The story – the narrative – helps us understand through metaphors and emotions – and helps us remember. Human beings are “storying animals”. It is much easier for us to make sense of the world through stories.

To most people it is incredibly much easier to understand and remember a story than a rational, logical and empirical text.

Storyline is a strategy and method for active learning.
The process usually starts by establishing what the participants already know about the theme in question. A story is then created through several episodes.

The story is structured in “chapters” in the storyline, giving context and progress.
To each chapter there is a “Key question” usually given by the teacher.

The key questions are open questions, which cannot be answered with a simple yes or no.

“What …, how …, how do you think …” etc. There is no “correct” or “facit” answer to a key question.

The participants must be creative and create the answer in their group through research, discussion, dialogue, negotiation of meaning, assessing information, evaluating contributions.

  • The storyline usually starts by physically creating the figures involved in the story using different materials. The figures are placed in a context: a house, a museum, a Tivoli, a lake with surroundings, a village etc.  Things are going to happen in this place. The key questions give direction and indicate mode of activity. The key questions emphasize learning experiences and learning outcomes.  The problems indicated by the key questions should as a rule be based on real problems.  The figures taking part in the story experience the problems and must find solutions to them in a kind of role-play.
  • The story describes the environment and puts the events in a chronological order.
  • The story has a definite plan, with a beginning, some incidents and an end.
  • The story is a vehicle to put the incidents together in a coherent way.
  • Parents have always used story-telling extensively and through the years people have told stories about things that happen. That way we can remember the events.
  • It is learner-centred
  • It is an active methodology
  • It provides a high degree of motivation
  • It provides an extremely powerful structure for both teacher and student
  • It links basic skills with real world
  • It provides a forum for dealing with the more difficult, ‘extra’ aspects of the curriculum
  • It encourages feelings of mutual respect between teachers and students
  • It gives relevance to the use of up-to-date technology
  • It helps teachers to provide the correct level of difficulty for each student in the classroom
  • It provides many relevant opportunities for co-operative learning
  • It provides a pattern which is repeatable but ever-changing
  • It fits easily into language arts/social studies curriculum
  • It emphasises the importance of encouraging the children to develop their conceptual model first
A storyline requires a detailed plan. The storyline must have a name.
Our team operates with 8 points (columns) to be filled in for every chapter in the storyline template:
  1. Progression. Storyline- The first column lists the chapters of the story timeline
  2. Key questions (Usually by the teacher) Bringing the story forward. The key questions are open questions, which cannot be answered with a simple yes or no. “what …, how …, how do you think …”. There is not only one correct answer to a key question.
  3. Teacher Activity. Starting – Supporting -Leading
  4. Student activity. Learning activities – Answer to the key questions
  5. Organisation / framework. Work in small groups, individually or the class may work together.Work in classroom, in the field, in the forest etc
  6. Resources. What is needed? Learning resources. Possible materials (paper, cloth, colours, etc.) or other resources (books, maps, computers, software, cameras etc.)
  7. Product / Intended learning outcome (ILO). Reification of activities. (2- or 3- dimensional carton structures, posters, letters, exhibitions, articles, websites etc). ILO – knowledge and skills at what level? – Use appropriate verbs
  8. Subject base. Related to what subjects in the curriculum?
The storyline approach to learning is engaging and fun. Try it out!

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