Character Development: The Power of Storytelling in Virtual Classrooms

Character Development: The Power of Storytelling in Virtual Classrooms

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-8405-7.ch004
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This chapter reviews essential features of online learning and puts forward some educational propositions that may be of service in early childhood and elementary levels. First, it examined the unique characteristics of a virtual classroom, and the focus is then put on a need for supporting educators in their design of remote classrooms and to promote active learning aimed at early childhood and elementary education. Secondly, the chapter focused on storytelling delivered in various literary styles. The conversations throughout the chapter pertain to virtual storytelling followed by a description of the process of creating characters, their environment, writing a storyline in order to change how learners, think, feel, or act – character development. The intent is to facilitate collaborative knowledge building through the utilization of storytelling as a tool to support students in decision making, abstract thinking, creativity, and discovery.
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We all know someone who is a good storyteller. They can liven up a party or a long car ride, drawing you in with humor or sometimes melancholy, but they always pull you out of your current surroundings and into their world and evoke an emotional response. As scientists, we also write summaries of our research results and identify the bottom line (i.e., the “take-home message”). Can we weave that bottom line into a story, where our listeners are vicariously experiencing what we have done and seen, sharing in our discoveries and the changes we have witnessed? Can we perhaps even change the way our listener or reader sees the world based on our science? (Green, et al., 2018).

Neuroscientist Anthony Damasio said “Storytelling is something brains automatically do, naturally and implicitly. It should be no surprise that stories pervade the entire fabric of human societies and cultures” (as cited in Haven, 2007, p.293). Storytelling can be a powerful tool when it evokes imagery, heightens emotions, challenges perceptions, and inspires folks to act. Lisa Cron (as cited by Haven, 2007) wrote:

“Neuroscientists believe the reason our brain devotes so much precious time, energy and space to allowing us to get lost in a story is that without stories, there is no stickiness to what we are learning. Stories allow everyone to simulate learning and to experience the world before we have to actually experience it.” (p.9)

So, what makes a good story? It is not entirely the information that is the center of the story, it is the characters who make the story relevant and memorable to young learners. This provides them with the hook to grab their attention and for them to make sense of the story. We as educators should frame stories so that the students can visualize themselves as the central characters in the story (Ready, 2002). The story should stimulate a result or learning outcome to produce a change. Then the story should end with a link back to the purpose of the story in a way to define the learning without directly spelling it out (Dolan & Naidu, 2013).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Remote Learning: A classroom where the storyteller, or information source, are not physically present in a traditional classroom environment. Information is relayed through technology and can occur synchronously with real-time peer-to-peer interaction and collaboration, or asynchronously, with self-paced learning activities that take place independently of the instructor.

Character Development: Based on six pillars – trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.

Storyteller Craft: Engages the reader with the content of the story. It brings them into the world of the story and creates empathy through a unique voice and tells an impactful story.

Story and Storytelling: “Story” can be defined as, a series of events. “Storytelling” can be defined as, relating a series of events.

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