Tag Archives: narrative

Putting It All Together

As I have been exploring a variety of different themes in eci831, I have been questioning how I can weave this altogether.  For my final digital project, I decided that the best way to do this would be to create a digital storytelling project with my students.  Enter Alan Levine and his fantastic session on digital storytelling last week.  See 50 ways to tell a digital story for your own great ideas.

For anyone  who hasn’t read my previous blogs, I have been looking at ideas around social justice, technology, and narrative education.  I have taken these courses separately for my Master’s degree and was wondering how I could use this course to create connections to what I have learned previously.  I want to embed all these ideas into the curriculum, not just touch on them as random lessons where I can fit them in.

With my students, I have spent the first part of the year discussing social injustice.  The students are very aware of how unfair the world can be.  I want them to expand on this idea and start questioning where they fit into this.  So far, the students seem a bit removed, thinking “this is too bad, but it doesn’t affect me; it’s not my fault; and there’s nothing I can do to make a difference.”

I am hoping that the digital storytelling project will help my students to expand on these ideas and start them thinking about their own personal responsibility for creating change.  In writing, we have been learning about narrative as a writing form.  So I created a google document outlining the elements of a narrative and added a few ideas around orientation and problem to start them thinking.  We also watched some digital stories such as Mike Wesch’s A Vision of Students Today and elder Mike Pinay speaking about the importance of hair in First Nation culture  (thanks to Racquel Biem for sharing this in her blog). The students started identifying labels that they have been given by teachers, parents, and other students.  We used this as a jumping off point to create our video.

I am looking forward to working out the digital aspect of this to create the final piece to share with both my students and this class.  Or I’m very afraid.  Not sure which.

3 Comments

Filed under Teaching and pedagogy

Where I Went: the narrative piece

Through taking a class on narrative (EC&I 804), I discovered some great resources for the classroom: The Meaning of Respect and The Elders are Watching by David Bouchard and Shin Chi’s Canoe by Nicolla Campbell are some excellent resources that address stories from a First Nations perspective.  Of course, there are many books out there that can serve as wonderful educational resources.

The true power of narrative comes from personal stories, starting with your own and branching out into the stories of others.  I read an excellent article, “An Inescapable Network of Mutuality: building relationships of solidarity in a first grade classroom”, by Epstein and Oyler (2008).  Although on the surface it seemed like a pretty basic premise: a former child-labourer who is now a maid is invited into a classroom to speak about her experience.  Through her retelling, the children are inspired to write and perform a play to help raise money for child-labourers around the world.  For me, the most powerful part of this article was how someone who traditionally has not had much power (a minority member working as a maid in New York), was now given power through the telling of her story.

This became very prevalent to me this fall when I started teaching at a new school.  This school is in an area of high SES.   Having never taught at a school like this, I have spent a lot of time questioning what I bring to the table.  What do I have to offer these students?  It seemed like they had already read all the novels I had planned as doing as a novel study, already done similar art projects to the ones I had planned, and already knew the math that I was teaching them.

I was encouraged to access all of the wonderful community resources available.  Many of the  parents are university professors, teachers, and business owners.  However, I just felt that by only accessing these resources, the students would be hearing stories that they had heard many times before.  These are the stories of those in power who fit in with the mainstream.  I am working to access other resources through immigrant and First Nation interviews.  It is my hope that my students will begin to see a different perspective through this process.

Any thoughts?  How do you teach students to understand that: a) there are different realities out there, and b) those realities might have something to offer them?

Resources

Epstein, S. E. & Oyler, C. (2008).  “An Inescapable Network of Mutuality: building relationships of solidarity in a first grade classroom.”  Equity and Excellence in Education, 41 (4), 405 – 416.

3 Comments

Filed under Teaching and pedagogy