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.