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. 


  1. I like to tell stories as well. Sometimes it is about a situation when I was in high school or a weird experience over a weekend/break just to make them laugh. Other times its related to the topic and I've seen a good story on tv or read it in a book/blog. I think students like to hear the stories because 1. it furthers the notion that we are human (you know students think teachers are 'different') and 2. it lets them know we've 'been there'. Teens like to tell their stories, they like to be heard and to connect to you/the topic. I find many of their stories interesting and usually pretty funny.

  2. It is always great to learn more about our students and their experiences. Making connections is a huge part of engaging students and hooking them. However, it can also be very time consuming to have 37 students share their stories. Turn and talk or partner share will give everyone a chance to speak and then maybe a few will also be willing to share with the whole class. Of course every student needs to build their public speaking skills so we have to have varied approaches and options to class sharing.

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  4. I agree that by storytelling you are making a more personal connection between the student and the subject and also to you. I think this makes the subject feel more real instead of just material they must learn. I love to tell stories in my classroom! fcc1_pln

  5. I am currently enrolled in an education program, and hoping to one day be an English teacher. I am constantly trying to find new ways to relate to students and make the connection. I know that is such an important aspect of having a thriving classroom. Have you ever thought about having them write their own ghost stories using gothic elements? I had a teacher who had students write in poetry forms in order to have the forms stand out more in minds. I know for myself it worked!


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