It's funny when someone makes the suggestion on a blog idea. This one is important though. I can't think of a time in my life when so many changes were happening at one time, both locally and nationally. Many of these changes are driven by political views, not about what really matters, our future. I am not here to display my views, but to emphasize why it's important to tell our story.
My Favorite Story Teller
I grew up in a small town in Missouri and the old saying "it takes a village" was very much my story. Raised by a single mom that had to work multiple jobs to make ends meet, many people stepped in to help out. My Grandpa Bradley has always been there as a father figure, as well as my Uncle Randy; the two of them truly helped shape my personality are paramount in the foundation of who I am as a person. One of my favorite things about my Grandpa is that he always has a story, and usually one that involves groups of people laughing uncontrollably.
One particular story he likes to share was the time he took me to Colorado when I was 10 years old. Let me point out that I was his only grandson, and therefore pretty spoiled. We had just passed the Air Force Academy as a gnarly gang of motorcyclists passed. Grandpa said, "Roll down that window and tell them boys, do you know who I am? The only grandson of Bradley Burr, that's who!" So I did it - to every motorcyclist that drove by - must have been 30 of them.
Grandpa tells important stories too; since my mom, his daughter, passed away almost 2 years ago, he's been good to tell me stories I've never heard before about her. He talks about how she would take risks - I won't share what those were - but I think I got that skill from her. She would have turned 63 today.
My Grandpa continues to teach me how important it is to pass meaningful stories down the line. I want to make sure my kids understand these same values. What does this have to do with education you may ask? Next I'll discuss why it is important in education to tell your stories; otherwise someone will tell it for you.
You read it everywhere - stories that attack public education. The appointment of Betsy DeVos to education secretary, an avid supporter of the school choice and charter schools, has caused concern across the United States when it comes to funding and the direction the federal government want to take public education. While many of us are aware of the countless hours of dedication and service happening for our kids everyday, our community may not always be as aware. As educators, each of us have a role to play in helping our external audiences understand the contributions made inside our classrooms each day. Now more than ever, we have an opportunity to inform people about the innovation, the magic happening at our schools.
Importance Of Teaching Students How To Storytell
Several years ago, I had the amazing opportunity to work with Dyane Smokorowski and Shannon Fisher. Dyane, through digital storytelling, showed me how students make connections to interdisciplinary skills. Shannon, did the same, but through a unique way of producing stop motion videos. Both examples can have a magical effect -- moving, enlightening, or entertaining audiences of any size. Think of movies you adore, movies you could watch again and again - those are meaningful when they showcase their learning. This is a really good vehicle to introduce project based learning into your classroom. It allows students to build context to content.
Things to keep in mind:
A great tool to showcasing student work is Sway. It’s a new way for you to create a beautiful, interactive, web-based visual of your ideas, from a mobile device or browser. It is easy to share your creation and its modern design forms itself to look great on any screen. Our Transformation Site that I reference below utilizes Sway to display much of the content displayed.
Announcing our Transformation Site
At Omaha Public Schools, we have worked tirelessly to transform learning through our work with our 5 year Strategic Plan. Much of this work has technology purposefully embedded as a priority. Through this Strategic Plan and the passing of the largest bond issue in Nebraska history, we have accomplished much in the last 3 years. Today I would like to share with you our Transformation Site. This site was produced by our instructional technology team and helps us tell our story on how we have:
So whether it's listening to amazing stories from family and friends, teaching students to create stories to make learning authentic, or as educators telling our story so that someone doesn't tell it for us, the activity of storytelling engages every culture as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation and instilling moral values. What will you do today that will make for a great story tomorrow in education?