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Teaching Stories

Most of us as educators are aware of the power of stories to teach life lessons. People have always handed down the traditions and teachings of their cultures through stories.

I have found that the power of the heros’ tale transcends age and time. Students are transfixed when I share Lovell’s story or tell them how my friend Lanson Kupau rose out of the depths of poverty to become a lawyer and a judge.

But my question today is whether or not you are using the power of stories to the fullest extent with our students. If you are, that’s great!

Here are a few tips to increase your story-power and make your stories come to life in the minds and hearts of your students:

  1. Make it Simple - Know your audience and target the outcome you want from the story. At each step along the way ask yourself, “What’s the point?” Then make sure that you are getting your point across.
  2. Make it Concrete - Use sensory images, facial expressions, and clear descriptions to bring the story to life. Don’t tell about it. Involve the audience in the events and action. Through sensory rich images that include visual, auditory, and olfactory sensations engage the audience in what the main character is experiencing.
  3. Make it Emotional - We are feeling beings. Emotions move people to action. Communicate the feelings of the hero through body language, facial expression, vocal tone and pacing. Bring the audience with you so they feel what the main character(s) is feeling.
  4. Wrap With a High - End with the great victory or victories that the hero experienced and the lessons gained along the way.

Finally, link the story to an open discussion. Ask the class to write a list of the lessons they gained from the story. This can be done either with the whole class, in a team or individually. Then discuss the lessons that can be learned with everyone!

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