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Posts Tagged ‘storytelling

Video Game Design with Elementary Learners

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In order to support interest and passion driven learning (all – I mean all – of my students play video games) as well as address cross-curricular content area integration of language arts, science, and technology standards, I had my gifted elementary learners, grades 2 through 6, do a semester long project on video game design.

Standards Addressed

English Language Arts Common Core State Standards

  • Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions).
  • Make connections between the text of a story or drama and a visual or oral presentation of the text, identifying where each version reflects specific descriptions and directions in the text.
  • Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.
  • Reference – http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/

Next Generation Science Standards

  • Define a simple design problem that can be solved through the development of an object, tool, process, or system and includes several criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
  • Generate and compare multiple solutions to a problem based on how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the design problem.
  • Reference – https://www.nextgenscience.org/

ISTE NETS for Students

  • 4a – Students know and use a deliberate design process for generating ideas, testing theories, creating innovative artifacts or solving authentic problems.
  • 4b – Students select and use digital tools to plan and manage a design process that considers design constraints and calculated risks.
  • 4c – Students develop, test and refine prototypes as part of a cyclical design process
  • 4d – Students exhibit a tolerance for ambiguity, perseverance and the capacity to work with open-ended problems.
  • Reference – https://www.iste.org/standards/standards/for-students

Unit Overview

The overview for this unit:

  • Introduction to Storytelling
  • Storyboarding with Storyboad That
  • Storyboard Presentations, Feedback, and Revisions
  • Create a Video
  • Design a Logo

Introduction to Storytelling

The following video and articles were reviewed with the learners:

Storyboarding with Storyboard That

Learners used Storyboard That to create the storyboards for their video games.

Storyboard That is a graphic organizer and storyboard creator . The program provides pre-made scenes, characters, text boxes, shapes, and other images to choose from,  Students are able to drag and drop these items into their chosen layout. Scenes are organized into locational and thematic categories (e.g. school). Characters are organized similarly and can be customized with hair color, eye color, and other edits. Text boxes allow the student to give voice to their characters. Shapes and additional images add props to the story. (https://www.edsurge.com/product-reviews/storyboard-that-product)

It was continually reinforced that their storyboards needed to include strong characters, settings, and plot.

Feedback

Learners presented their storyboards to their classmates. Their classmates asked questions and gave feedback using the questions from How To Write A Good Game Story http://www.paladinstudios.com/2012/08/06/how-to-write-a-good-game-story-and-get-filthy-rich/

They made revisions and additions based on the feedback they received.

Create a Video Game

Learners were then given the choice to create their video games using one of the following platforms:

Create a Logo for the Game

Finally, learners were asked to design a logo for their games. To add another element of fun, learners decorated sugar cookies with their game logo.

Examples

The Adventures of Jack by a 6th Grade Boy

the-adventures-of-jack-highres.png

His video game was created using Sploder:

His Game Logo:

IMG_8487

Save Mother by a 4th Grade Girl

the-trip-highres

Her video game was created by Bloxels:

Her Game Logo:

IMG_8482

Sam and the Dark Lord by a 2nd Grade Boy

blob-highres.png

His video game was created using Sploder:

His Game Logo:

IMG_2427

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

May 5, 2017 at 12:00 am

Storytelling Is Not Lecturing; Lecturing is Not Storytelling

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I sit in the lecture hall with 10,000 others waiting for my new teacher to speak. I look at my cell phone and silently groan that this in going to be a long hour; as long an hour as an hour can be as is typically the case when I listen to a lecture.   She begins, “Let me tell you about Uncle Willie.”  I take a deep breath of relief and settle in to hear her story.

I came at the age of three to Grandma and my Uncle Willie in this little town in Arkansas. Uncle Willie was paralyzed on the right side. My grandmother and Uncle Willie owned a little store in town, and they needed me and my brother to work in the store. So Momma taught me to read and write, and my Uncle Willie taught me to do my times tables. He used to grab me by my clothes and hold me in front of a potbelly stove, and with a slur attendant to his condition, he’d say, “Now, Sister, I want you to do your foursies, your sevensies, your ninesies.” I learned my times tables so exquisitely even now, 60 years later, if I’m awakened after an evening of copious libation and told, “Do your twelvsies,” I’ve got my twelvsies.

I was so sure that if I didn’t learn, my Uncle Willie would grab me, open the potbelly stove, throw me in, and close the door. Of course, I found that he was so tenderhearted he wouldn’t kill a fly. One day my Uncle Willie died, and I went to Little Rock where I was met by one of America’s great rainbows in the clouds, the black lady who led the children into the high school in the late fifties in Little Rock.

She met me and said, “There is somebody who is dying to meet you.” She introduced me to this handsome black man in a three-piece suit.

When I met him, he said, “I don’t want to shake your hand. I want to hug you.”

He then said, “You know, Maya, the State of Arkansas has lost a great man in losing Willie. In the 1920s, I was the only child of a blind mother. Your Uncle Willie gave me a job in his store, paid me 10 cents a week, and taught me to do my times tables.”

I asked him, “How would he do it?”

He said, “He used to grab me like this…”

Then I knew he was talking about Uncle Willie.

He said, “Because of him, I am who I am today, the mayor of Little Rock, Arkansas, first black mayor in the South.”

I look back at Uncle Willie, that crippled, black man in the South where lynching was the disorder of the day, I have no idea the range of his influence. But I know that when it looked for me like the sun wasn’t going to shine anymore, God put “a rainbow in the clouds” in the form of Uncle Willie.

I tell you my stories not to brag but to tell you about all of rainbows in my clouds.  You are the rainbows in somebody’s cloud.

. . . Maya Angelou tells the 10,000 educators who sat at her feet at the recent ASCD conference.  I exaggerated at the beginning about the expected boredom.  This would have been the case if the speaker started to lecture to me.  I knew Dr, Angelou would tell us stories and read us poetry.  She is a master of storytelling, poetry, speaking, and teaching; and the energy in the room was palatable as she spoke to us. I am a strong advocate against the use of lecturing for teaching which I discuss in detail in Who Would Choose a Lecture as Their Primary Mode of Learning? This does not mean I am against an educator standing in front of a group of learners to give procedural directions or to tell a story to teach a concept.  I have been challenged by colleagues because I really like TED talks but many of the best TED talks tell a story.  One of the most popular Ted talks of all time was Jill Bolte Taylor’s stroke of insight who told the story of her stroke and insights about the brain due to her her stroke. So what is it that makes stories such powerful teaching?

Stories are different. Stories have everything that facts wish they had but never will: color, action, characters, sights, smells, sounds, emotions–stuff that we can easily relate to. We can imagine ourselves doing, or not doing, or having already done, what the story describes. Stories put facts into a meaningful, and therefore memorable, context.  (http://www.forbes.com/sites/douglasmerrill/2013/03/08/a-story-about-stories/)

Brain Activity: Lecture versus Storytelling

Your brain on story is different than your brain when it is receiving any other form of information, including straight facts and data. There are proven intersections between neuroscience, biology, and story we cannot ignore. The threads of stories that we read, hear, watch, and click on affect us intrinsically. And tempt us as well. (http://www.psmag.com/navigation/books-and-culture/pulitzer-prizes-journalism-reporting-your-brain-on-story-why-narratives-win-our-hearts-and-minds-79824/#.U5ThF-oy85o.twitter It’s in fact quite simple. If we listen to a powerpoint presentation with boring bullet points, a certain part in the brain gets activated. Scientists call this Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area. Overall, it hits our language processing parts in the brain, where we decode words into meaning. And that’s it, nothing else happens. When we are being told a story, things change dramatically. Not only are the language processing parts in our brain activated, but any other area in our brain that we would use when experiencing the events of the story are too.  (http://lifehacker.com/5965703/the-science-of-storytelling-why-telling-a-story-is-the-most-powerful-way-to-activate-our-brains)

What follows is a graph of a student’s brain activity during a given week.  The student’s brain activity, the electrodermal activity, is nearly flat-lined during classes.  Note that the activity is higher during sleep than during class.

7127010467_2ca7cb95echttp://joi.ito.com/weblog/2012/04/30/a-week-of-a-stu.html

So what happens to the brain when being told a story?

We think in narratives all day long, no matter if it is about buying groceries, whether we think about work or our spouse at home. We make up (short) stories in our heads for every action and conversation. In fact, Jeremy Hsu found [that] “personal stories and gossip make up 65% of our conversations.”

Now, whenever we hear a story, we want to relate it to one of our exiting experiences.  That’s why metaphors work so well with us. While we are busy searching for a similar experience in our brains, we activate, a part called insula, which helps us relate to that same experience of pain, joy, or disgust. (http://lifehacker.com/5965703/the-science-of-storytelling-why-telling-a-story-is-the-most-powerful-way-to-activate-our-brains)

So my advice for teachers is that next time you feel the need to convey information via a lecture, create or find a story that illustrates those concepts and tell learners that story.  Matthew James Friday in his Edutopia article, Why Storytelling in the Classroom Matters describes the benefits of storytelling in the classroom:

  • Inspires purposeful talking, and not just about the story — there are many games you can play.
  • Raises the enthusiasm for reading texts to find stories, reread them, etc.
  • Initiates writing because children will quickly want to write stories and tell them.
  • Enhances the community in the room.
  • Improves listening skills.
  • Really engages the boys who love the acting.
  • Is enjoyed by children from kindergarten to the end of elementary school.
  • Gives a motivating reason for English-language learners to speak and write English.

Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today. Stories are the creative conversion of life itself into a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience. They are the currency of human contact. — Robert McKee

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

March 20, 2013 at 2:16 am

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