Thursday, May 05, 2005

Storytellers as Historians

When I taught biology, people used to ask me how students learned science. My response was always: Students learn science by doing science. How can we use digital storytelling in that manner? One of the best teachers I know just completed a storytelling project with his students-the assignment was to tell the story of their parents as teenagers...what did they remember about their teenage years, what were the most significant "happenings" that they remember, and how did that time shape their lives. So, students learning history by doing history, by being historians, and recording their parents history. How cool. As can be expected, the projects were awesome, with some great 70's music as the soundtrack to the stories of their lives. Debriefing with the kids provided some interesting insights; they enjoyed talking with their parents (!!) and finding out that they weren't so different than they are now, they learned things they never new about their parents, and the parents, based on their emails to the teacher, really enjoyed explaining that aspect of their lives to their kids. Talk about connecting.

One project that was completely compelling done by a young man from Thailand. He had beautiful pictures of Thailand, beautiful Thai music and pictures of both his parents as teenagers, and the voice over was done in his native language. He put in subtitles, but being a kid, they were done in a difficult-to-read font with poor contrast. But they weren't necessary. His voice inflection, the music and the pictures told the story and communicated what he needed to. He started by telling the other students that he wanted them to see another perspective, he wanted to tell the story of people growing up in another country besides America. It was an amazing piece-the other kids loved it. In my previous post, I talked about learning vs accomplishment. How much did this kid learn; how much did he accomplish? Everyone in that class was mesmerized by that story and it was clear that he had accomplished his goal. The next student told of his father growing up in Columbia and I'm wondering as I'm watching how great this process and assignment is for understanding multiculturalism and appreciating differences and similarities in people that no standardized test will ever, ever measure. What a great learning experience for kids, and congrats Mike!


Blogger Wesley Fryer said...

You are right on the money with your opinions here, David! We need an international project on oral histories recorded via podcasts too. If you know of anything like this please let me know! Please keep up the advocacy for oral history student archivists and digital storytelling! :-)

11:15 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home