then, will your students understand that you really do care about hearing their stories and shaping them so that an audience of strangers will hear them.   

Each of you will be introducing yourself very differently as you move into describing the personal passion you feel for this work leading into your engagement in the project.

Sharing a bit of your own story, the first step

What is the story that you would like to share that would let your students know you that would guide them to find an answering story in their own lives to share with the group?  How can you show them that you have skin in the game while beginning to model the Page One Moments that will help them to model their own.  


We invite you to see how our founder might frame it, in this five minute video presentation.  

Leading Into Framing the Work Ahead

And now, listen to an introduction of the Brave Journeys project by Helen Dorado Alessi who was the lead facilitator in creating the Brave Journeys collection with her students. Feel free to download this eight-minute video and share it with your students or use it to inspire your own introduction to the work ahead.

Sharing a Story to Set the Stage

Now that you have shared the “Why” of helping a reading stranger to care, it is time to give your students a sense of the “How” of it all.

Once you have spoken a bit about shaping stories that will encourage the reader to care, it will be good to share a story giving a tiny bit of background on what the students should listen for as they let ideas for their own stories circle around in their minds.  


We invite you to go back to the reading you did to prepare for this work, to select one or two stories from the "Stories to Share" section of Brave Journeys, Herstory’s bilingual anthology of stories by young people who crossed the border by themselves, or from the Herstory stories posted on the NYSUT website, being mindful of the composition of the group of students with whom you will be working. 


If you know your students well, you might invite them to take turns reading the first story you selected around the room, working from in whatever language is comfortable. You can do this, whether you have copies of the book or project the pages on a screen.   


Or if you have internet capacity, you might want to share this story as read by one of Herstory’s student writers herself.  

This will lead quite naturally into your oral imagining of what students might be able to imagine if their words had the power to affect a heart, mind or even a policy or life. 

Yaquelin Rivas in English

Yaquelin Rivas en Español

Oral Imaging Around the Circle: Part One

If your words had the power to change a heart, a mind, a policy, what changes would you most like to see? 

In most situations people introduce themselves by telling a bit about who they are in real life. If you jump right into asking “If your words had the power, what would you wish them to do,” you give people the power to say as much or little about themselves as they wish. This is particularly important to students who will be afraid to reveal too much about themselves to their classmates and teachers. 

Now listen again to our founder, as she models how to work with this prompt.







When you work to evoke oral imaging, don’t short-change your own oral imaging to get things started. 

If you give just one example before you turn it over to your circle of students, the exercise will fall dead.  If you give a collage of examples, they will begin to feel their way to their own.  

As you work with this process you will notice how it allows each participant to reveal as much or as little about their personal stories as they wish.  They become the captains of their own ships, so to speak, in that we haven’t asked them for any facts about themselves,  but the process of thinking about what might happen if their words had the power has led them there.

Oral Imaging Around the Circle: Part Two

Playacting the Page One Moment of your life 

As you start, it is important to have everyone participate in the oral imaging, whether you are working with a very small group or a large one. As you repeat the prompts for each new speaker, you will need to say less and less in between.   

If you encounter a lull, you can return to a few more examples of what you might wish for, if your words had the power to change a heart, mind, or policy. 

Once again, we begin by giving a collage of examples, before we set the students to the task.   

As you return to watching our founder in action, we invite you to let your mind wander to the Page One Examples you might want to use on your first day.

Did you notice the collage of multiple examples, meant to take the writing circle into daydreaming their own.  

When you work with your Page One Collage of Examples, it is nice to frame them simply in this format:

  • So maybe the reader will find you seated in your favorite tree, thinking…

  • Or maybe the reader will open your story to find you hiding with your little sister in a moment of high drama...

  • Maybe the reader will find you in a moment of triumph...

  • Or maybe the reader will first hear your father saying something to you that changes your whole life...

Playacting the Page One Moment

And now it is time for the magic to begin, if you've built up to this properly.  We usually begin by asking for a volunteer, so that the students who have picked up the process most fully will often jump in right away.  It is important to watch faces to see who looks ready to talk next. 

Remember that the magic is in very quietly picking up echoes, so that each person’s internal drumbeat, like a heartbeat can emerge. 

Your role as workshop facilitator, is to very gently and quietly pick up the beat, as each person adds a new page one example. In order to do this, you might have to return to the collage of Page One Examples that you have prepared whenever there is a lull in the circle, but gradually your examples can disappear as the people in the circle take over with their own.

As you draw on the well packed suitcase of Page One Examples from your readings and your own experiences and those of your students, try to listen to the story-telling structure, even more than the content. It is important for you to model this as the drumming circle takes over.  

Leaving Each Player With a Writing Task

It is time now for your first workshop to draw to a close.   Depending on how many participants you will need to allocate 5 to 10 minutes to circle back to everyone a final time,  to invite them to start to write during the week (or whatever other interval you will have between your workshop session).

This is a good time to remind everyone that they will be reading aloud, to share what they are creating, so that you want them not to worry about grammar or written form.  No one else will have to see what they produce.  It is important to remind them that the best writing is often what we call “jaggedy” coming straight from the heart.   And important to echo the possible page one moments you heard around the circle for each person,  whether it was a single one or three or four.

We often will speak about how these moments morph and change, sometimes when we are taking a walk, or standing under the shower, or drinking a hot cup of tea,  so they don’t have to stick to what they modeled in the workshop.

Finally we talk about our desire to hear the first writings, how we will be thinking of the images as the week unfolds. We talk about how the second workshop of any series is the most exciting one of all, when the first writings are shared. 

The more you leave everyone with your own desire to hear what they will be producing, the more likely you will be to evoke an answering call.

More coming soon! 

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