How to use Storytelling as a Teaching Tool

How to use Storytelling as a Teaching Tool

Who wouldn’t love to hear stories about Shakespeare while studying ‘Macbeth’ or ‘Julius Caesar’ in the classroom? I’m sure most of you would appreciate it, and it would certainly make an English class much more interesting!This reminds me of my class-teacher at school who used to narrate stories to us whenever she started to explain a new History textbook chapter. And let me tell you, we literally used to wait for our History lessons just to be entertained by those amazing accounts. The reason we are attracted to narratives is that man is a social creature. In fact, human beings have harbored a love for sharing stories for generations and this is a trend that has continued even till the present day.Think about it. As a child, you were head over heels in love with fairytales and Aesop’s fables and while growing up you were glued to romantic novels. And today, you may be addicted to news websites or newspapers just for the purpose of reading good and informative stories. Stories about life, sports, entertainment, communities and culture, traditions and politicians have become an indispensable part of our daily lives. In short, you are always exposed to stories in some way or the other – and you love the idea of listening to or reading any story. Therefore, if the concept of storytelling is introduced in classrooms, it can benefit students in more ways than one.Now let us try and understand how teachers can use storytelling as a teaching tool to motivate students to study smarter:

  • Emphasize on every point: First of all, you must narrate a story in a way which ensures that each and every part of it sounds important. A smart way to do this is: eliminate any detail that is not directly associated with the main idea of the story. This would also ensure that your students listen to you with greater attention.
  • Present a problem: Remember the fairytales you heard in your childhood, where the knight in shining armor rescued the damsel in distress? The protagonist of your favorite story was always confronted with problems that were gradually solved as the story neared its end. You must use this ‘problem-solving strategy’ every time you discuss a story with your students. It makes your story more concrete and captivates the interests of your listeners as well.
  • Highlight the theme: Next, all your stories must have a strong moral significance. Having said that, I agree that narrating a story with a theme is challenging at times. So before you share your story with your students, spend a few minutes contemplating why it would be a value addition to your classroom lectures. As you conclude your story, your students must be able to understand its theme.
  • Keep it simple: A simple story with a great theme works the best for all kinds of learners, particularly if your students are young. I would suggest you try using different types of analogies to explain a story and also to make it more meaningful. Avoid using scientific terms that might sound too complicated for young minds. Use your creativity to make up a story that is short and simple and related to the academic topic you are trying to teach.
  • Establish eye contact: While describing the plot of your story, don’t forget to look at every student at least once. Maintaining eye contact establishes an instant connection with your students who become more interested to know what happens next in the story. Another reason why you must look into the eyes of your students while narrating an account is that it imparts credibility to your tale.

Two other interesting techniques of storytelling that are sure to work wonders for students include:

  • Modulate your voice: Most people love believing in stories as they can relate to the characters and their circumstances. Therefore, as a teacher, you must try your best to make your story a memorable one with unique characters. Want to know how you can do it? Simply modulate your voice, changing it with each character. It adds a theatrical element to the entire story which as a result becomes more engaging.
  • Encourage students to ask questions: Last but certainly not the least, make your narration interactive by encouraging students to ask questions. Another great way to attract the attention of your students is to ask them to end the story in their own way. Just before you reach the climax, choose any student on a random basis and ask him to predict the fate of the protagonists.

Storytelling can double up as an effective teaching tool in the twenty-first century when youngsters hardly read any story-books! It makes lessons easier for students by helping to memorize them more swiftly and also retain the concept long after they have learnt it.


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