My school recently had a professional development session where the presenter discussed the importance of making relevance explicit for students. In thinking about my own students and the short stories that they are getting ready to write, I began to think how many of them might not see a point. After all, how many Stephen Kings, Gary Paulsens, or Suzanne Collins do I really have in my class? I really wanted them to see that storytelling has its merits outside of academia.
The Guiding Question asks "Why might storytelling be an important part of our lives?" And, although, I already knew the therapeutic benefits of storytelling by reading the text set, I thought that the students would be able to say something like, "It helped pass on our history." When I asked this question, most students said something like, "Telling stories helps us write better." Certainly not what I was expecting, but that generic answer means that I anticipate a lot of growth this lesson!
For the first part of this lesson, the day before, we read an article called "A Better Way to Educate Through Storytelling." I thought this article was appropriate, because the students are being asked to tell a story and I'm educating them, so I really wanted to draw out the relevance.
For the mini-lesson, I really just wanted to check in with them to see if they had any lingering questions, or if they wanted to share any insights from the day before. This turned into a lovely sequeway into the text set I had prepared on Subtext.
Subtext, an app for iPads or other tablets, is amazing! You can load just about any text on it, assign it to a class, and the students read and silently discuss it with each other. Here is a video about how my students use it.
Anytime I give my students a text set, I want them to be able to choose what they get to read. I gave them a set of 4 articles, and only 30 minutes to read and discuss them--so there is automatically an element of choice.
The links to the articles I chose are here, but you could use any texts about the benefits of storytelling:
Because I didn't quite get the answer I wanted for the Guiding Question, and I really wanted to draw out the importance of storytelling outside of academia, I had my students literally go back to their Guiding Questions and revise them--adding what they had learned for the lesson.