So, another step into the unknown; the murky journey of the short story full of fantastical, wandering story lines, abrupt plot twists, over elaborate descriptions and unbelievable leaps from one scene to the next. I love storytelling, it is the most powerful form of learning there is. Language has developed from the oral story telling of past generations, cultures have evolved and taken on their identities as a result of the tales passed on from elders to their mokopuna and on again. We are who we are because of the stories of the world. Who doesn’t remember sitting on a parents’ lap lost in the imaginings of the stories they were read? I recall crawling into my parents’ bed with my three sisters on weekend mornings to cuddle up with my Dad as he told us the story of the fairies who hid in a huge wooden horse to conquer the goblins who were overpowering their kingdom. We begged for it over and over again and asked for more and more embellishments. It was only much later that I realised that the fairies’ wooden horse was actually the Trojan Horse!
Anyway, I digress. Cultures are built on myths and legends which help us make sense of the world around us and how it came to be. We thrive on real life stories – just look at the number of reality TV shows, soap operas that tell the stories of “real life”, and who hasn’t stopped to say “Oooh! Have you heard about ….? We are fascinated by people, by stories, by questions, by answers, by imagination, curiosity and invention.
So, my Year 9 English class and I have embarked on story telling. In the last week of term we explored 5 Card Flickr with interesting results as already outlined in a recent blog. I was lucky enough to spend some time with Alan Levine when he visited New Zealand at the end of September and talked to him some more about digital story telling. I only wish I had more time to explore the possibilities, but we have made a start. This week we used an idea I heard about as I was surfing the internet. Unfortunately, I didn’t make a note of the webpage so apologies to the initiator of this idea. We have called it #storymakers and the idea is that one of the class (this time it was me, just to get them started) puts a starter sentence into a Todaysmeet.com room and then everyone else continues the story until it ends. It’s a bit like the party game when you have to go round the table and keep the sentence going. We started with “One day I discovered a magic button….”
We had great fun and it was interesting to observe how they “developed” the story – some got a little bit carried away and relied on “waking up from a dream” when someone “killed’ the character off. It was challenging for them to have to think of the next line quickly and it was a quite a public forum although less public than having to say the next line out loud in an oral context. I wonder how we could encourage the flow of the story without having to do it so much under pressure? I wonder if that would lead to more thoughtful ideas? I am sure too that some of the students were embarrassed and were put outside their comfort zones because either they didn’t know what to say or they felt that what they wanted to say wasn’t good enough. Resorting to “crazy” ideas provides a “cover” of sorts. Maybe we could build the story over a lesson whilst doing other activities? The students could just keep an eye on the “Tweet” stream and see when it is their turn, or jump in when they feel ready…? Ideas to ponder… It was great though to see them all engaged and prepared to have a go,