Tag Archives: storytelling

If Something Bores You, Dig Deeper

I caught a bit of inspiration at the tail end of the following TEDEd video, “The Wacky History of Cell Theory.”

The video conclude with the following quote:

If something bores you, dig deeper. It’s probably got a really weird story behind it somewhere.

Of course, as professionals who have chosen to teach our favorite subject(s), little about these subjects bore us. However, that doesn’t often apply to our students. Many topics bore them. While the message in the video could apply to students taking some initiative to dig deeper for those “weird” stories behind “boring” content, the responsibility also lies with teachers to find and share these stories.

Storytelling is vastly overlooked in a standards-driven educational environment. However, just because standards and curriculum direct what we should teach it doesn’t mean that we can’t find new and interesting ways to deliver said content. Imagine how much more engaged students would be if there were stories like the one above for every content strand and state standard.

Maybe some of our work or even casual reading choices this summer could be re-purposed for digging up these stories. Let’s find ways to tell the stories behind the topics that bore our students most. Better yet, let’s have our students dig up these stories and tell each other.

The key is to remember that all the content we cover in school has an interesting story or collection of stories behind it. This is what connects this content to the real world. Knowing that an idea learned in school has a story involving real people with common obstacles makes that content even more authentic in its origins. Plus, a really engaging story can be something to which students can connect.

How have you used storytelling to further your students’ understanding of a topic? Which topics lend themselves best to storytelling? In what ways could you imagine storytelling helping your students understand various concepts?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist and blogger with the eMINTS National Center.

Networks in Teaching & Learning

The “Networked” in Networked Teaching & Learning was a purposeful choice. Not only does it represent the “N” in eMINTS (enhancing Missouri”s Instructional Networked Teaching Strategies), but the idea of networked teaching and learning is a contemporary one that has many applications outside of education.

Most educators see the networked teacher as one who uses modern technology and Web 2.0 skills. However, to truly be networked, one has to think beyond a Twitter account or a classroom web page. The networked era of education is more than just the tools we use.

Networked Teacher Diagram - Update

Networks or networking are new ways to look at the organization of knowledge. Topics or don”t simply connect or lead to just one other topic or set of topics. Ideas, things, and phenomena connect to multiple topics, creating a complex system more closely resembling a We all remember the moment when justin-bieber-news.info fashion got bobbed his famous bangs, now, hair were not in vain. web than a tree.

For those of you steeped in theory as you take graduate courses, the idea of networks is a familiar one. No longer are things or ideas divided into dichotomous keys. Now we look at our world through a networked lens. Let”s have Manuel Lima explain…

How does this apply to schooling? On a very basic level, we have to look at our traditional structure of dividing disciplines into separate classes. A networked approach would result in interdisciplinary lessons that would incorporate multiple perspectives on one problem or issue instead of continuing to work on individual islands within traditional constraints. The same can be said for exploring the networks between grade levels, genres, schools, sectors, etc.

Recognizing networks allows us to see the real-world applications of what we do in school and to make those connections available for our students to discover. When students discover those networked connections, they begin to see the real world value in what they learn at school. In other words, authentic learning happens in the network.

How do you use a networked approach to better relate content to your students? How does networking knowledge alter your perspective on teaching and learning? How does technology make networked teaching and learning possible?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist and blogger for the eMINTS National Center.