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How to Use Storytelling in Lessons

With the emphasis on teaching for exams and preparing for inspections increasingly evident, the age-old artform of storytelling is showing signs of decline in British classrooms. Whilst helping children to achieve top results is important, it’s also crucial that we don’t sacrifice the innovation and freedom that comes with this powerful learning tool.

Despite its name, storytelling isn’t as simple as reading a story out loud. Instead, it incorporates rich language, physical movement, imagination, emotion and conceptualisation in order to reveal key details and turn words into visual imagery, also integrating collaboration as a means of encouraging input from students. This format of teaching is so valuable that there are even Storytelling Schools that focus on using it as a springboard for learning, assisting students to master both language and subject content.

What’s more, storytelling doesn’t just apply to reading and writing. By using it to engage students and welcome participation, it can be put into practice across the entire curriculum, even in subjects that traditionally lack narratives, such as maths and science. Whilst it can be tricky to perfect this method, it’s very easy to begin delivering it in your classes – all you need to do is explore ways to make topics more exciting and demonstrate how facts, figures and information can be linked to one another.

Here are some tips for creating impactful stories that children will enjoy and remember:

  1. Build a strong series of core elements that are at their most effective when in a specific order, leaving room for queries and creativity.
  2. To get students invested in a story, you must show your own excitement and passion from the start and throughout.
  3. Modulate your voice, make regular eye contact and use gestures to bring the subject matter to life.
  4. Metaphors and creative license add value to a story, providing they don’t disrupt the flow or obscure the facts.
  5. Rather than a nonstop string of statements, include the occasional question and invite the class to finish some sentences that revolve around previously learned themes.
  6. As with any story, there should always be an ending that sums everything up and provides food for thought.
  7. If possible, set a task for children to write their own mini story at the end of a lesson or module, as this will allow them to show their understanding and express individual perspectives.
  8. Most importantly, make it fun and memorable, as this will support your students in retaining the fundamental details that they need for exams and life alike.

If you still need convincing that storytelling is at the foundation of all information, simply pick up a newspaper, go to a favourite blog, log onto your social media channels, watch TV or simply ask a friend how their day was. You’ll soon see that people don’t simply list the particulars without adding visual triggers and expressive vocabulary. And if we as adults use storytelling on a daily basis, it seems only logical and fair that teachers champion its implementation in the classroom too.

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We specialise in marketing and design for the education sector. To find out more about how we can help, get in touch at hello@bigpinkfish.com or call us on 0161 507 3365.

Using Technology in the Classroom

The world that young people live in is very different from when we were kids, with technology and digital tools used for everything from checking facts to connecting with people around the world. Though many schools prohibit the use of smartphones, there are some interesting ways of integrating tech into your lesson plans.

Virtual field trips

When the budget won’t stretch to a field trip, modern digital platforms offer a virtual alternative. Google Street View is an excellent opportunity to wander around a capital city without having to leave the classroom, plus there are virtual tours and panoramic views for multiple cultural attractions, such as the Sistine Chapel, the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State Building.

Videos bring lessons to life

There are countless online videos that can be used to strengthen a lesson, from popular educator Eddie Woo’s maths lessons, to the delightful Art for Kids Hub, which shares daily exercises by a highly creative family.

Try video conferencing

If you contact a subject specialist, such as a children’s writer, illustrator or entertainer, but they can’t manage to visit in person, there’s a chance they could speak to your class via Skype or Google Hangouts. This way they can squeeze a session into their busy schedule much more easily and answer all of your students’ questions in real time.

Listen to podcasts

By mixing relevant podcasts with traditional teaching, you not only make the content more engaging but also blend auditory learning into the occasional lesson. There are so many podcasts out there, including those by children’s authors, experts in a range of topics, and interesting people who have tons of insight to share with your class. By listening to the podcast beforehand and making note of useful snippets, you can then pause and fast forward so that the children hear the most valuable bits.

Make all presentations visual and colourful

A far cry from overhead projectors, modern presentation tools allow animations, videos, sound effects and all kinds of other audio-visual elements to be added. This will greatly help to keep the students’ attention and can be great fun, which adds to the content being memorised.

Is your class on Twitter?

Many schools have individual year groups and classes that have their own Twitter accounts. This needs to be run by the teacher and permission does of course need to be gained from parents first, but once up and running it can be a fantastic way of finding information, joining Q&As and sharing successes. Mundella School in Sheffield is an excellent example, as every single class has its own account.

Set up a student blog

Websites such as Blogger.com provide multi-user blogs free of charge. Through a student blog, the children can talk about what they’ve learnt, their goals for the year, their personal achievements and much more. As always, the teacher needs to be in charge of adding content and must take into account any privacy/confidentiality factors, such as only referring to children by a first name or initial. You can have a lot of fun with this and if you’re looking for inspiration we recommend checking out the blog of Harrison Primary School in Hampshire.

If you’re interested in marketing and design services for the education sector, get in touch at hello@bigpinkfish.com or call us on 0161 507 3365.