In order to lead others, one needs to connect with them. In the classroom, this holds true as well. A teacher needs to connect with learners in order for him/her to lead them in their learning process. And as all educators will understand, this is much easier said than done. Nevertheless, educators are involved in leadership, whether in their classrooms, in their institutions or community. Regardless of the value that other members of society may impose on education, educators hold the future of a nation’s workforce in their hands. The better prepared a generation is, the more readily it is able to adapt to the challenges their world will place before them.
One approach is to make tasks meaningful to them. By personalizing their learning, by giving value to their interests and culture, learners are more receptive to connecting with the teacher. Tasks which spark these connecting processes are those which entail storytelling.
Digital storytelling does not need to be the use of a complex set of tools and platforms. For example, by using a tool like Fotobabble, one captures the imagination of students at different levels. I often ask students to take a few minutes to reflect on their favourite place on campus. From there, I set an assignment – they are to use their mobile phones to take a picture of their favourite place (and due to my cultural setting, I emphasize that no images of other female students are allowed). Once students have their photos, there are two steps one can take:
1- Students can send their photos to the teacher, who then creates a slideshow to present in class. This becomes a guessing game where students have to guess whose favourite place is being shown and why they chose that particular student. On the one hand there is the element of suspense – whose photo is going to be projected?; it fosters a stronger sense of group among the students as they get to know each other better or show how well they know each other; it also gives weaker students a chance to participate because they are not being asked to demonstrate any foreign knowledge, but knowledge of their peers and class. All learners are thus included.
2 – After students take their photo of their favourite place, they add a short recording about why it is their favourite place and how they feel there. Once they have embedded their Fotobabble in their blogs, the class is given time to peruse each other’s blogs, discovering each other’s special place on campus and adding comments.
Simple tasks in simple steps. Yet connections are made. Among learners and between learners and teacher. It’s a personalized task that demands a degree of reflection and then shared. And as all educators will know, students are more interested in each others’ opinions and choices than their teacher’s.
For anyone who has taken time to visit CristinaSkyBox, they will certainly understand that storytelling is an art that I greatly appreciate and share with students. Whether using Prezi, creating podcasts, or any other tools to tell stories, digital storytelling is captivating and engaging.
Storytelling is an art of leadership.
How do you have students share their stories? How do you connect with learners?