Tag: educational storytelling (Page 2 of 3)

(Five) Guiding Principles of Educational Storytelling

This post is part of a series that explores the Basics of Educational Storytelling. Largely taken from my master”™s thesis, The Value and Principles of Educational Storytelling (which can be read here), this I will lay the foundation for an educational storytelling model regardless of setting and medium. We look at the basic elements of storytelling, five guiding principles and educational stories, and practical tips.

Check out the rest of the series.

Educational storytelling means a lot of things to a lot of different people. It can be expressed through classroom instruction, student writing, moral teaching, and singing songs around a campfire. These may seem like far-flung and unrelated activities. It becomes even more muddled when we talk about educational storytelling for different purposes: Identity/Social Oriented teaching (like morality tales), and Process Oriented Teaching (like math and science). How can any of these things be reconciled? It feels like there are too many things going on to find common ground.

Well, all of the above can be boiled down into to some commonalities. This is not an end-all list, but a place to start.

In my research, educational storytelling in all its forms can be built upon five basic principles: Hero Audience Bonding, Emotion and Learning, Presentation and Craft, Presentation and Learning Profile, and Interactivity. We will touch on each one here, and dedicate a post to each in the future.

1. Hero Audience Bonding

We create a hero the audience can learn through, vicariously. Once a character is made identifiable, the audience is able to “see through their eyes” and experience the world as they would through empathy and emotion. As the hero progresses through the story, learning and problem solving, the audience will learn the same lessons — given they have bonded with the main character.

2. Emotion and Learning

There is a reason you remember the joke your grandfather told you at six years old, but you cant remember what you had for breakfast. Emotion makes things memorable. This isn’t just an axiom, its biological science. There are specific, easy things you can do in any type of story to entice the brain to store the information away.

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Educational Storytelling: Constructing the Tale, A Hero’s Growth

This post is part of a series that explores the Basics of Educational Storytelling. Largely taken from my master”™s thesis, The Value and Principles of Educational Storytelling (which can be read here), this I will lay the foundation for an educational storytelling model regardless of setting and medium. We look at the basic elements of storytelling, five guiding principles and educational stories, and practical tips.

Check out the rest of the series.

We are using the Hero’s Journey as a skeleton for our story. If you want a full breakdown of the Hero’s Journey, check out my this series. I have boiled this down to five pieces of the Journey, each with an important task. Last time we covered the first three. Today, the last two.

  1. The Hero and the Cast of Characters
  2. The Hero and the Ordinary World, Broken
  3. The Hero and the Journey
  4. The Hero and the Moment
  5. The Hero and the Repercussions

Don’t forget our first guiding principle: Hero Audience Bonding.

We create a hero the audience can learn through, vicariously. As the hero progresses through the story, learning and problem solving, the audience will learn the same lessons “” given they have bonded with the main character.

Learning Goals

As this is an educational story, there are objectives. We want the students to learn something. It is important to define what these objectives are. They can be identity oriented learning (morals) or process oriented learning (math) goals. And, there may be several goals. Perhaps along the road to learning the dangers of lying, the hero also learns the distributive property and bits of the scientific method? Whatever the case may be, establish theme to yourself early so you can keep on focus.

The Hero and the Moment

Heroes must make a multitude of decisions along the journey in order to be a willful character. She does not necessarily have to make these decisions alone. In fact allies are some of the most important aspects of a compelling story. These allies function as mentors, moral compasses, and even shape shifting enemies at times. However, there comes a time when the hero must make the final set of decisions alone. She must stand at the last threshold, face the final antagonistic force, and accept the consequences of those decisions.

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Educational Storytelling: Constructing the Tale, A Hero’s Journey

This post is part of a series that explores the Basics of Educational Storytelling. Largely taken from my master”™s thesis, The Value and Principles of Educational Storytelling (which can be read here), this I will lay the foundation for an educational storytelling model regardless of setting and medium. We look at the basic elements of storytelling, five guiding principles and educational stories, and practical tips.

Check out the rest of the series.

Finally its here! We have discussed the value of educational storytelling, the different elements of story (plot, setting, character), and one of the guiding principles of stories that teach. Now it’s time to dig into constructing stories for education. What is the skeleton of an educational story?

We will use the Hero’s Journey as a skeleton for our story. We first looked at this journey. There is a comprehensive series elsewhere on my blog.

I am a fan of simplicity. Many Hero’s Journey outlines include 12 or 15 stages plus a dozen archetypes. I have boiled this down to five pieces of the Journey, each with an important task.

  1. The Hero and the Cast of Characters
  2. The Hero and the Ordinary World, Broken
  3. The Hero and the Journey
  4. The Hero and the Moment
  5. The Hero and the Repercussions

We will walk through the first three this week and the final two next week. As we work through this, remember our first guiding principle: Hero Audience Bonding.

We create a hero the audience can learn through, vicariously. As the hero progresses through the story, learning and problem solving, the audience will learn the same lessons “” given they have bonded with the main character.

Learning Goals

As this is an educational story, there are objectives. We want the students to learn something. It is important to define what these objectives are. They can be identity oriented learning (morals) or process oriented learning (math) goals. And, there may be several goals. Perhaps along the road to learning the dangers of lying, the hero also learns the distributive property and bits of the scientific method? Whatever the case may be, establish theme to yourself early so you can keep on focus.

The Hero and the Cast of Characters

The hero is not the only character in your story. Supporting characters, villains, mentors, even talking trees all have a place in the tale. When we went through characters, we listed several archetypes essential to the Hero’s Journey. Those character types are also relevant here, and they each play a specific role in teaching.

Each character is an archetype and  has a connection to the hero.

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Hero Audience Bonding in Educational Storytelling

This post is part of a series that explores the Basics of Educational Storytelling. Largely taken from my master”™s thesis, The Value and Principles of Educational Storytelling (which can be read here), this I will lay the foundation for an educational storytelling model regardless of setting and medium. We look at the basic elements of storytelling, five guiding principles and educational stories, and practical tips.

Check out the rest of the series.

So far, we have discussed the value of Educational Stories, and looked at the basic elements of storytelling (character, plot, and setting) and ran through an overview of our guiding principles for educational storytelling. The first is Hero Audience Bonding.

Throughout the rest of this series, we will talk about two kinds of learning: Identity/Social oriented and Process oriented. Identity oriented learning is that learning which stories have traditionally been useful: teaching morals, self-esteem, and social behavior. Process oriented learning has gotten less story-limelight. This is learning in disciplines like math and science, where the audience is capturing processes and methods for reproducing results.

Storytelling can be used for both types of learning, and we will discuss each. The cornerstone of educational storytelling is Hero Audience bonding. In short,

We create a hero the audience can learn through, vicariously.

As the hero progresses through the story, learning and problem solving, the audience will learn the same lessons — given they have bonded with the main character. So, what makes a hero “bondable?” Identification, empathy, complexity, and a want, a wound, and a need.

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Elements of Story: Setting

This post is part of a series that explores the Basics of Educational Storytelling. Largely taken from my master”™s thesis, The Value and Principles of Educational Storytelling (which can be read here), this I will lay the foundation for an educational storytelling model regardless of setting and medium. We look at the basic elements of storytelling, five guiding principles and educational stories, and practical tips.

Check out the rest of the series.

See also Elements of Story: Character and Elements of Story: Plot

Building Blocks of Story

Before we can tell great educational stories, we must learn to tell great stories. Three of the greatest storytelling teachers of our time — Robert McKeeChristopher Vogler, and Donna Cooper — have spent their lives discovering what makes a story work. I have synthesized their researcher so that we can stand on the shoulders of giants.

Working from our basic definition of story:

A person (character) doing something (plot) in a place and time (setting).

Setting

Robert McKee (1997)

McKee defines setting as the period, duration, location, and level of conflict. “These four dimensions frame the story’s world; but to inspire the multitude of creative choices you need to tell an original, cliche-free story, and you must fill that frame with a depth and breadth of detail” (p. 181 ). In other words, the author of a story must create a world that is as believable and real as the world we all exist in. The fictitious world, may not follow the same laws of nature, but must work according to a sense of internal logic (p. 186).

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Elements of Story: Plot

This post is part of a series that explores the Basics of Educational Storytelling. Largely taken from my master”™s thesis, The Value and Principles of Educational Storytelling (which can be read here), this I will lay the foundation for an educational storytelling model regardless of setting and medium. We look at the basic elements of storytelling, five guiding principles and educational stories, and practical tips.

Check out the rest of the series.

See also Elements of Story: Character and Elements of Story: Setting

Building Blocks of Story

The term “story” can be defined in a thousand ways. Believe me, I’ve done the research. Many of these definitions are important, wielding long lists of elements and features, but are a bit overly complex for our purpose today. For an introduction to educational storytelling, and a primer of story itself, let’s stick to the basics. A story is:

A person (character) doing something (plot) in a place and time (setting).

As I did in the previous post about Character, I will synthesis the teaching from three of the greats. Robert McKeeChristopher Vogler, and Donna Cooper are three of the most respected screenwriting and story construction teachers. While they teach screenwriting, the principles they have discovered are effective in any medium.

Plot

We have our person (or dolphin or alien or teapot) that acts as a character, but that character must do something. In all but the most experimental stories, the protagonist (the main character) is a willful character, not ambling around waiting for something to happen. In most cases, there was some event (inciting incident) that drives the character forward. You can structure this in many ways. This is the plot. Let’s see what our experts have to say.

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Fellow Revolutionaries in Transformational Storytelling

My research centers around transformational storytelling, multimodal, interactive storytelling, and (to a large degree), differentiated instruction . I advocate using new technology as one means of telling these life-altering stories. It all basically comes down to

How can we tell engaging stories that teach, heal, and transform lives?

That’s a pretty simple, pretty powerful concept. And, like all things simple and powerful, it is shared by many others. Educators, scholars, artists, pastors, counselors, and many others are tackling the ideas of digital and transformational storytelling. This is a revolution — a revolution worth joining.

To that end, I wanted to start a conversation in hopes of bringing some of these revolutionaries together. These are a few of the individuals and groups who have inspired me by tackling difficult challenges in innovative ways. This is not a complete list, and it isn’t meant to be. Nor does this list include many of the scholars on whom I draw for theoretical foundations. I will post about the giants upon whose shoulders I stand another time.

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Elements of Story: Character

This post is part of a series that explores the Basics of Educational Storytelling. Largely taken from my master”™s thesis, The Value and Principles of Educational Storytelling (which can be read here), this I will lay the foundation for an educational storytelling model regardless of setting and medium. We look at the basic elements of storytelling, five guiding principles and educational stories, and practical tips.

Check out the rest of the series.

See also Elements of Story: Plot and Elements of Story: Setting

Building Blocks of Story

Before we can dive into educational stories, we must investigate stories in general. Scholars and storytellers share a favorite past-time: arguing about the elements of a story. Some definitions include close to a dozen like setting, plot, character, theme, motif, symbol, point of view, and so forth. Since this is an introduction, and not a series on the elements of story, we will stick to a simpler definition of a story:

A person (character) doing something (plot) in a place and time (setting).

I will stand on the shoulders of three storytelling giants to look at each element in turn. Robert McKeeChristopher Vogler, and Donna Cooper are three of the most respected screenwriting and story construction teachers. While they teach screenwriting, the principles they have discovered are effective in any medium.

Character

So, we begin with character. What exactly is a character?

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Series: Individual Differences, A Primer

Individual Differences in Education and Storytelling

As we march through a series on Educational Storytelling, it occurs to me that a basic understanding of Individual Learner Differences will be important. Everyone is different: we learn differently, enjoy different things, and respond to different elements in different ways. If we truly want to create stories that are transformational for a lot of people, we must learn to borrow theory and methods from those who teach diverse students every day.

Simply put: until we understand how people learn and learn differently, we can never craft stories that teach individuals effectively.

So, this short mini-series introduces concepts important to Individual Differences in Instruction and Storytelling. These short posts are meant to be foundational, just starting point toward topics like Differentiated Instruction, Intelligence, Learning Styles, Cognitive Development, and Multimodal Storytelling.

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The Value of Educational Storytelling

This post is part of a series that explores the Basics of Educational Storytelling. Largely taken from my master”™s thesis, The Value and Principles of Educational Storytelling (which can be read here), this I will lay the foundation for an educational storytelling model regardless of setting and medium. We look at the basic elements of storytelling, five guiding principles and educational stories, and practical tips.

Check out the rest of the series.

Joy of a Tale Well Told

Stories hold power. They captivate our imaginations, transport us to places unseen, and let us explore parts of ourselves otherwise hidden. They are great fun. But can story be more? Can stories teach? Do they show us how to act, what not to say, and how to be us? Are some narratives examples to live by, and pictures of what to avoid. Can stories effectively be used to teach, heal and transform lives?

Stories are part of humanity, and have been ever since, and probably before, humankind took to speech. John Niles (2010) even went as far as to call humankind Homo Narrans, “storytelling man.” And as long as people have been telling stories, others have been analyzing, dissecting, and using stories for very intentional reasons: to affect the behavior and identities of individuals or entire populations. Cultures have developed myths, legends, and works of fiction core to identity, history, and moral behavior, and the transmission of knowledge. This is not a past society phenomenon. Narrative still shapes our daily lives, be it intentional or unintentional. It seems that stories can be a great deal more than fun.

Stories, Language, and Identity

Stories can be used in formal educational settings. One such use is to introduce foreign cultures to local students in captivating ways. The modern classroom is diverse, many students know little of their heritage or the heritage of their peers. According to Campano (2007) “one of the most powerful interventions that teachers can make for immigrant students is to celebrate the human and academic value of their stories” (p. 48).

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