Saturday, September 18, 2010

Welcome and Our Experience Using Story as an Instructional Method

Good morning my true believer friends,

I thought this might be a great space for us to share what we are learning about learning and leadership. Also a place for us to keep in touch. 

I will get us started here with a place to share what we are learning about storytelling as an instructional method.  Some of us got together this week (September 16th) and during the conversation there were some comments made about how many of you had recently used story in some form with your teaching.  I invite you to share what you did and how it worked.

I'll start by sharing that the 30 minute teaching demonstration that I did on using story as an instructional method went very well.  I used a story/poem to start the demonstration titled "The Naked Truth and Parable." I also used a story review strategy as a way to discover what people had learned at the end of the demonstration. Thanks to the feedback I got from many of you through the opportunity to practice twice. I previously sent you all a copy of the document I put together summarizing the research I had done on the topic.

Have a great weekend,



  1. You can access the document titled "Using Storytelling (narrative imaging) as an Instructional Method" in Google docs at this URL


  2. Today I'm trying having students create a story. They just completed an exam on the first portion of our class and to further review the material and hopefully create deeper connections I gave them 4 major concepts and asked them to create a story the incorporates these concepts. The first run through (teaching this class 3 times today) went great! They were creative, funny, dramatic and most importantly showed they truly understood the concepts and how they interrelated.

  3. Karen Barr gave me permission to share her recent experience with using story as an instructional method in her Business Statistics class. Students continue to have trouble remembering the meaning of the words mean, medium and mode. This semester Karen asked small groups of students to come up with 1 to 2 lines to help them remember. Here is an example of what one group developed:
    The average mean man frequently “modes” the middle median of his yard.
    Karen is interested to see if this strategy results in longer term understanding of these comments.

    Karen also tried this same strategy in a different class with more abstract concepts and found that it wasn’t as successful. She thinks it may have been too abstract for the first time using this approach.

  4. Trey, I want to be sure I understand the context. Is this right? The students took an exam on the concepts and then you ask them to create a story using those same concepts. So they knew the concepts pretty well and the activity was a review in preparation for new material.

  5. Beth,

    You are correct. I realized, they demonstrated their understanding of the concepts by applying them on the exam but they were (as often is the case in an exam) applied individually. I wanted them to take their learning to the next step and see the connections between the concepts along with the connections between themselves and individual concepts.

    In this case they had to connect the idea of a Public versus Private Self, Conformity and/or Compliance, Self-Confidence and/or Self-Esteem and a major theory on personality we covered.

    An example: Little Johnny was conditioned by his parents through rewards and punishments (behaviorism personality theory) to listen to and respect his elders. As he grew up this conditioning helped him realize that complying to his works demands and presenting a positive public self (i.e. dressing nicely and acting appropriately at work) improved his self-confidence at work. While Johnny wore a suit and tie to work on the weekends he was a Harley enthusiast (private self) who conformed to the norms of this social group. His overall success and ability to manage both personal and professional demands increased his self-esteem.

    In the future, I'd like to either try this as a review prior to the test or as part of a test or another formal assessment to demonstrate their understanding.

    At the same time I like being able to come back to the material this way as it shows the students that just because we finished an exam it does not mean we are done with this material. It will continue to be relevant and I will expect them to continue to apply it.


  6. Trey,

    I get what you are doing. Very cool and effective. The act of retrieving information is a potent learning event in and of itself. Plus the more often our brain goes back to information the stronger the connection becomes. I am in the process of writing up a summary of a great article on memory and metamemory. By asking your students to now develop a story with the concepts you are introducing another new situation or cue to use to help access the information. The article emphasizes the need for multiple encodes to help us easily access critical information. This is so cool!!!!! I hope to make the article summary the next new post for us to discuss. I do hope others join us. Beth

  7. Wow - the scenario you set up regarding the mean, median and mode just confused the HELL out of me... I'm thinking the story might be more useful if the students could explain a story in which they talk through the differences between them and apply them to a real life scenario.

    I'm thinking back to the class I was doing for SQL training - when I would try to explain a concept, I would try to use an example from a real life tool - rather than trying to use the made up example from the book. That way, we could then take a look at the REAL problem and see how it was affected by the different options (of course, this would only be in a read only environment :))