The Unexpected Power of Show and Tell

Sarah Lynn Sarah Lynn

The Unexpected Power of Show and Tell

Truth be told I love “Show and Tell.” It may seem like an old fashioned assignment, but the objects adult students bring to class often tell their most important stories.

Here are a few examples:

A Small Grey Stone
Janice showed us a pebble she carries with her every day. Years before she had been in a motorcycle accident in the mountains. She was bleeding uncontrollably from a ruptured artery. …

Her friend grabbed a smooth pebble from the ground and pressed it against her throbbing cut. Janice held the stone in place as her friend went to find help. When the paramedics arrived, they said the stone had prevented Janice from bleeding to death.

A Child’s Drawing
Carlos brought a child’s drawing of a rabbit. His son had sent it to him many years ago. It is perfectly drawn. The drawing is an inspiration to Carlos. It reminds him of the importance of the tuition bills he pays every month. His son now is 19 and studying engineering at a university in El Salvador.

A Blanket
Magda brought an embroidered baby blanket that has been passed down from generation to generation. Each mother embroiders her initials into it and then wraps her newborn in the blanket. It helps Magda feel connected to family in Colombia, as she raises her two daughters in the U.S.

A Medallion
Edith showed us a small silver medallion that she wears around her neck every day. It was good-bye gift from her aunt, just as Edith set out on the dangerous journey from Guatemala to the United States. As Edith made her three-week journey, she often touched the medallion to feel the protection of her aunt’s love.

Show and Tell Logistics

  • The presenter writes the name of the object on
    the board and a few key words.
  • The presenter speaks for three minutes,
    pointing to the key words and defining them when appropriate.
  • The presenter passes the object around. If the
    object is too delicate to be handled, it can be passed around on a tray.
  • Students ask questions.
  • Students take a few minutes to retell the story
    on the feedback sheet. I collect their responses and pass the most
    cogent ones on to the presenter.

Show and Tell

Classmate’s Name:
My Name:
What is the object?
What is its story?
Why is it important to my

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with Show and Tell!