Novel Approach to Engaging Students in the 21st Century. Is newer always better?

Join young Captain Faramund and the Stowaways on a Journey to save the Earth's treasures!

Join young Captain Faramund and the Stowaways on a Journey to save the Earth’s treasures!

Whether I am discussing with colleagues, attending professional development sessions or reading teacher blogs, the conversations inevitably centre around how we can find “new” ways to engage the learners in our classrooms. What works. What doesn’t.  The conversation is not a new one. I’ve been a teacher for eighteen years now and can attest that this topic has, and likely always will be the main focus of discussion in education. Why?  The answer is obvious: The reason that we teach is that we want our students to learn!

I am a strong advocate for continuing the discussion and inviting change to our education system where it is warranted, and I applaud the many individuals who are continually trying  to make our “systems” better. However in this post, I want to pose the question:  Is new always better?

Let me explain.  What I am trying to say is that some teaching methodologies are tried and true. They have always worked and always will. They have always engaged learners because the technique employed has universal appeal.

I believe that one such technique is story telling.  Everyone loves a good story and everyone goes away from a story, having learned something new.  The oral traditions of the  indigenous peoples had it right! They used the art of storytelling to help their youth connect to real life situations and learn from them. Through story, games and real life experience everyone learned what they needed to know to function in their world.

Why is story so effective? Because a good story allows us to connect with the characters and see, feel, hear and experience through them.   “Story” involves emotional connection and emotional connection activates learning! This is the very basis for my novel, “The Jewel of Peru” and the concept of  Quest Teaching. I asked myself, What if I were to write a novel that uses the curriculum as the plot and allows the students to use the story to connect the concepts they must learn?  Of course the story must  exciting and engaging literature first, also curriculum centered.

In the Jewel of Peru, I believe I have achieved it!  The story  brings the magic of the age old art of storytelling into the 21st Century classroom by deliberately weaving the social studies and science curriculum throughout the plot.   If you must teach your students about environmental responsibility, rocks and minerals, building and structures,hearing and sound, animals, community, quality of life, global connections, or geography and resources, then this novel has it all!

In my classroom the result has been amazing. My students loved it!  A free preview of the first chapters can be found at:   Try it as a read aloud to use as a hook for your lessons. It works!

As educators I say that we  use the tried an true methodologies that we know work, but continually strive to use present technologies that allow our students  to engage with the concepts in meaningful ways.  A strong marriage of current technology and  existing best practices will yield a beautiful family of life long learners!

Comments (3)

  1. Storytelling aids children in literacy and comprehension by making visual and mental connections with the story being told.

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