Archive for February, 2005

2nd February
written by Tom Banaszewski

Yesterday, out at the high school, working with my emerging group of young digital storytellers, was a day that could sum up what I love about teaching and what I find most challenging. As a teacher, I see my primary role as a bridge builder between something a student does not know and the obvious other side of the bridge. In this particular case, the other side of the bridge was creating a coherent, engaging story, actually I would have settled for just a coherent story at this point.

Two students at two very different stages of the story process. Student A had been working on a transformation story about how he’d changed in his four years of high school. He had the basic frame of a story. Last week, we had gone over some basic story mapping. The shark metaphor seemed to really sink in for him. He mapped the story a bit more, but still didn’t have a strong story. I suggested he make a timeline of all the important events in since his freshman year. I think story coaching is a trial and error kind of process. You’re never really sure what’s going to click with a person. The timeline was the ticket for this student. It was not only instrumental as an aid to giving a practice telling to the group, but helped him find his main message for the whole story.

These story coaching techniques involve no technology whatsoever, but could easily be recreated in a Flash environment. It won’t be the same as having a human story coach, but students need the widest range of resources available to them when working on personal narratives. They won’t always be so trusting to listen to the adult’s advice. They may need to work up to that point of comfort of sharing their story ideas with the teacher.

I want to talk more with Doug Lipman, Jay O’Callahan and other story coaches. I want to know what they think of digital stories and how that coaching process changes, if at all, when you create stories with digital media. I remember thinking last year that the solution would be to find a way to write a program that emulates what Jay and Doug do in their workshops. I’d rather provide tools and models and resources all in one online environment where the digital storyteller has a place to turn when they’re stuck or lost in their story development.

Ali Mazalek presented some really interesting work today on campus. Her work on tangible interactive storytelling systems provided yet another option for students to practice their story skils. It’s hard to understand exactly how a system works from a PowerPoint presentation, but she seemed to have a strong focus on assisting the actual story creation process. It was unclear what exactly her definition of "story" is, but that seems to be the case with most interactive story systems.