Day-to-day practices that promote student achievement and the meeting of outcomes can at times be overwhelming and slow the creative process. When educators retire, what will be the fondest memories of the classroom: helping students meet outcomes, or helping students open doors that provide a gateway to personalized learning?
At the recent Leading in Literacy and Numeracy for FNMI Students conference in Edmonton, many speakers delivered thought provoking strategies and challenging questions like the one above. While ensuring students meet outcomes is of course what teachers do, the question is how are the outcomes being met.
Using digital story telling, or narrative media in the classroom, students are able to have another door opened that will assist in meeting outcomes. Think also to our Aboriginal students that come from a culture that educates by oral stories, using digital stories aligns with their cultural pedagogy. Transforming narrative pedagogy into a digital format creates magic.
Literacy is shifting from being text based to arts based and many of the 21st Century competencies support the arts way of thought. Art is the next ‘r’ and is a new language. Now in this context digital story telling can be used by following the DAOW method created by Dr Jason Ohler.
Stories are information containers. Many students (and adults) struggle with remembering lists of items or chapters of information but put that information in a story and retention becomes strengthened. Ask the question: are students really cognitively not able to connect to the material, or is it just because they are not engaged?
Literacy and numeracy are ways of connecting to the world, ways of being. Stories help open those doors.
Stories connect people to their community and lay the foundation for literacy and numeracy. They also create a sense of identity and provide an opportunity for students to have a voice, to nurture the spirit. Active listening, patience, creativity are all fostered when story telling is used.
Land also has literacy. For Aboriginal people, the land is not described as an object, but a place that gives life. The land also has stories to tell and when striving to engage Aboriginal students, using land literacy fosters belonging and creates authentic learning opportunities. Narcisse Blood shared that this is not about accommodating FNMI students, but Indigenizing our institutions of learning.
Being raised in a culture built on an oral pedagogy, Aboriginal students are very attuned to non-verbal language. It is not only the what of teaching, but also the how: the number of doorways offered to students. What is not being said to students is just as important what is being said. How is the classroom a comfortable environment?
Now what about numeracy? Can digital story telling be used in Math? In Science? Absolutely! Aaron Paquette shared that numeracy is a part of everyday language; it helps people survive in the world. When outcomes, grade level equivalencies, and benchmarks of achievement are imposed on numeracy, the beauty of math is lost. Using digital story telling can help bring the magic back.
The how of teaching math and science needs to be expanded to capture the beauty they naturally contain. The last thing numeracy should be is confusing and stressful. The best way to encourage learning is by surprise and discovery. Direct instruction of material does not guarantee what students will take away from the lesson. Let creative chaos occur and knowledge will be fostered. Students know more numeracy often than given credit for.
Give students a voice and be prepared for passion!
For future links to resources and insights into what Rocky View teachers are doing to use digital story telling to enhance literacy and numeracy skills, check out this blog and if you would like to contribute to this blog, just email me your content at firstname.lastname@example.org.