Storytelling in the 21st Century

I’ve long been interested in different ways of telling stories (aside from the traditional, print forms that tend to be privileged in ELA classrooms). When I taught high school, I spent time teaching students how to “read” films and saw some solid success with that as students became much more critical about how they viewed films (not the negative “critical” but, rather, more thoughtful and analytical). Part of my motivation behind this was the sense that my students were likely to view more films in their lives than read books, so I wanted them to gain some knowledge of how stories are told through that medium.

Video games represent another medium with huge potential for storytelling and with a broad reach into the lives of many of our students. (Perhaps more so than film, as video games have surpassed films in terms of revenue.) Interactive storytelling has a long history (almost as long as the history of computers), and I recently came across one venue for this kind of storytelling that I think is worth a look. We’ll talk more about this in class when we discuss integrating technology in the classroom, but you might want to take a look at the story linked at the site below. (HINT: to begin, click on the red text and look for colored text throughout the story.)



Literacies for the 21st Century

weblitmapHanging out on Twitter this morning, I ran into an unexpected surprise in the form of this literacy map from the Mozilla organization (the same folks who bring you the Firefox web browser, but I think this comes from a non-profit arm of the company). I’ve never seen this resource before and, although I’ve only had a chance to briefly preview it, I wanted to pass it on to you.

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21st Century Cliff Notes

OK, when I was in high school English and needed some “help” with understanding an assigned book, I could avail myself of Mr. Cliff’s seemingly limitless knowledge of classic literature. (This venerable series was actually started by a man named Cliff Hillegass; I always wrongly assumed that Cliff was his last name.) You may have relied on these familiar yellow-and-black-striped books yourself, or maybe you spent more time with Spark Notes or Pink Monkey notes.

As a student I always felt a bit disingenuous consulting books like these, as if I were cheating somehow (even though I don’t recall any teacher explicitly forbidding us from using them). As a teacher, I encouraged my students to use resources like Cliffs Notes or Spark Notes since they helped them establish a clear sense of what was happening in the text; as a scaffold, these resources could be very helpful, as long as they didn’t take the place of reading the actual, assigned texts.

Today’s students, though, can take advantage of some hip, modern resources to provide both summary and helpful analysis of classic and even some young adult texts. Continue reading