Storytelling powers our most engaging experiences — learning is just another example. Here are my doodles from a couple of SXSWedu 2016 sessions centering on storytelling, along with a few added notes.
Creating Viral-Worthy Creative Classroom Content
How can you create classroom content that’s sexy, provocative, and sticky?
In a phrase: Tell the story of your course.
And tell it in a video. As someone on this panel quickly explained:
“We are hard-wired for video.”
What if my course is statistics?
Story still tells the “why” of the course.
Find the emotion you wish to evoke, and tell that story to engage the learners.
I was particularly intrigued with Zaption, an online service that allows you to easily turn online videos into more interactive instructional experiences, complete with commenting, quizzes, and analytics. With all the content already available through YouTube and Vimeo, this allows repurposing that content to meet specific learning goals.
Storytelling for social change
The New York Times writer had asked to write about Principal Nadia Lopez’s school, Mott Hall Bridges Academy, in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Principal Lopez insisted on conditions to ensure the story was not just another in the parade of poorest-crime-ridden-gang-infested-neighborhood-in-NYC angled pieces.
See, previously, Principal Lopez had searched the phrase “Brownsville, Brooklyn” online and found over 6 million links and references — overwhelmingly negative. She saw not a single positive story in over 6 millions links.
She knew that had to change.
After a midnight call to her friend, Syreeta Gates, Dream Director of the Future Project — “Do you know how late it is?” “Okay, I’ll call you in the morning” — and an early morning conversation, Principal Lopez decided to challenge her scholars (there are no students at Mott Hall Bridges, only scholars) to create an online magazine to tell their own story.
Explaining that decision to the NYT reporter was simple and direct:
“We had to tell the story you won’t.”
Intrigued, the reporter agreed to the conditions set out by Principal Lopez, and then spent several days observing Principal Lopez and her scholars in action.
The resulting article told a better story than all the previous NYT stories on Brownsville.
Another annual activity Lopez had already instigated was an annual fall walk across the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan with the 6th grade class. Despite living so close to the thriving heart of the city, most of these kids had never even been to Manhattan. So she took them there, walking across the bridge as a group to show them, yes, you can come here, and yes, you can work for those big companies in those tall buildings — if you work at it.
In short, Principal Lopez worked with her scholars to change the preset image of crime-ridden Brownsville, Brooklyn into inspirational Brownsville Brilliance. Search for that phrase online and you’ll find how storytelling has hoped raise the hopes and dreams and courage of these rising young scholars.
Not only have they learned how to tell their own story rather than listen to others bad-mouthing their neighborhood, but they developed mad skills in digital publishing — everything from photography to writing to editing to layout to upload and maintenance. How many other 13-year olds can claim — and prove — those skills?
Storytelling — it’s how we create and share meanig.