84-Send your Kids on a Hero’s Journey with Storybird…Starring Samantha Hart and Merrick Kasper

Samantha Hart and Merrick Kasper strike a Charlie’s Angels hero’s pose

Episode 83 was a real treat for me. I yakked with Elontra Hall about something near and dear…storytelling. I’m so committed to enhancing this skill in the classroom, that I just couldn’t quit with one episode. What makes this episode so special, is I bring back the original sources. Samantha Hart and Merrick Kasper are here to explore storytelling from their perspective. What’s interesting, however, is that these two brilliant young folks don’t address teachers using stories, but instead kids using stories to peer teach.

My students used the hero’s journey template to enlighten their peers. Of course my buddies the Hyperdocs Girls have an outstanding hero’s journey template ready and waiting for you to copy and transform.

In addition to a peer teaching storytelling activity, these young ladies will also introduce you to a neat tool called Storybird. Storybird empowers kids to take a story and transform it into a beautiful and enchanting picture book. It’s remarkably easy to use and a highly recommend it.

My kids were meandering through a unit on India. We needed to grasp the impact of two remarkable individuals…Siddhartha Gautama and Ashoka. Here’s how we did it:

  • Students paired up…one took Gautama and one took Ashoka.
  • Each student then applied their subject to the hero’s journey template. Here’s my rendition which I created for this assignment.
  • Students made each page of their Storybird a phase in the hero’s journey.
  • Kids then enlightened their partner by presenting their Storybird.

Episode Template

The Problem:

Storytelling is underutilized.

The Solution:

Empower students to use storytelling to peer teach.

What you can do Tomorrow:

  • Designate two heroes in your current unit.
  • Pair kids up, with each partner taking a figure
  • Transform the hero’s journey template to suit your needs
  • Have students dedicate a page in a Storybird presentation to each phase of the journey

As I mentioned in Episode 83, storytelling is powerful…but you don’t have to be the only bard in the classroom.

Listen to “84-Send your Kids on a Hero’s Journey with Storybird…Starring Samantha Hart and Merrick Kasper” on Spreaker.

83-A Bard from Detroit Mesmerizes his British Students…Starring Elontra Hall

Elontra Hall @cloudscholar

April Domine, my former superintendent, once made a power suggestion. She encouraged me to read a book by Daniel H. Pink called A Whole New Mind. It was an amazing recommendation. The crux of the book is that the right side of the brain is going to be the star of the future. The subtext of the title says it all: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age. As I read this excellent book, I felt Daniel was verbalizing everything I’ve always felt about the learning process. And to top it off, he is a fellow Buckeye!

Daniel devotes an entire chapter to the power of story. In the opening part of the chapter, he refers to earlier parts of the book. One reference is fact-based. He challenges the reader to recall some important specific data point from one of the opening chapters. No doubt, most of the readers struggled to recall a specific statistic…I certainly did. He then asks readers to recall a fascinating comparison between the legendary John Henry, The Steel Driving Man, and Gary Kasperov, the chess champion defeated by the IBM computer in 1997. Both John Henry and Gary Kasperov demonstrated the limitations of even the most skilled and determined human in the face of advancing technology. When Daniel referred to these rich narratives, the feelings I had when I first read them, the moral, and many of the details, immediately surfaced on my hard-drive.

Here is what Daniel Pink has to say:

Our difficulty retrieving that isolated factoid, and our relative ease summoning the sad saga of Gary Kasperov, aren’t signs of flaccid intelligence or impending Alzheimer’s. They merely demonstrate how our minds work. Stories are easier to remember because, in many ways, stories are how we remember.

And here is where my guest Elontra Hall makes a grand entrance. Elontra is from Detroit, but he lives and teaches in the UK. The story about his migration is fascinating and will be explained in this episode. He and I became friends on Twitter and I instantly loved his vibe. I prompted him to be a guest. He agreed as long as he could talk about storytelling. I was totally down with that condition! 

Episode Template

The Problem: 

Students feel alienated from class content.

The Solution:

Engage kids profoundly through stories.

What You Can Do Tomorrow:

  • Consider how you can insert a story into tomorrow’s lesson.
  • Challenge students to ignite their storytelling abilities in the quest to peer-teach.

Stories are an awesome way to engage students as they learn. 

Listen to “83-A Bard from Detroit Mesmerizes his British Students…Starring Elontra Hall” on Spreaker.