Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Story: Capturing the Power

In Daniel Pink’s book A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age, he talks about a right-brained sense that we must master in order to perform well in this new era in which we live. We must move beyond the mastery of facts and focus on placing these facts into the context in which they reside. Story telling adds an emotional connection to information and this is important in educating the youth of the 21st century.

Before people started to record history with paper and writing utensil, a groups history was preserved through the stories that were passed down from generation to generation. By telling a story, one is remembering facts, but making sure they remember the context in which they are important. This helps others to remember the information being passed with more depth. Digital storytelling has such an impact because images and music can be added to enhance the mood and emotion behind the story, thus strengthening its learn-ability.

Digital storytelling is also a powerful tool in the classroom. In order to tell a story, you must remember the facts. Creating your story involves the ability to evaluate what is important and then synthesize a product that has relevancy and emotion. Remembering, evaluating, and synthesizing are all elements in Blooms Revised Taxonomy. It is through these thinking skills, lower and higher order, that true, deep learning takes place. The process that one goes through to create the story also addresses important 21st century literacy skills. The planning, implementing, revising and publishing of a digital product addresses many of the NETS-S standards.

In the “Portfolio” section of the sense of Story, I read about many ways people are trying to preserve the “story” of others. My father has taken his hobby of investigating our family history and turned it into a post-retirement business for himself. He has pages upon pages of charts filled with names and dates. It wasn’t until he began to include little snippets of stories about the people in those charts that my interest in looking through the book was spurred. He realize late in his project that asking some of the patriarchs and matriarchs of the family tell him stories of their ancestors would add such flavor to his pages of data. I can only imagine the impact it would have had to actually video these folks speaking and telling their stories. It gives me ideas of what I want to do now so that my children’s children’s children will “know” about me and my family through the stories I want to capture. Such potential!

Something else that I was struck by was Pink’s idea that in a world of such abundance, it is story that helps us to create and reflect on a life of meaning. He stated that most epic stories of all times have a certain formula in their design. The hero begins by experiencing some sort of discord in his/her beliefs. He/she looks to find balance between what was once thought or believed and what the reality of the situation is. He/she strives to create that balance and then becomes successful by making changes in either action or frame of mind. This is true in our own life’s journey and process of positive change. When something isn’t working, we come to the realization that something needs to change. It is our drive and perseverance in making the changes necessary that determines our success. That becomes our story.

I remember Mark Weston, one of our TEAM mentors for a semester, stressing the same type of change pattern that needs to take place in order for current educational practices to evolve into successful practices for students of the 21st century. In the book Schools that Learn by Peter Senge, he talks about “Systems Thinking” and how this can bring about change. It is through a joint effort in Administration, Parents, Teachers and Students that we can help to change past trends. Through observing, reflecting, deciding and doing, change can be brought about. Story can help in this process of reflecting and sharing those reflections with all involved.

Story telling is not just fluff. It is a substantial piece of life today and what needs to take place in the future. Internet resources such as YouTube blogs and social networking sites all help to capture a story. It has never been easier and now, more and more people are finding its power. I hope to focus on story’s ability to change, unite and educate.


JoAnn Estevez at Technology said...

Nicely written entry about storytelling and its educational significance. Great example of the family tree and the incorporation of the NETS standards and Bloom's Taxonomy.

Sharon said...

I agree that Digital Storytelling is an important piece. We, as educators, must make this piece important by enforcing the research, the planning and creativity used in designing a story. Many times, I have seen digital storytelling as just a few pictures thrown together with no story involved!

Adam Dugger said...

Very insightful Noel. Storytelling is certainly not fluff especialy when it is anchored in information that needs to be preserved and passed down just as the Native Americans and many people of the past have. Technology affords us new methods of doing this, and we still have the opportunity to inject our own interpretations through creativity. I think that it is wonderful that your dad is tackling such a project, but it's even more interesting how "story" has given it a deeper meaning for you.

Diana said...

Nice job Noel! I enjoyed reading your blog, especially after having read Adam's. You both chose to write about storytelling. As I commented on his blog, I haven't yet read the Daniel Pink book, but from your blog entries I can get the sense that it would be worth while. I also believe that story telling is an important way to remember information and something that is important to our culture. There are so many tools available to us through the internet that can facilitate this now.
Your blog entry was well thought out and supported with examples. Way to go!

Jung said...

Noel, It was a great chance to think about storytelling with the relation you made to other learning aspects and other learning standards- NETS & Blooms.
Truly, storytelling allows incredible process in thinking, like you added, "observing, reflecting, deciding and doing, and change." I also agree with you about the value and the power of storytelling through all kinds of web technologies that people learn a substantial piece of life and reflect and share their thoughts or opinions.

Phorka said...

You wrote a very thoughtful response to Pink. I particularly enjoyed the connections to Bloom and Senge, and I really enjoyed the connections to what we do as teachers. I know that for myself the most consistent challenge is in maintaining student motivation, which really means providing a reason to take interest in what we do. It becomes obvious pretty early on that data without context is meaningless. Storytelling is the method that provides a framework that allows students to take real ownership of the information uncovered in class.

Anonymous said...

Excellent blog Noel! I love your thoughts on storytelling. Storytelling itself is motivating. Think about how many times we have sat a friends house or in the falulty longe to listen to a “story” that someone has to share. Think about the American Indians, who storytelling is part of their culture. If you ever listened to an American Indian tell a story that has been passed on from generation to generation, you would be amazed. Story telling allows the creator and the listeners to create visualizations based upon what is being told. It’s motivating, as suspense is created as you anticipate what is going to happen next. One’s voice inflection can have us keeling over in pain from laughing so hard. Story telling is a wonderful skill that all students should learn. As you stated storytelling skills include the structure of different story genres, recalling facts, and incorporates all elements of Bloom’s technology. With all the technological tools available, individuals with diverse learning styles can tell their story in a variety of ways, while building upon their individual strengths.

Milagros Henriquez-Santiago said...

I agree that storytelling is a very important skill that many teachers take for granted. Many educators push it aside categorizing it as something used with early elementary students only, but the potential of digital storytelling with students and adults of all ages is only limited by creativity. I also think that the family history that dad is working on sounds very interesting and agree that personal stories would be a wonderful addition. I only wish that I had thought to do something like that a few years ago. My grandmother was Shinnecock Native American and one of the last people from my immediate family to still live on the reservation. It would have been great to have recorded or video taped some of the stories she used to tell us when we were little. I think its great that you are thinking about making something for you children's future.

Suzy Q said...

Isn't it great to know that technology is not a threat to the art of storytelling?! Instead it has not only enhanced it, it has supported its significance in our 21st-century lives.