Some kids devour books at the speed of lightning, and yet for some merely uttering the words “independent reading time” activates their fight-or-flight response; however, one thing that all kids have in common is the love of a good story.
Stories aren’t limited to lengthy novels, or even books in general---that’s the beauty of them! Songs, movies, TedTalks, video-games, documentaries, and board games are all great ways of telling stories. The list of mediums that share a message in an engaging/easy way for the audience to understand and relate to (a key tenet for storytelling) goes on and on.
But why talk about the power of storytelling?
At its core, storytelling is a versatile tactic with the potential of drawing in learners who would ordinarily never be interested or feel confident in the subject at hand.
A story can make even the most threatening math equations feel less intimidating for younger learners, and can transform problems into motivation to advance and find out what happens next.
Storytelling is typically reserved for English and writing classes, and often underutilized in the STEM based classes; however, the untapped potential is there and ready to be used to engage all students.
That’s why today we would like to focus our Coffee Break Chat on a way to incorporate this method into science-based classes. Science can sometimes be viewed as lots of rules, processes, and vocabulary words, but in reality it can actually represent one of the greatest stories of all time: the story of living things!
Many students typically have a natural bend to both science and math classes or English and social studies classes, but storytelling can intrigue even the bookworm student who has never been interested in science.
For example: what if, instead of having students simply memorize the phases of the moon, kids were told a story about a bat on a mission to find his lost family before the end of the month, with the phases of the moon marking each step of his journey and playing a key role in the story?
Or perhaps students are struggling with memorizing the different internal parts of a cell and their functions. Maybe it would be beneficial for them to read a short story about an intelligent leader named Nucleus who controls his kingdom with the help of his trusty protector Cell Wall, and who are both significantly aided by their Commander in Chief Mitochondria, a powerhouse woman who makes everything happen.
Perhaps you’re teaching your students on the characteristics of living things, and how in order to be classified as “living” an organism must respond and react, have energy, grow, possess cells, use “chemicals of life,” and be able to reproduce.
That’s a lot to remember and understand, so maybe storytelling can help students retain and internalize these different factors. Perhaps you assign your students to either create their own imaginary living creature out of craft supplies at home, draw it, or describe it, and then write a short story describing how this organism fits all of these characteristics and could therefore be described as a “living thing.”
Below is an example of this assignment featuring an imaginary creature called the “Cuddlycoocoo,” how it fits the characteristics of a living organism, and how the student used craft supplies to create it at home:
Thanks for tuning in to today’s Coffee Break Chat, and we hope that you are feeling inspired by the potential that storytelling has to offer in every area of education!