Last week, we were fortunate enough to have Alan Levine talk to our class about digital storytelling. It was a really interesting discussion all about engaging students using storytelling. This could either be done by presenting the lesson in a storytelling format, having the students present something about themselves in a storytelling format, or even, have the entire class collaborate in a shared story.
The big takeaway message from this discussion was: storytelling is a way of creating a conversation with students in order to engage the class in a learning experience. My initial thought was: Great! But is this something I could realistically use in a physics/math classroom?
The answer: totally.
To a smaller extent, this was something that I stumbled upon during my block. During the momentum unit in physics, I gave a presentation about my experiences at SNO. The presentation contained information that was part of the curriculum, but – and I didn’t realize it at the time – I ended up presenting it as a story. I noticed that they were really engaged in the story as I was telling it – although I didn’t actually realize why until Alan talked about the power of storytelling.
Here’s another example that Alan shared with us on how storytelling can be used in a math/science class.
What I really liked about this ‘story’ is that it has no words! A narrative with a strong inquiry element for students to fill in the blanks. After showing something like this to a science class, we could have a great discussion about how her setup worked.
During the background chat, people were also talking about using storytelling in a science class to present the history of some discovery. Totally. Those lessons about the history of something are usually pretty dry. But spice it up with a story format, maybe add some side notes about the eccentric scientists involved, and it suddenly becomes engaging.
Alan also gave us some great resources. I recommend bookmarking his wiki page dedicated to digital storytelling, and his wiki page dedicated to 50 web 2.0 ways to tell a story (inspired, of course, by Paul Simon’s 50 ways to leave your lover).
Some other really amazing ideas he left us with: he used voicethread to record his mom’s voice talking about a family picture (great way to record voices/experiences from the past). Beyond teaching, he also introduced us to Pechaflickr (which he invented!) as a fun game to play with a class or with friends – creating a story based on random flickr images.
Thanks, Alan! It was a really great talk that I’m definitely going to use in my future classes.