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.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Get Ready for Blast Off!

Right now, I am watching the live feed of our brave astronauts getting ready for their repair mission of the Hubble Telescope. A few years ago, I had the privilege of meeting and having lunch with Michael Massimino, one of the astronauts on board, when he paid a visit to our school. I was excited to see this link sent to our school by the person covering my maternity leave. As I watch the astronauts getting suited up and being secured to their seats, I am experiencing an adrenaline rush, a rush I am sure they are experiencing at this very moment. Technology has given me this gift. What was once only experienced by astronauts and the people who work at NASA can now be experienced by anyone with an Internet connection. I am grateful to live in such a time. How many children are being inspired at this moment? What a gift....