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Learner Assessments

This post is part of a mini-series introduction to Individual Differences in Instruction and Storytelling. I lay the groundwork for deeper adventures in Differentiated Instruction, Learning Styles, Personalized Stories, and the like.

Check out the rest of the series.

Every individual learns differently, processes information differently, and has unique interests. These factors form a Learning Profile. But how do we fill a learning profile? Is a student a kinesthetic learner or musical learner? What motivates her to learn? How much scaffolding does he need? To answer these questions, we must assess the individual.

Assessments are for more than just building a profile, however. They also measure growth. We all know of the controversies around standardized testing, and I don’t want to entrench this series in the middle of that debate. But whatever side you fall on, we must have a way to measure how effective our strategies are, how well students are learning, and where our opportunities lie. Assessments are the key. We do a pre-assessment and then a post-assessment. These assessments are not meant, necessarily, to position a student relative to other students, but to determine how they have grown in a certain area. Luckily, others have done a lot of the ground work for us. Below is a list of different types of assessments used in differentiated instruction.

Types of Assessments

From 25 Quick Formative Assessments for a Differentiated Classroom by Judith Dodge:

  • Summaries and Reflections. Students stop and reflect, make sense of what they have heard or read, derive personal meaning from their learning experiences, and/or increase their metacognitive skills. These  require that students use content-specific language.
  • Lists, Charts, and Graphic Organizers. Students will organize information, make connections, and note relationships through the use of various graphic organizers.
  • Visual Representations of Information. Students will use both words and pictures to make connections and increase memory, facilitating retrieval of information later on. This “dual coding” helps teachers address classroom diversity, preferences in learning style, and different ways of “knowing.”
  • Collaborative Activities. Students have the opportunity to move and/or communicate with others as they develop and demonstrate their understanding of concepts.

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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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Learning Profiles

This post is part of a mini-series introduction to Individual Differences in Instruction and Storytelling. I lay the groundwork for deeper adventures in Differentiated Instruction, Learning Styles, Personalized Stories, and the like.

Check out the rest of the series.

Be warned, this post is a little on the long side. I considered splitting it in two, but there was no good place to cut it.

We’ve talked about Learn Styles and Multiple Intelligences; basically coming to the conclusion that (duh) every person processes information differently. There are Linguistic, Mathmatical, Musical, Kinesthetic, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Naturalistic, and Spatial, among many others. The intelligences factor into a student’s (any student’s) Learning Style and shows us the best way to present information to that particular student.

This is very important, and we will talk more about how to do this as time goes on. But, a student’s Learning Style is only part of the equation. We are all more than brains seeking information to swallow. Humans are complex, social, broken, distractable, creative, and unique creatures. No two are alike. All of these other factors (along side Learning Styles) form a student’s Learning Profile. What follows is a somewhat incomplete list of other factors to account for when developing a student’s learning profile. In the next series post, we will combine all these together to create an index Learning Strategy for a particular student.

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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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Multiple Intelligence and Learning Styles

This post is part of a mini-series introduction to Individual Differences in Instruction and Storytelling. I lay the groundwork for deeper adventures in Differentiated Instruction, Learning Styles, Personalized Stories, and the like.

Check out the rest of the series.

The next stop on our journey through core concepts of Individual Differences in Education and Storytelling is an introduction to theories of intelligence, multiple intelligence, and learning styles.

For our purposes, we will build on a simplified version of Jean Piaget’s concept of Assimilation and Accommodation. In essence, Piaget noted that when individuals encounter and process new information, they must square that information with pre-existing information in their schema (stuff they already know). They can either adapt the incoming information or adapt what they know to absorb the new information.

A basic example:

A child sees a green firetruck. They know (their schema dictates) that fire trucks are red. This firetruck is green. Faced with this new, contradicting information, the child may assimilate the information by adapting the incoming knowledge. “This is a new kind of firetruck that is green. It is different than red firetrucks.”

Or the child can accommodate the information by changing what he/she already knows. “Firetrucks can be green or red.”

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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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Differentiated Instruction

This post is part of a mini-series introduction to Individual Differences in Instruction and Storytelling. I lay the groundwork for deeper adventures in Differentiated Instruction, Learning Styles, Personalized Stories, and the like.

Check out the rest of the series.

 

As I am hard at work adapting my master’s thesis for the series Basics of Educational Stories, I thought it would be a good idea to lay some groundwork in the area of education. One of the most exciting concepts in education today is differentiated instruction (DI). It may sound technical and scholarly, but it’s really very simple. Every person learns differently, processes information in a unique way, and has diverse strengths. DI is just a set of methods that run with this common sense idea. Instead of pounding knowledge into the student’s brain, DI teachers create an atmosphere where students of all ages encounter the material in a unique way.

This is imperative when discussing transformational stories because each audience member has a unique way of perceiving the world and specific  lenses everything is interpreted through. We will look at all this much closer in future posts, but for now, here is a great introduction from glencoe.com:

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Series: The Basics of Educational Stories

My research is largely devoted to transformational storytelling. That can mean many things: stories for education, therapy, counseling, moral instruction, identity management, and on and on and on. What’s more, the concept of stories that transform lives (like everything else in scholardom) has the potential to be very esoteric, theoretical, and abstract. These facets of any research are important, but I do not which to do research for research sake. If transformational stories are to change lives there must be practical applications with models and methods for applying them.

To that end, I am beginning a new series entitled The Basics of Educational Storytelling. Largely derived from my master’s thesis, The Value and Principles of Educational Storytelling (which can be read here), this series hopes to lay the foundation for an educational storytelling model regardless of setting and medium.

Specifically, we will explore the value, history, theoretical foundation, and basic use cases for educational storytelling as well as common elements of engaging storytelling.

I will describe Five Guiding Principles and explore the differences between teaching social-oriented principles (values, identity, etc) and process-oriented principles (math, science, etc).

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