What’s Your Story?

Guest blog post by Anne Lowery

As the traditional school year winds down, it is time to bring explorations to an end or at least to a good stopping place. One of the best ways to signal an end or a transition is through science storytelling.

This approach has many of the science and engineering practices embedded into it, including but not limited to:

Analyzing and Interpreting Data

Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

Engaging in Argument from Evidence

Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

Science storytelling is also an opportunity to turn study into action and have your students work to improve their own community as they tell a story.  The possibilities are endless. Your students could write a story from the perspective of the researcher (themselves), or tell the story from the perspective of the subject of the exploration.   They could also use their exploration as a tool to change actions in the community. They can write a song, create a letter campaign, design a video, or talk to community leaders. 

By revisiting their work in a slightly different format, they solidify their own learning and begin to see how different learnings are interconnected.  By writing it in a fictional format, with characters, students can reach people’s emotions– a surefire way to improve the odds of people remembering.

As an example, my students have been studying mountain lions and habitats this year.  They noticed that land pollution is a problem with mountain lions, among other land animals.  My students decided to focus on using their mountain lion knowledge to create a mountain lion out of trash.  Then they wrote a simple chant to go with the mountain lion because, said one of my students, “everyone remembers things better if it’s a song.”

Another student pointed out we needed to write a story to go with our trashy mountain lion.  As that student points out, when people imagine themselves in stories, they remember those stories.

Science storytelling has the potential to make your students’ research available to the public as well as having your students use their work to examine a real-world problem they have identified.  Through such storytelling and action, your students leave your class not only with knowledge gained during the year but also with the mindset that they are scientists too. 

What story are your students going to tell today?

This is a poster created from a 3D art installation created by PreK students.  The shape of the mountain lion emphasizes the pollution threat to land animals.  The plastics inserted through and covering the cardboard not only represent specific body parts of the animal but also are created from plastics commonly found on land.

Anne Lowry is a preK teacher at a Reggio inspired school in Reno, NV.  Her students love to tell stories while discovering and enacting the science and engineering principles!

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2 Responses to What’s Your Story?

  1. Emma Hanson says:

    My name is Emma Hanson and I am a third year Elementary Education major at Wartburg College. The concept of telling a story to share research or scientific learning is such a great way to get your students connected with their community and to express their creative sides. The aspect I find most interesting about this activity is that it can truly be student-centered. I think students learn so much more when they are able to explore things that interest them, and allowing them to choose how they express their findings- songs, video, poster, model- gives the opportunity for students to show their individuality.
    Another awesome component of this activity is the cross-curricular connection. This would be a great opportunity for the students to apply writing skills they may be currently learning with possible science vocabulary terms. This lesson would also be a great way for the students to design and implement some kind of community service project to connect to what is going on around them. The opportunities and connections for this lesson are endless!
    Thank you for sharing your ideas, I loved the “Trash Mountain Lion” activity!

    Emma Hanson
    Wartburg College ’21
    Elementary Education
    Reading Endorsement
    Science Methods 385

  2. Victoria Miceli says:

    Good Evening,
    My name is Victoria Miceli and I am a third year Elementary Education and Relion double major at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa. I love sharing stories with my students and vice versa. Incorperating stories through science is a wonderful way to utilize multi-sensory learning opportunities, as well as being aware of Multiple Intelligences within the classroom. I loved seeing the mountain lion out of trash. The students will never forget that lion or the story behind it. I would love to tie storytelling into science more often. How did you begin this within your classroom? Do you use trade books along the way?

    I encountered a class of sixth graders that were learning about bats and diseases that are spreading within certain bat populations. They built a bat house in their classroom. When I met them we were extracting DNA from fruit and discussing what we could do with DNA to solve a problem. All of a subbed they were teaching me about bats and how they wanted to study their DNA to prevent further death. The students were telling me about their prior knowledge, as a narrative. As a future teacher, it was incredible to be part of their story they are forming for the future of at-risk bat populations.

    P.S. Tell your students thank you for sharing your learning! I love the mountain lion and the story. Great work!

    Victoria Miceli
    Wartburg College ’21
    Elementary Education and Religion majors
    National Science Teaching Association- Wartburg Student Chapter
    Vice President
    Wartburg College Student Ambassador

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