We are in week two of the new school year, and I don't feel like I'm hitting my stride yet. Oh, I'm enjoying my classes, and most of the kids are responding positively. They are blogging, and I'm reading. We are sharing ideas, and they are politely taking notes and following my directions.
But I want more.
I haven't been able to step aside yet. I am so used to leading, pointing, asking, questioning…and waiting for a response. In this Introduction to Genres course, we have been reading and
discussing short stories with the goal of each student writing one
himself. Yet, I am eager for them to find a reason this matters beyond the requirements of the syllabus. I want to find a way to make this process more meaningful for them…to help them understand the value in a good story, the value in knowing how to tell a good story.
Tonight, I was having trouble falling asleep, so I decided to catch up on my RSS feeds. With my new teaching position, I just haven't had much time for anything other than my classes lately.
I was zipping through the feeds when suddenly Presentation Zen caught my eye:"Obama delivers a speech like a symphony." Could it be? A Dan Pink reference?
But wait, there's more.
"What makes a good story?" Garr Reynolds asks. Story? As in "how to tell?" I read on.
He references Bruce Block's book, "The Visual Story," writing:
uses these three basics of story — Exposition, Climax, Resolution — to
show the link between visual structure and story structure. To
illustrate this link in terms of intensity he shows a story-structure
graph; the story intensity refers to the amount of conflict that builds
in the middle. Generally, a good story grows in intensity as it
progresses. Block draws a line that is jagged because a story's
intensity will rise and fall even though the overall direction of the
intensity is building up and toward a climax. The resolution, says
Block, "…is a place for the story to finish…the audience needs time
to recover from the intensity of the climax and reflect on the story's
See, that's what we're doing in class right now. Reading short stories and learning about the form and structure because we–that is, the students–will each write their own stories, based on a common theme and characters."
In his post, Reynolds dissects Obama's speech and explains how it much like a good story–of the best kind. Here, he jots down his ideas:
And there they are. The terms we have been using in class.
In real life. Used to talk about a powerful story.
So, I will be sharing this with them, and I'll play some of the acceptance speech in class, too–not for political reasons, but so they know their teacher isn't the ONLY one talking about exposition and conflict these days.
What do you think? Will it matter to them?