The power of a good tale…


In class today, students learned about the first triumvirate. While making the lesson, I asked myself, what is the best way to deliver the information? I decided to tell the story of these characters. Fascinating tales, filled with intrigue and pivotal moments, appear throughout history. As teachers, we choose many different methods of delivery, however, storytelling is not often one of them.  Storytelling is not one that comes up all that often in the classroom.  With a star-studded cast made up of: Julius Caesar, Marc Antony, Pompey Magnus, Marcus Crassus ,Octavian (Augustus) and Cleopatra, I decided to give it a whirl.

I began with the conquest of Gaul. Caesar bringing his troops into Italy and across the Rubicon. The lesson, had tense moments and powerful quotes throughout. Students, physically leaning forward, hung on ever word. I witnessed the power of storytelling as these ancient characters came to life in my 45 minute period.

Storytelling, a ancient craft, was one I had to brush up on if I was going to keep students engaged. To learn more about telling a good story I turned to TED videos. I watch many and learned a ton. Below is my favorite one. Take a moment to watch the power of a story.


What I learned:

As educators, we need to embrace the notion that we are storytellers. Educators, trained in so many skills, need to add storytelling to our training. There are definable, learnable, and applicable skills to storytelling. I picked up many techniques while preparing for this lesson. Pacing, order, tone, silence, surprise and humor are just a few techniques I weaved into the story.  As William Archer said “Drama is anticipation mingled with uncertainty”. Having kids filled with both anticipation and uncertainty made their engagement skyrocket. The power a story has to transform a classroom was ever clear to me today.


Today I realized I should add a few more storytelling days in my world history class. While important, this is not earth shattering. A great lesson, I will remember for life, are the skills of a storyteller. These skills, used by the best teachers, keep students interested and motivated. I ask you to set down your backward-design books and standard based grading text for a minute and invest in learning the art of storytelling. It will have a tremendous impact on student engagement and learning in your classroom for years to come. I am asking for a small investment. Those other books and philosophies of education will be there when you’re done. Go head, take a moment and listen to a tale. Feel the power of a good story, and learn the traits to tell your tale soon…

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