Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Engaging Students with Stories #EngChat #EdChat

For those who have spent any time with me, they know I have a story to tell. No matter the situation, I've got a weird, funny, interesting (to me), and crazy story to share. As I sit back and reflect on my lessons and units, I always try to find the piece that made the students engaged. Often, it's a silly story from my life or the lives of students that rope students in.

I'm going to be starting our Gothic Unit in a couple of weeks and I love to tell a good ghost story. Students love a good ghost story and they are perfect to get kids hooked on this type of unit. I share some scary stories from my personal experience and others I've heard over the years and the class discusses how these stories share similar elements with the ones we have read from Poe. I could have just written the Gothic Story elements on the board, directed students to examples in the stories we have read or are about to read and test them on these items later in the unit. That is just awful.

The more I look at this lesson, it's not just my stories that have hooked the students, it's the fact that I have given them a chance to tell their story and make their own personal connections to the elements we are discussing in class. My stories are the starting point, never the end point. I want to create an environment where students feel comfortable sharing a story or two in class and personally connecting to the topic. I feel like this is the big step teachers need to take in connecting with students and increasing student engagement. If the students feel like they can share, they will feel part of the class and will learn by sharing.

I love hearing the stories my students share and I love the connections they make even better. It might be hard in other subject areas to tell stories and make connections, but if you truly love your content area, share the stories of why you love it and the students will make the connections for you.

Homework: Share a good story with your students and listen to a few good ones from them.