Playing inside Epic Stories

A problem:

When stories are told well, they’re often told from only a single viewpoint, and told only once. Even when they’re beautifully performed, they’re mostly forgotten not long after.

Each story is a micro-world that students can play in.

Our basic plan:

During students’ independent work time each day, they’ll be invited to come to the epic story station. There, younger students will have all the props, visuals, quotes, and basic storylines. They’ll be able to choose between multiple mini-projects: re-telling the story straightforwardly, or tweaking it — telling it from a first-person perspective, turning the heroes into villains, and any number of other games.

Older students will have access to all of that, and also to everything in the curriculum kits which their teacher prepared their original lessons from: they’ll have quotes, primary sources, visuals, and contradictory scholarly interpretations. They’ll be able to choose between all the above projects, but also some more advanced ones: dissecting the story to identify the characters’ goals, conflicts, and resolutions; imagining another resolution than could have been better than the one that historically took place; and many more besides.

Our goals:

Students will develop expertise at story-telling. They’ll hone their ability to empathetically take on others’ points of views. They’ll also accumulate a library of stories challenges — and a critical reflection on how those challenges were overcome.

If you walk into our classrooms, you might see:

Small groups of students acting out the battle between Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla, or considering alternate explanations of what the Gautama Buddha figured out when he was sitting under the bodhi tree.

Some specific questions:

I’m collecting clever peoples’ ideas for how kids can play with stories (the above is only a partial list). Any ideas?