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Stories for learning in European schools

Coordinators: Guy Tilkin and Michèle Paulus Authors: Christa Bauer, Luis Correia Carmelo, Heidi Dahlsveen, Nicoletta di Blas, Patricia Huion, Anneli Kasesalu, Lid King, Marleen Mesotten, Guy Tilkin



Stories for learning in European schools

ISBN 9789081794138 Legal deposit: D/2015/8926/1 Published by: Lies Kerkhofs, Landcommanderij Alden Biesen, Kasteelstraat 6, B-3740 Bilzen Project Number: 539033-LLP-1-2013-1-BE-COMENIUS-CMP Design & production: COMMIX Graphic Solutions – Translations of this manual in Dutch, Estonian, French, German, Italian, Norwegian and Portuguese are available on the TALES website: Disclaimer: This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the TALES consortium, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information therein.

Stories for learning in European schools Coordinators: Guy Tilkin and Michèle Paulus Landcommanderij Alden Biesen, Bilzen, Belgium


Christa Bauer, Pädagogische Hochschule Steiermark, Graz, Austria Luis Correia Carmelo, Ouvir e Contar, Mafra, Portugal Heidi Dahlsveen, Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences - HiOA, Oslo, Norway Nicoletta di Blas, Politecnico di Milano - POLIMI, Milano, Italy Patricia Huion & Marleen Mesotten, University Colleges Leuven Limburg - UCLL, Diepenbeek, Belgium Anneli Kasesalu, Tallinn University Haapsalu College, Haapsalu, Estonia Lid King, The Languages Company, London, United Kingdom Guy Tilkin, Landcommanderij Alden Biesen, Bilzen, Belgium

Project co-ordinator

Table of Contents

References 21

Preface 8 Because stories can make a difference ...

Because thinking too much about theory is sometimes dangerous ...




Tot tell or not to tell?


Why storytelling in the classroom?


Narrative thinking Storytelling as a meaning making tool Storytelling as a memory tool Storytelling as identity: we are our stories

11 11 12 12

What do we mean by introducing stories and storytelling in the classroom?


Competences 14 Gaining verbal and communication skills in the mother tongue 14 Developing skills in a second or foreign language and intercultural understanding 14 Digital competences 14 Imagination, creativity and learning to learn 15 Social and civic competence: values & knowledge 15 Cultural awareness and expression: exploring cultural roots 15


Storytelling - definitions, position, approach and methodology What is Storytelling?


What about the curriculum? School curriculum Initial teacher training curriculum In-service teacher training

18 18 19 20


Oral Storytelling A Little Course Example of a Story: a Traditional Folktale from Norway “The Monkey who Settled in” Basic Principles for Working with a Folktale The Storytelling Situation Practical Work with Storytelling in the Classroom

26 28

Digital Storytelling What is Digital Storytelling? Digital Storytelling as an Educational Tool How to Create a Digital Story? How to Create a Digital Story? Policultura Approach Benefits of DST - Policultura Approach Conclusions: DST and Key Competence Acquisition

31 31 32 34 37 40 42

28 28 29 29

References 43

Because it’s the journey that matters ...

State of the Art of storytelling in educational practice




110 110


Oral Storytelling in the Secondary School Austria – Fairy Tales for Teenagers? Norway – The Story Circle – An Exercise in Democracy

Reflections - Twenty-Two Good Practices of Storytelling in the Classroom Index of the Good Practices Description of the Good Practices

49 49 50

Digital Storytelling Italy – Collaborative Creation across Borders Belgium – Digital Storytelling for European New Teachers

118 118

Emerging Patterns Target Audiences Oral or Digital Storytelling Four Phases in Digital Storytelling

81 81 82 83

Storytelling Beyond School Portugal – Listening and Telling Stories: Community to School and Back Again


Outcomes of Storytelling as a Didactic Tool


The good practices


Analysis of the Good Practices

Questions 87 References 88

Because teaching is being available ...


Reflections on the Pilot Projects – Taking Things Further





References 132

Because finding the meaning of the stories is a personal path ...




Guidelines 134

The tales pilots


What we Hoped to Learn


Training on TALES Approach to Storytelling: Module for Teachers


Overview of the Pilots


Storytelling Training Module for Trainees


The Pilots in Detail Oral Storytelling in the Primary School Belgium – Stories as a Source of Discussion, Creation and Self-awareness Estonia – A Traditional Story as a Basis for Discussion and Sharing Ideas UK – Foreign Language Stories Stimulating Learning and Performance

96 96



Schools involved



Storytellers involved



References recommended by storytellers



Preface This manual is one of the products of TALES, a Comenius Multilateral Project (European Lifelong Learning Programme) that raises awareness and creates support material for introducing storytelling as an educational tool in school education. TALES deals with oral storytelling and digital storytelling. By using stories and storytelling techniques, the teacher can introduce a great tool in the classroom. By offering subject content as a narrative, transformed into images, one improves the quality of the transfer of this content. Introducing stories and storytelling as a tool “performed” by pupils or students is a great way to improve creativity, linguistic, digital, social, emotional and artistic skills. The end-target groups for the TALES approach are 6 – 18 year old pupils and students. In order to reach these groups, the TALES material and methodologies target teacher trainers, initial teacher training students and in-service teachers. We also target storytellers, to make them aware of the educational value and potential of their art and to help them find their way to schools and teacher training organisations. In chapter 1 we offer a general introduction to storytelling in the classroom and an overview of the actual situation concerning its use in education in the partner countries. The next chapter focuses on methodology: how can we best use oral and/or digital storytelling techniques in classroom practice. Chapter 3 reports on a large number of good practice examples, collected from all over Europe, revealing the great value of stories and storytelling in a variety of school settings. The TALES partners each piloted a small storytelling project in their respective countries. Reports on these pilots in chapter 4 offer extra ideas, motives, settings and approaches. The last chapter offers guidelines for teacher training. This manual does not read like a novel from page 1 to the end but is more a reference that can be consulted according to the needs of the reader. The project website also offers extra material including training modules for training the trainer and material on how to integrate TALES into international school projects (Erasmus+). Via the website you can also access the digital platform 1001 voices where students and pupils can cooperate with friends from other countries and exchange their digital stories. The chapters in this manual are the result of the work of the partnership. Many partners contributed through research, collecting good practices, running pilots, reports … but for each chapter we mention the authors and/or editors. We hope that you will enjoy reading and consulting this book and that TALES will contribute to the introduction of storytelling in the classroom.

The TALES partnership


Because stories can make a difference ... Once the dark clouds came and the thunders sang the end of the World. So the elders gathered and went to the secret place in the woods, they lit the sacred fire and sang the magic words. The clouds left and the sun shone again. Once again the clouds came foretelling the end of the World. So the elders gathered and went to the secret place in the woods, they lit the sacred fire and said: - Here we are in the secret place. We lit the sacred fire but we forgot the magic words. We hope this will do‌ And it did because the clouds left and life continued. Again the clouds came and the elders gathered and went to the secret place in the woods. Once there they said in doubt: - Here we are in the secret place. But we forgot how to light the sacred fire and what words to sing. We hope this will do‌ And it did again. Once more the clouds came and people said: - We forgot the way to the secret place in the woods. We don’t know how to light the sacred fire anymore and we forgot the magic words. But we know the Story. Is this enough? And it was.




TO TELL OR NOT TO TELL? Guy Tilkin (Alden Biesen, Belgium); Katrijn Beelen (Alden Biesen, Belgium) & Anneli Kasesalu (Tallinn University Haapsalu College, Estonia)


Why storytelling in the classroom? The power of storytelling as an educational tool is widely recognised. Many aspects of storytelling are close to our daily life, to the way we think and (try to) understand the world. Teachers and trainers often see the benefits of the ‘technical competences’ tackled through storytelling but sometimes underestimate the social effects and the effect of the alternative thinking styles offered by storying content. It is very important to bring this into focus as well. In this chapter we try to present the benefits of introducing storytelling in the classroom, we will also deal with the competences envisaged and we will briefly look at the state of the art: is storytelling present in teacher training and/or school practice or not?

Narrative thinking A major argument for introducing storytelling in the classroom is the fact that stories and storytelling are offered through a ‘narrative pattern’. Any story is a narrative and its structure reflects the way we, as a learning individual, give meaning to (or make sense out of) personal experiences. Story-shaped information is more easily absorbed by our brains, so to speak. Offering content through narratives is considered to be beneficial to the learning process in many ways. It acts as a ‘sense making tool’, supports our imagination and capacity to memorise and contributes to identity development . A narrative or story is any report of connected events, actual or imaginary, presented in a sequence of written or spoken words, or still or moving images.1 J. Bruner argues that we use two ways of thinking: “a paradigmatic and a narrative one”.2 The first one is ‘logic’ and looks for causal relations (deduction, induction, abduction). It deals with 1 2 J. Bruner, 1986

facts and objective truth. The narrative way of thinking deals with human intentions, feelings and personal experiences. Polkinghorne puts it this way: “The paradigmatic mode searches for universal truth conditions whereas the narrative mode looks for particular connections between events.”3 In western society (and education) the paradigmatic mode is much more valued than the narrative one.

Storytelling as a meaning making tool Teaching through narratives contributes to the learning process as the content is offered in a structure that relates to our personal meaning making processes. “Narrative is a fundamental structure of human meaning making.” 4. Also M. Clark and M. Rossiter are convinced that “Meaning making is a narrative process. We make sense of our everyday experiences by storying them, by constructing narratives that make things cohere. It is a matter of locating experiences within a particular narrative or by constructing a new narrative”.5 We try to mentally connect any new piece of information to an existing related thread of thoughts. This relationship can be manifold through concepts, feelings, images, sensations, metaphors… The new elements are ‘wrapped’ as a narrative and connected to existing narratives. The type of relationship between new and old narratives and the place the new narrative gets in the (cultural) clusters of old ones defines its meaning(s). “Therefore, the most effective way to reach learners with educational messages is in and through these narrative constructions. Learners connect new knowledge with lived experience and weave it into existing narratives of meaning.”6 Also M. Hamilton and M. Weiss are convinced: “Storying, the process of constructing stories in the mind, is 3 4 5 6

Polkinghorne, 1988 J. Bruner, 1986 Clark, M. & Rossiter, M., 2008 Rossiter, M., 2002


one of the most fundamental ways of making meaning and thus pervades all aspects of learning, regardless of age.”7 So, stories bring us into contact with narrative structures and as such ease and train the process of meaning making through narrative constructions.

Storytelling as a memory tool It is not only the narrative meaning making process that is enhanced by teaching through stories but also our memory profits from it. Building links with ‘existing narratives’ in our brain is a way to connect new content with what we already know and remember; it is constructing our memory. This process is enhanced by two factors: the imaginative element and the emotional element of storytelling. When listening to a story people create images in their minds. Telling and listening involve creative processes. The teller introduces images and ‘conducts/orchestrates’ the imagination of the people in the audience. “In the oral tradition, storytelling includes the teller and the audience. The storyteller creates the experience, while the audience perceives the message and creates personal mental images from the words heard and the gestures seen. The audience becomes co-creator of the art.”8 The capacity to imagine is an important element in memory building. P. Harris states that: “When adults listen to a narrative they build in their mind’s eye, so to speak, a mental image or a model of the situation that is being described or of the events that unfold. It is that mental model that they retain over a long period of time rather than the particular words.” 9 He argues that these mental models, constructed in imagination, develop out of the early childhood engagement with narrative and pretend play ( paper). Also metaphoric thinking is an aspect of imagination and creativity.


7 8 9

Hamilton, M. & Weiss, M., 2005 Harris, P., 2000

Making comparisons and analogies between elements of different categories is creative thinking. A story in itself can be a metaphor or offer a number of metaphors. But also the emotional aspect is important. Stories appeal to the heart, they engage the listener in an emotional way, raise feelings, urge to act. “Stories are powerful precisely because they engage learners at a deeply human level. Stories draw us into an experience at more than a cognitive level; they engage our spirit, our imagination, our heart, and this engagement is complex and holistic”.10 So, contact with stories can enhance creative thinking skills. Stories help us create images and metaphoric analogies, they have an emotional impact, all elements that stick in our memory much longer than the words building them.

Storytelling as identity: we are our stories « Un homme, c’est toujours un conteur d’histoires, il vit entouré de ses histoires et des histoires d’autrui, il voit tout ce qui lui arrive à travers elles; et il cherche à vivre sa vie comme s’il la racontait ».

J.P. Sartre

We are surrounded by stories. Stories are in our memories, in our family history, our street, city or country. Stories come up when we meet friends, colleagues, neighbours … They deal with daily life, happiness, grief, anger, fear or just fait divers. Stories help us build a community and gain trust. J.P. Sartre in ‘La Nausée’ writes: “ Man is always a teller of stories, he lives surrounded by his own stories and the ones from the others, he sees all that happens to him through these stories and he tries to live his life as if he is telling it.” Making meaning and making sense out of what we experience 10 Clark and Rossiter, 2008

every day is not only an individual learning process but it is also a social constructivist learning process. As such it is also grounded in a cultural and social context. We build our narratives together with our peers, our building blocks are offered by our social environment, we cluster our narratives according to the models offered. Clark and Rossiter support the idea that we can understand identity as a narrative construction. “The construction of an acceptable life narrative is the central process of adult development.”11 So, our identity is the total of our stories. But it is a dynamic concept; we add stories and we drop stories as we go on with our lives. So contact with stories helps us meet and share with other people and build an identity that is socially and culturally based in our community.

What do we mean by introducing stories and storytelling in the classroom? Based on the title of this manual many teachers and teacher trainers will ‘see the image’ of a teacher telling a story at the beginning or at the end of a lesson and, if appropriate, link the theme of the story to the content of the lesson. This is one of the many possibilities and, probably a very positive experience for the pupils. But, much more can be done. In reality we probably should be talking about introducing a narrative approach to teaching and learning. “Given the centrality of narrative in human experience, we can begin to appreciate the power of stories in teaching and learning. We can also see that the application of a narrative perspective to education involves much more 11 Ibid.

than storytelling in the classroom.”12 This narrative approach to teaching and learning can be introduced through oral storytelling or digital storytelling. Oral storytelling is a direct oral, non-mediated communication of a story by a teller to his/her audience. It implies the presence of both parties and is a unique happening: “Storytelling is interactive, immediate and very personal, a negotiation between this teller and this audience at this time and in this place, never to be duplicated.”13 Digital storytelling is the presentation of a short story in digital media using images, sound, video, voice recordings etc. It implies the creation of a story or storyline, digitising its elements and presenting or publishing the result. “Digital storytelling is a short form of digital media production that allows everyday people to share aspects of their life story. The media used may include the digital equivalent of film techniques, animation, stills, audio, … which individuals can use to tell a story or present an idea.”14 Both oral and digital storytelling can be seen as teacher centred or pupil/student centred. The teacher can start from existing stories. He/she tells a story and works with the content, the theme, the values, the characters … of the story. The pupils/students do activities related to the story and its content. The story and the activities depend on the objectives and theme of the session. Another approach is ‘storying content’: offering content in a ‘story way’. “Educators not only tell stories about the subject, they story the subject knowledge itself.”15 “Stories make information more rememberable because they involve us in the actions and intentions of the characters.”16 The teacher looks at the content and material of the lesson 12 13 14 15 16

M. Rossiter, 2002 R.C. Roney, 1996 Gudmundsdottir, 1995 Bruner, 1986


and tries to find out what parts can be offered as (or in) a small story. This means adding elements like place, time, actions, emotions and intentions of characters, sensory details, plots, metaphors, … in order to create images and atmosphere. One can think of teaching about physics and using stories like Archimedes in his bath crying out “Eureka” or Newton witnessing the apple dropping to the ground in his mother’s garden. All this can be done orally or digitally. (

its importance to culture and to the connection between language and meaning can all be supported through stories and storytelling. This can clearly enhance the learning of the children’s own mother tongue.

Both approaches can also be envisaged from the pupils’/ students’ angle . They can start from existing stories and work with content, values … and practice performing skills. They can also ‘story’ their content e.g. creating an oral or digital story on a theme or piece of knowledge they have chosen.

Much contemporary analysis shows that there are problems with current practices of language teaching and current levels of learner performance. Several surveys show that young learners are not engaged with the content of language learning in its functional approach, which is often their suggested diet in language lessons as they are taught today. But these same surveys indicate that they are much more interested in other cultures and in the world of imagination. Storytelling is a prime example of a context which can inspire and interest young people, both to understand and then to acquire and re-use language creatively. Therefore the use of storytelling as an educational tool would not only enhance the acquisition of the foreign languages but also play an important role on the level of the motivation for doing so.

In this manual you will find a number of good practices and pilot projects illustrating these approaches.

Competences The TALES team also wanted to link the European Lifelong Learning Key Competences to storytelling in the classroom. Which key competences are developed best through storytelling activities in class?

Gaining verbal and communication skills in the mother tongue


Language is our most sophisticated ability. It lies at the root of our culture. It is imperative, then, that we give children and youngsters rich experiences with words and with constructing meaning through use of language. Sharing stories can give youngsters more of a “sense of story”- an awareness that can help them in both reading and writing, it also encourages exploration and experimentation with language. Developing an understanding of characters, a knowledge of sequencing and story structure, a sensitivity to oral language and

Developing skills in a second or foreign language and intercultural understanding

Digital competences

Information nowadays is “whatever, whenever and wherever” available . Teachers are no longer information givers but are bridge builders between this ubiquitous information and the student. In TALES we also built a multimedia platform to allow our narrators to tell and exchange their stories in a media-rich environment. As such both teachers and learners can work within learning communities. It will involve the critical use of Internet and social media to retrieve, assess, store, produce, present and exchange information, and to communicate and participate in collaborative networks via the Internet. This will enhance the digital competences of the pupils and teachers.

Imagination, creativity and learning to learn

Storytelling involves imagination and the use of language and gestures to create scenes in the mind of the listener. Both telling a story and listening to a well-told tale encourage students to use their imaginations. Developing the imagination can empower students to consider new and inventive ideas and can contribute to self-confidence and personal motivation as students envision themselves competent and able to accomplish their hopes and dreams. The processes of creating and telling stories also fits into constructivists and self-oriented learning strategies.

Social and civic competence: values & knowledge

Storytelling is one of the most basic ways of sharing knowledge, of making sense of experiences, and of seeing oneself in relation to others. Storytelling based on traditional folk tales is a gentle way to guide young people toward constructive personal values by presenting imaginative situations in which the outcome of both wise and unwise actions and decisions can be seen.

Cultural awareness and expression: exploring cultural roots Storytelling can be an interesting pathway to discover how we came to be who we are as people, as families, and as sub-cultures within the larger society. Studying tales offers insights into different cultures and cultural perspectives and can foster empathy and cultural understanding as well as offering a mirror of humanity, since universal concerns are reflected in the world tales. Storytelling provides students with a sense of history and a sense of community.

State of the Art of storytelling in educational practice At the start of this project we also conducted an online survey among teachers, teacher trainers and teacher trainees in the project partner countries. A separate survey targeted professional storytellers all over Europe. The aim was to find out the status of oral and digital storytelling in teacher training and classroom practice. The complete results of these surveys including a report from short local research activities on this topic by the partners are available on the project website. Here we only briefly touch some of the outcomes. To the question “Is storytelling (as a didactic tool) part of the teacher training course in your organisation?” 62.50% of the respondents answer that it is presented as a teaching methodology (short theoretical input), 20.83% claimed that it is offered as a practical training module (minimum 10 hours), 19.44% said that it is not used at all. To “Do some of the teacher trainers use stories and/or oral storytelling techniques in their training practise?” 82% said yes, 18% said no. The same was asked about digital storytelling and here the results are: 47.54% yes, and 52.46% no. All 100% of the respondents answered ‘yes’ to “Should teacher training students get some sort of storytelling training?”. This result was accompanied by the following arguments: storytelling contributes … To stimulate creativity • Because stories create great pictures in someone’s mind, especially children. In my opinion it’s a basic method to stimulate the imagination. • It adds a more personalised dimension to the lesson and encourages creativity. 15

To connect to cultural heritage • Excellent context for language learning including cultural contextualisation. To develop listening, reading, writing and speaking skills • It is good for imagination, vocabulary of students and teachers. • It is a fundamental art of speaking. • To develop language skills, to develop pupils’ vocabulary, increase their confidence (voice, intonation, mimes, pace, look, body language etc.). To raise pupils’ motivation for learning • Being able to tell stories in a lively way grasps pupils’ attention. When pupils are interested they are all ears and they learn. • Stories engage us, whatever age we are. They are even more engaging when told in an entertaining and captivating way through the use of voice, facial expression and body language. Activities and schemes of work become more meaningful when they are rooted in a story. The context gives a more purposeful reason for learning. To link with other disciplines and general competences • It is a technique which is engaging for a wide variety of learners and which can be applied across the curriculum. • Makes learning memorable, reinforces the idea of a learning ‘journey’. When in-service teachers were asked: “Would you like to introduce storytelling as a didactic tool in your classroom practice?” 88.54% said yes and 11.46% said no. But, in order to accomplish this a whole series of needs and expectations were expressed:


Theoretical • small history; • theoretical input, hands-on practice at uni, practice in school;


• a thorough understanding of how it helps children to progress with history; • a thorough understanding of the risks/benefits of storytelling in the classroom; • a good range of resources to use when teaching. Methodological material • a couple of references would be useful; some ideas about the range of ways in which it can be taught and used; • practical and easy ways of implementing it and embedding it within a unit of work or a scheme of work; • a framework and training for effective storytelling in the early years of learning; • ideas, structured step-by-step phases, practice; • basic training, particularly related to making it accessible to pupils in the target language; • workshop-style teaching, using an approach one uses for teaching drama; • materials to introduce the stories and to involve different types of learners (multiple intelligences and learning styles); • digital material to support storytelling. Good examples, training • examples of good stories to use across a range of age and ability groups; • good practical guidance and examples of how to introduce storytelling and teach languages through the use of storytelling to pupils in secondary school. I feel that it is easier to introduce storytelling to teach languages in primary school, but may be a little harder with the elder students in secondary school due to the fact that they are much older and more ‘mature’. The storytelling has to be relevant to each age group; • real examples, ideas for resources, links to progress and literacy that can be sold to the rest of the department; • meeting other colleagues interested in storytelling; • exchanging good practises. Stories • familiar books or simple books with a lot of repetitions, pictures, flashcards with pictures and words;

• books with relevant topics and level of language / different levels for different abilities. At the moment they do not exist. Money and resources, technology • puppets; • an open space instead of a classroom full of desks, chairs, whiteboards; • camera, microphone, laptops; • the license for some software; • iPads, iPhone; • story boarding; • to be updated and interest students, computer labs and in general extra information; technologies such as a wide screen can be useful. Time • We already do some work on storytelling. To do more I would need more time, better resources and I would want to be more confident myself in using digital storytelling; • More time with the students!! The literacy aspects of the course are already really hard and it is hard to do all of the areas full justice; • time to plan and prepare; • plenty of time to plan for storytelling, and creative colleagues to discuss ideas and activities with.

nuances, the voices of the characters, the pace, the speed; • imagination: images and ideas to express in words, how to build a story, invention and creativity exercises; • the confidence and dramatic gesture that oral story tellers bring with them; • working on voice techniques (especially needed when using different voices for different personalities of the story). Some respondents are extremely enthusiastic about storytelling, while others are more cautious but express an interest and a desire to explore it further and are aware of the potential benefits. Our respondents show that there is a widespread interest in storytelling from trainee teachers, their trainers, and practicing teachers, but they also need more guidance about issues like appropriate material, appropriate techniques and justifying the inclusion of storytelling in a full and assessment oriented curriculum.

Own willingness, readiness • you need an enthusiastic teacher who believes in the freedom of the use of the language, ready to leave the traditional way of teaching and break the ice of the comfort zone; • if you are a good storyteller, you actually do not need attributes or anything (it can be helpful, but is not a necessary thing). You need a positive self-esteem, a positive attitude towards your audience. Personal qualities • body: relaxation, warming up, physical gesture; • voice: warming up and exploration of the voice, the rudiments of articulation and intonation, volume, the


What about the curriculum? The TALES team also scanned the school curricula and teacher training curricula in their respective countries in order to find out whether stories and storytelling are part of it. You can find the full reports for Flanders (FL/BE), Norway (NO), Portugal (PT), England (EN/GB), Italy (IT), Austria (AT) and Estonia (EE) on the project website. Here we will highlight some trends.

School curriculum Regarding the curricula in primary and secondary education the situation is quite deploring. In spite of the fact that mother tongue, reading, writing, listening are considered most important in all the partner countries there is no mentioning of storytelling as such in the curricula of BE, EE, PT and AT. Only in Norway and England there are direct reference to storytelling. In Norway one can find the use of storytelling or work on folktales at different levels in the subject Norwegian and foreign language from 6 years to 15 years. Also in the National Curriculum for State Schools in England there are a number of direct references to stories and storytelling, especially in Key Stage 1 and 2 (5-11 y.). Most countries though have ‘indirect references’, meaning references to elements of storytelling but sometimes linked to drama or social sciences, intercultural development etc. For instance in the Flemish curriculum of primary education there are references to:


• pleasure in listening, speaking, reading and writing as an attitude that has to be developed. • in the final attainment levels of Drama and Physical Expression pupils have to “understand that a balance between word and movement can intensify the expression” or “listen concentrated to a spoken text (told or read) and reproduce it orally, written, dramatically or plastic“ or “develop an appropriate and pleasant speaking technique (articulation, breathing technique, tempo, pitch).”

• In the final attainment levels of ICT “the pupils can use ICT to express their ideas creatively and to present information to others.” It is interesting to note that if there are references to storytelling they usually are linked to mother tongue and language learning as in the case of Norway and England. For instance in England the English language curriculum is the main subject to refer to stories, poems, narrative, or creativity (approximately 23 mentions); followed by Languages (3 mentions); and History (2 mentions). There also seem to be different approaches to stories, storytelling and narrative between English and Languages. The Languages approach is less prescriptive and technical, and more open to ideas of exploration, discovery, imagination and enjoyment: “appreciate stories, songs, poems and rhymes in the language” and “read literary texts in the language [such as stories, songs, poems and letters], to stimulate ideas, develop creative expression and expand understanding of the language and culture”. The use of stories and narrative in the teaching of English though is expected to develop pupil’s enjoyment and discovery, but also to ensure they learn their literacy skills, sometimes in quite technical ways: “becoming very familiar with key stories, fairy stories and traditional tales, retelling them and considering their particular characteristics” or (in the KS1 English notes & guidance): “By listening frequently to stories, poems and non-fiction that they cannot yet read for themselves, pupils begin to understand how written language can be structured in order, for example, to build surprise in narratives or to present facts in non-fiction”. In Estonia there is a reference to ‘communicative competences’ – the ability, via language, to understand, preserve, communicate, exchange, interpret and create texts. In language lessons (mother tongue and foreign language) the students; • can understand a story that was told to them and that is appropriate for their age group. (listening) • can formulate the content of a story in such a way that the content is recognizable. (speaking)

• with a creative use of voice and language children can react expressively and enact experiences. (drama) • develop creativity and creative thinking.

Initial teacher training curriculum When it comes to teacher training (TT) curricula there are a bit more countries with explicit references to storytelling as a competence for teachers, with a focus on primary education teachers. Still in the TALES sample PT, AT and EE have no official mention of storytelling at all in their TT curriculum. In the curriculum for primary school teachers in the Pädagogische Hochschule Steiermark, one of the largest teacher training colleges in Austria, there is no explicit mentioning of storytelling. Only the curriculum for didactics for teaching English in primary schools mentions “work with texts adequate for children, stories and children’s books…”. Storytelling is not explicitly mentioned, though drama techniques are. Also for secondary teachers there is no mentioning of either “stories” or “storytelling” in neither the basic common studies nor the subject-oriented curricula, nor the subject didactics of German language or English. However, in an optional course which is drama pedagogy it is mentioned that “students find creative solutions for stories and fairy tales”. But in Flanders for instance in the publication ‘Basic competences for Nursery-, Primary- and Secondary school teachers’, there is a direct reference to storytelling. For primary school teachers, job component 1 ‘The teacher as guide in learning and development processes’ it says: “The teacher can tell and read stories in an expressive manner and adjust this flexibly.” For secondary school teachers, job component 1 ‘The teacher as guide in learning and development processes’ it says: “The teacher can tell and read stories, and in doing so is aware of his or her own abilities to make optimal use of these skills and to compensate any potential limitations.”

In Italy the TALES partner conducted an analysis of the courses in all 23 universities (public and private) that offer a degree in Sciences of Primary Education:. Words like “storytelling”, “fairy tale”, “myth”, “legend” and similar are never explicitly mentioned in the programs’ descriptions of objectives, contents and methods. However, all programs include among the mandatory ‘characterizing activities’: • a course in Italian literature • a course in childhood literature: • 10 of the 23 courses detail the goals of literature studies as follows: Literature education for future teachers in primary schools and preschools aims at: • creating a reading habit, as a means of continuous development of the person;  • providing skills to interpret the literary message, identifying also thoughts and emotions; • understanding the narrative thought and its structures; No course description explicitly mentions digital storytelling. However, all except two universities also list among the objectives the ability to “select and use in each occasion the tools that are most suitable to the planned teaching path: frontal lesson, discussion, simulation, cooperation, mutual aid, group work, new technologies”. The University of the Aosta Valley states that students must “acquire digital skills described in the recommendations of the European Parliament and Council on December 18, 2006 and the ability to apply them in the classroom. Specifically, said skills pertain to the ability of using multimedia languages for the representation and communication of knowledge, for the use of digital content and, more in general, of simulation environments and virtual laboratories.”


Teaching methods are described as follows: • “Frontal lesson. Brainstorming, discussion and comparison. Analysis of works of literature, narrative, visual, filmed. Analysis of interactions among children, adults and stories.” The following “tools to aid teaching” are listed: • “Reading aloud, oral storytelling; vision of images and illustrations, of visual materials – movies, theatrical pieces…” In Norway some teacher training colleges explicitly include storytelling modules in their training, though sometimes optional. At Rudolf Steiner University College in Oslo orality and storytelling is part of the training aimed at children from 6 to 12 years old. The training includes subjects like: orality, how to use a story in different subjects, symbols in folktales, what stories can be used at what age, understanding of legends, folktales and myths, storytelling exercises and dramatisation and improvisation. At Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, we find a programme called: “Myths and fairy tales”, it is an international study but not mandatory. The goal of the study is: • develop their knowledge about myths, fairy tales and legends; • achieve an understanding of the content of the narratives, “factual” as well as psychological; • learn basic narrative patterns and be able to use these in own productions; • develop consciousness about the own cultural heritage; • work creatively with music, art, drama etc.; • create different story based performances; • experience and understand stories in a practical didactic context. Some initial teacher training institutions in England report using storytelling techniques in their training and feel it is very successful. 20

Goldsmiths University of London’s primary languages teacher training course has a ‘story box’ project at its heart which is a significant theme throughout the curriculum studies training. It forms the basis of the final assessment of the course. Students are required to carry out extensive theoretical reading and work collaboratively to create an effective story box project, alongside an essay “designed to engage the student in a critical study of a cross curricular area.” The approach shows how storytelling can support, very effectively, all aspects of good primary teaching practice including developing language skills (Session 1), phonics and oracy development (Session 4), literacy development (Session 5), methodology and second language acquisition theories (Session 7), amongst others.

In-service teacher training The absence of storytelling in the official curricula doesn’t mean that there isn’t a general feeling that storytelling as an educational tool is very important. Many teachers feel the need for training in this field and a number of organisations want to promote the use of storytelling in education. Their motives can be promotion of heritage, folk tales or literacy. In Estonia storytelling courses have been regularly organised since 1991 at the Estonian Folk Culture Centre. Also the School of Fairy Tales is most active. The purpose of the storytelling courses and seminars is to entice adults back to storytelling but they also target kindergarten teachers, schoolteachers, librarians, etc. In Portugal the preschool and primary school levels are traditionally the most receptive to storytelling; educators and teachers from those levels have been an active storytelling audience and group of interest, participating in workshops and attending events. The discipline of “children literature and reading promotion” present in some of the curricula of Primary Teacher Training courses would integrate some storytelling techniques. Literacy and storytelling are deeply connected in school and library practices and activities.

Workshops targeting especially teachers are rare. Only few storytellers are officially certified as trainers and thus can provide credited training modules. The majority of the cases, workshops are targeting a broad group of professionals working with children, as librarians, social workers and of course teachers. In Flanders the Dutch Language Union developed a reference frame for the language competences of teachers in Belgium and The Netherlands. One of the thirteen objectives in this document is devoted to storytelling: “ Teachers are storytellers, whether they teach pupils in higher secondary or pre-schoolers who have only just entered the school. Teachers tell about their own experiences, or take children into a fantasy world. Fairy tales, sagas, myths and biblical stories are told. Teachers tell stories in order to present learning content, e.g. history. Teachers also tell without presenting learning content, just for the children’s amusement, or because they are so full of an event that they want to ‘tell their story’. Most pupils enjoy listening when their teacher tells a story. Storytelling contributes to the language development of pupils, to their cognitive development in a broad sense, but also to their social and moral development. By means of stories and by interacting around these stories, values and standards are formed, and pupils develop in many ways. The teacher analyses which situation is suitable for storytelling. While telling, he adapts his story to the language level and fits in with the pupils’ environment. While he’s telling his story, he sees how he gets across and he adjusts his story. Thus he creates a fascinating interaction with his public. The teacher can tell different sorts of texts (stories, experiences …) in different ways (informing, persuading, activating, amusing).”

References Bruner, J. Actual minds, possible worlds. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1986. Clarke, M. C. & Rossiter, M. “Narrative learning in adulthood.” New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 119, 61 – 92, 2008. Gudmundsdottir, S. “The Narrative Nature of Pedagogical Content Knowledge.” In Narrative In Teaching, Learning, And Research, edited by H. McEwan and K. Egan, pp. 24-38. New York: Teachers College Press, 1995. Hamilton, M. & Weiss, M. Children Tell Stories: Teaching and Using Storytelling in the Classroom. Richard C. Owen Publishers, Inc., 2005. Harris, P. The Work of the Imagination. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 2000. Hopkins, R. L. Narrative Schooling. New York: Teachers College Press, 1994. Polkinghorne, D. E. Narrative Knowing and the Human Sciences. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1988. Roney, R.C. “Storytelling in the Classroom: Some Theoretical Thoughts.” CITStorytelling World; V9 p7-9 Win-Spr 1996. Rossiter, M. Narrative and stories in adult teaching and learning. ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult Career and Vocational Education, Columbus, OH, 2002.

This last text seems to us very close to an ideal approach to storytelling in education.


Because thinking too much about theory is sometimes dangerous ... Frog was resting in the lakeshore and he saw Centipede passing by. He was amazed by her elegance and he could not resist expressing his thoughts: - My dear Centipede, how elegant you are! So beautiful, with all those feet! - Thank… thank you, Frog… - Centipede was flattered and she would have blushed if she could – You are most kind for saying that… - How many feet do you have? – Asked Frog. - A hundred and one. – Said Centipede proudly. - That is amazing! How wonderful! – Exclaimed Frog. Centipede was bursting with vanity and amusement… - In which order do you move all those feet? – Asked Frog with some kind of a scientific curiosity. Faced with that question, Centipede was paralysed and she could not walk ever again.




STORYTELLING DEFINITIONS, POSITION, APPROACH AND METHODOLOGY Luis Correia Carmelo (Ouvir e Contar, Portugal), Heidi Dahlsveen (HiOA, Norway), Nicoletta di Blas (POLIMI, Italy), Patricia Huion, Marleen Mesotten (UCLL, Belgium),


The Tales project starts from the assumption that storytelling is something basic to humans and we seek to emphasise the importance of using storytelling in creating and disseminating knowledge in the classroom. In this chapter we will look more closely at what storytelling is, both as an oral and a digital method.

What is Storytelling? Storytelling has been always present in human societies. We find references to it in texts from Ancient Mesopotamia, India, Egypt, Greece, and anthropologists have found evidence for storytelling in all pre-literate cultures.    In the 1930s, Walter Benjamin wrote that the story was doomed; it would be lost in the flow of information:

” Every morning brings us the news of the globe, and yet we are poor in noteworthy stories. This is because no event any longer comes to us without already being shot through with explanation. In other words, by now almost nothing that happens benefits storytelling; almost everything benefits information. Actually, it is half the art of storytelling to keep a story free from explanation as one reproduces it.”17 Information flows have not diminished with time and they are structured so that each piece of information lives only a short time before being replaced with new data. The story, however, is based on experiences that become the experiences of the receiver and it has long life because it is supposed to be told and retold. This touches on something about storytelling which we perceive to be important in our project. According to Jerome Bruner18 there are two ways to acknowledge the world: the narrative and the paradigmatic (logical and scientific). These are two forms of knowledge that exist in all societies, but the western world has prioritised the second – scientific -one. The narrative attitude to the 24

17 Benjamin, W. 1975, p. 184 18 Jamissen & Dahlsveen, 2012, p. 47

world, however, is not so much about explaining, but about understanding and giving space for different interpretations. The philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre says that it is through stories that we learn to understand our societal roles and that these give shape and direction to our actions.19 This means that the story is central to our understanding of how the world operates. According to the American philosopher Mark Johnsen we encounter the story through our parents as young children; these stories make sense of our experiences and we subsequently use the same tool when we attempt to describe what happens to us. Therefore the story is the most widespread rational explanation of reality.20 The story is a support that we use throughout life because we seek answers to big questions such as who, what, when and why. McLean and Pasupathi21 claim that we have a narrative identity and that this identity is based on how we create meaning out of life events. This narrative identity is our life story, or the story of selected events in our lives, and by telling the story we create a connection between these events.22 How we reconstruct the past in interaction with others is an important factor in developing narrative skills. Marianne Horsdal also believes that in our modern society, identity is a narrative construction, a story that is being created through encounters with others. These stories are created in the various domains where we operate such as in families, among colleagues and in our leisure time.23 According to Lundby24 the use of the term narrative implies the existence of a relationship : someone tells something to someone. The anthropologist Myerhoff emphasises the important of this relationship: «the pathos of the absent listener is the deprivation of an individual’s birthright».25 This relationship is important because it creates the narrative. This is an important factor that points to the social aspect of storytelling. All speech implies the existence of a listener even though she or he may not actually be present there and then, 19 20 21 22 23 24 25

Hovland, 2002, p. 67 Ibid. McLean & Pasupathi, 2011 Ibid. Horsdal, M. 2011 Lundby, 2003, s. 27 Myerhoff, 2010, s. 21

so every word expresses a relationship with someone. What are the characteristics that make a story into a story? Looking back to ancient times, we find that Aristotle describes a story as something that has a beginning, a middle and an end. Many people define the story in terms of a plot, which is perhaps the theme of a story, that determines how we put the story together and that gives it a sense of wholeness. The often used example to describe what a plot in a story is, is taken from Chatman26: ”The king died and the queen died” is not a story, although two actions are put together in a sequence. The events lack context. However, if you say: “The king died and the queen died of grief,” you create a plot that gives the events causality or a sense of wholeness. In the European context our first references to stories and storytelling are found in the Gorgias of Plato. The philosopher also speaks about it in the Republic, questioning the content of the stories told to children by their nurses. Already then there was an awareness of the importance and the impact of telling stories in the education of young citizens.    In fact, the Latin tradition created a prejudice against the aniles fabulae told by those nurses, which is reflected in the English expression “old wives’ tales”. Those stories (mostly magic folktales, legends and mythology) were seen as something too fantastic, violent, untrue and unworthy of attention.    On the other hand, folk stories were told and written down by priests as exempla for teaching morality to the faithful. Later, the Italian novellas and the French fabliaux preserved a tradition of realistic and comic stories. In the 17th century the fairy tale become a fashion in aristocratic and bourgeois milieux, not to mention the fables immortalised by Aesop, Phaedrus and La Fontaine, among many others.  In the Modern Era, Europeans became interested in their traditional folktales, and the Romantics saw these as representing the true identity of a people. Many collections of tales were made and one became internationally famous: the Tales of the Brothers Grimm.    But this is only one side of the cultural tradition of living tales. 26 Chatman, 1989

They were also alive in an often-marginalised oral and folk tradition.  Throughout the history of Europe, from the Roman Empire through the Middle Ages, to the Renaissance and modern times, there are references to the practice of telling stories in private and social life. There are also references to professional performers who would sing and recite mythological and heroic narratives, like the Norse Eddas, the medieval ballads and the romances of the knights.    The industrialisation and urbanisation of the modern era meant that these practices became more and more absent from social and cultural life, until the 20th century revivalist folk movements, reacting against a mediatised society and a sense of lack of community, opened the way for the revival of storytelling.    Even before that, however. one of the major fields to embrace the activities of the storyteller was children’s education and entertainment. Educational democratisation and the growth of literacy (including the creation of public libraries), alongside the emergence of a market for children’s entertainment (food, games, literature…), were all factors that first facilitated the professionalisation of storytelling. With the institutionalisation of the kindergarten, the expansion of public or religious schools (Sunday schools) and children´s libraries, numbers of educators created opportunities for the appearance of the first professional storytellers of our time. In the first decade of the 20th century there were already former educators working as storytellers in schools and libraries in the United States and England, for example Sara Cone Bryant, Katherine Dunlop Cather or Marie Shedlock.    This does not mean that education and children’s entertainment were the only contexts where storytelling emerged during the last century. Cultural associations and interest groups saw storytelling as a way to “revive” social engagement. Performing artists found a renewed form of art in telling stories. “Storytelling” and “storyteller” became a respected epithet of valuation in almost any art form: songwriters, filmmakers and novelists were labelled as storytellers. 


But no other context allowed for the rise of a professional class of storytellers as much as the work for children. This is probably due in part to the mistaken idea that storytelling and folktales are childlike things but it is also because of the infinite educational applications and possibilities of storytelling.  Telling a story in one form or the other is about making choices: you choose what story to tell, how to make the story “tellable� and in what way you want to tell the story. It is possible to tell stories through several means: books, comics, audio books, radio, television, cinema, videogames, internet, presenting an infinite universe of alternatives as technology evolves. In the TALES project we consider both the oral and the digital way of telling a story.

Oral Storytelling Luis Correia Carmelo (Ouvir e Contar), Heidi Dahlsveen (HiOA) Oral Storytelling is a non-mediated way to tell a story, which implies the co-presence of teller and listener and determines the ephemeral nature of the narrative event. Oral Storytelling only exists while the story is being told and it is unrepeatable. Therefore oral storytelling is more than the story, the music, the images or the interaction with the medium. Oral Storytelling is about what happens between people while they are sharing the story. Thus Oral Storytelling shares many features with other ways of telling a story or being together with people. As in reading a book, we are engaged in imagining the characters and landscapes in our mind in a different way than in a movie for example. As in a dance hall we are invited to participate, sharing our entertainment with others. The special thing about Oral Storytelling, however, is how these elements go together.


The context is where and how storytelling takes place. It depends on the moment of the day, the nature of the space, who is present, what they were doing before and what they are going to do next, why they are gathered together and what is the nature of their social interaction. In this way, oral

storytelling stresses the experience of the event, where we are and with whom. From the tellers it requires the sensibility to find the opportune moment, to choose the story and how to tell it, or not to do it at all and just engage in dialogue with their interlocutors. From the listener it demands the ability to recognise his/her part in the game, to listen or to participate in the terms the context proposes, to relate to others, tellers and other listeners, in the best interest of the collective event. The narrator is the person who tells the story. It is not necessarily a storyteller as we imagine: anyone able to share an experience can tell a story. Again, all depends on the context. The special thing about the narrator in oral storytelling is that it is a real person that we know and who is immediately present! In this way, Oral Storytelling demands from those who narrate a certain level of exposition, the ability to share his/her own imagery and points of view, experiencing the restraints and the freedom of affirming his/her personal and cultural identity. For those who are listening it implies acceptance of the other, willingness to engage in different ideas and understandings of a shared reality. The fact that the teller and the listener are present and that they acknowledge each other as persons who are sharing experiences is one of the greatest addedvalue oral storytelling can offer in terms of social interaction. The narrative is how the story is delivered through any kind of storytelling. It has to do with how the narrated events are told and organised in sequence, which point of view we are invited to follow, what is described and not, what is told and what is shown. In oral storytelling the narrative is not only delivered verbally: gestures, voice and the use of space also contribute to it. How we tell the story, how we organise the narrative, can be almost entirely decided in the moment of the telling, as in the spontaneous retelling of a life experience, or it can be more based on a pre-set form, as in a story that we have already heard before, or almost completely determined by a fixed script, as in a memorised text. Nevertheless, there will be always a spontaneous element to the narrative that is a consequence of the context and of the relation between teller and listeners: spontaneous gestures, tones of voice, pauses and rhythms, interactions and interruptions... However,

telling stories spontaneously, finding the words and physically performing it as the story goes on will stress the importance of the context and of the social interaction, exercising narrative and oral communication skills in a particular way. Gestures and voice are important non-verbal elements of oral storytelling. They can give rhythm to the speech, add information or imitate characters. They can invite closeness or demand distance. They are a fundamental part of the process of oral storytelling and consequently they involve bodily expression, an essential competence in oral communication and in social performance. The available space is also an important element of oral storytelling, and it too is closely connected to the context. What is the difference between telling a story in the classroom and taking the class to another place? What changes when the group is seated in lines or organised in a circle? The space element determines a great deal of the oral storytelling experience and it cannot be overlooked. Nevertheless, important as are all these (and other) elements, oral storytelling is fundamentally about human relations. The way it creates communication makes it a special way of transmitting knowledge, connecting generations and building communities, a pleasant entertainment at work breaks and in social events and even an intimate performing art to enjoy in pubs, theatres and festivals. No matter where we are and why we are telling stories it always involves a moment shared by people, an opportunity to exchange experiences and ideas, to dream side by side, to imagine possible worlds. This element of oral storytelling is only achievable because of the co-presence of someone telling a story through a narrative voice and of someone who is listening.

“The benefits of oral storytelling are as diverse as the stories we chose to tell”.27

27 Munn, H. D., 1999

A number of sources have described the benefits of oral storytelling28: • Storytelling improves listening skills and increases attention spans.  • It requires active listening and is an activity that brings an immediate reward for the listener and the storyteller. • Storytelling improves the use of oral language and subsequently also written language.   • It improves understanding of plot, sequencing, characterisation, and other literacy competences.  • It develops visualisation and creativity.  • It allows students to strengthen their communication and social skills.  • It enhances children´s self-esteem.  • It establishes a special bond between teller and listener, improving the teacher/student relation, but also the sense of community among students.  • It improves literacy skills;   • It strengthens comprehension;  • It improves vocabulary, imagination, and logical thinking;  • It builds critical thinking skills as listeners compare different versions of tales or the responses of numerous characters to similar situations;  • It improves empathy with others and, with others’ cultures, enabling children to resist peer pressure and make independent decisions;  • It improves group dynamics, social skills and reasoning;  • It is a relaxing activity where the children are not assessed and where the only thing required is a willingness to listen;  • It is a living context for making meaning.    No matter what stories are told, it is possible to recognise pedagogical, personal and social benefits from the storytelling practice in the classroom. On the one hand, it helps to create a motivating learning environment and develops important skills. It also contributes to the students’ personal and cultural self-awareness, being a way for them to express themselves and their ideas. Finally, it helps to create confident individuals who are capable of critical thinking, but who also understand 28 Munn, H. D., 1999, Dunning, 1999, Mundy-Taylor, 2013


and respect the importance of difference, and are willing and able to communicate.. 

Basic Principles for Working with a Folktale

In this manual you will find different ways of using storytelling, but first we will give you a short course:

There are some basic principles when you start working with a folktale:

A Little Course

Example of a Story: a Traditional Folktale from Norway “The Monkey who Settled in” A stranger, a monkey, was travelling and she came across a place which was so beautiful that she decided to build somewhere to live there. She worked hard climbed up the rocks and rolled back stones and in this way built herself a house. Then she went off and bought a goat that she slaughtered. She hung up the meat to dry. A fox was sitting some distance away and had seen it all and now he thought it was time to welcome her. He went to the house, knocked nicely on the door. “Welcome,” said the monkey. He went in and said, “Good day.” He looked around and said, “How pleasant it is here. What beautiful children you have. And how nice you are! This is going to be a good home.” “You think so? My good friend, Mikkel! “, said the monkey. She went out and cut a leg of the meat, which she gave to the fox. The fox went to the forest and sat down to eat the meat. Then a bear came by. “Where did you get that meat?” the bear wanted to know. “I got it from our new neighbour, the monkey.» said the fox. “Then I will set off to get me some meat too”; said the bear. “It is important that you hide the truth and only tell lies, “said the fox. The first thing the bear did when he arrived the house was to smash the door. He went in, growled and said. “Ugh, How horrible it is here. How ugly you are and what nasty children you have. No, this is not a good place to be,” The monkey was so angry that she jumped on him and scratched and beat him. The bear had to run away. 28

1. Choose a story you want to tell. It may be that there are elements in the story you will recognise from your own life or which have some meaning in relation to your own views on topics such as social issues. 2. Use your own dialect when you tell a story. A story is perceived as ”authentic” when the storyteller has a distinct identity in the story; our language is about identity. 3. If you forget something, this is natural. Do not get obsessed with what you have forgotten; it is what you remember that is significant. 4. Practise. Tell the story out loud to yourself so that you get used to hearing your own voice. First, read through the story a few times. Then put the text away and tell the story a few times on the basis of what you remember. Once this is done you can look through the written story one more time in case there are some essential elements you have forgotten. It is important that you do not begin to memorise the story. You can then draw the action, as in a comic strip. The way in which you will remember the story is through the ability to create images. It is also this which makes the story come alive. So now practice seeing the story as a movie in your mind’s eye; it may help you if you imagine one dominant colour controlling the images- a colour that recurs constantly in the various scenes of the story. The last thing to do is to tell the story over and over again, usually while doing something else like housework or while going for a walk. You then need to tell the story to someone else, someone you live with, your children, or a friend. It is important to

remember that the story changes when others listen to it; this is quite natural because the oral story is being shaped in the encounter between people.

Practical Work with Storytelling in the Classroom

These are things that a good teacher would also understand as a good lesson can also be like telling a story. When you are telling a story, be yourself and use your natural body language. Try to avoid private movements, that is to say movements like fiddling with your hands, adjusting your sweater or flicking your hair. This has nothing to do with the story or situation and it takes away focus from the interaction and the story. To avoid this, it helps to practise with someone who will speak up when they see such movements.

In the Tales project , you will find many good examples of how oral narrative can be used in the classroom. In that regard, we would like to mention two long-term projects, which show that oral storytelling has an influence in school. One is the long standing project “Sprachlos” in Berlin where professional storytellers visit a number of schools weekly. Professor Kristin Wardetzky initiated the project and the project shows how students from immigrant families developed from not having a relationship with the German language to being able to express themselves poetically. Another project, “storytelling Schools”, conducted in the United Kingdom shows that long-term use of oral storytelling affects student’s written capabilities.

When you tell a story have eye contact with your listeners, so that they feel involved and you have more control over the situation. Before telling your story you should prepare the room and make sure that you are positioned so that you can see everyone and everyone can see and hear you.

Teacher Erin m. McTigue29 said that the imagination is a good educational support in the transition between oral storytelling and reading. In oral storytelling the students create internal images, but when they want to describe these images they often do not have the language to express themselves , and it is this which provides great potential for learning.

Make sure to control the area behind you; you should for example not stand in front of a window, or the listeners may start to look outside and lose concentration. And finally, remember that although not all the listeners will meet your eyes this does not mean that they are not listening. If they become restless, focus primarily on those who are listening. This creates an atmosphere of concentration that allows everyone to become listeners. Remember that if you are uncertain this influences the listener and if you miss some words or lose the thread, this does not need to be a problem. Should you lose the narrative, use the listeners by asking where you were in the story, and in that way you can confirm that they are with you.

There are a number of ongoing processes that take place when a story is being told like listening, respect for the community, language learning, the ability to create meaning and the like. Several of these processes can be practised and transferred to other types of learning and teaching.

The Storytelling Situation

Here are some practical exercises you can try when working with listening: Ask Questions without Responses Here you train up the ability to listen, so that the silence becomes an important part of what is being communicated. All the participants are sitting in a circle. They ask questions out of thin air. Let each question get some space before the next question is being asked. The questions will not be answered, but listened to. The questions may be everything 29 McTigue, 2010


possible from the trivial to the meaning of existence. Count and Listen The purpose here is also to increase the ability to listen. All the participants sit with closed eyes in a circle. The whole group is going to count aloud to 20. You are NOT planning who counts what. If there are two who count at the same time, they have to start over at the beginning. Who Said Anything? Yet another exercise with a focus on listening. In this exercise, the participants should know each other a little bit. All the participants stand as a tight group. One takes a step out of the group and stands with his back to the rest of the group. The leader points to three in the group who say something in turn. The one who is standing outside listening should now identify who said what. Guess the Song Here in addition to listening training, the participants also get training in telling stories. All the participants write down a known title of a song. These papers are collected together in a pile. Then the participants take a sheet from the pile and create a new story based on this title. They tell the story to a partner. The partner has to guess which song it is. Active and Disinterested Listener This exercise clearly shows what happens when the listener is not active and it might be seen as provocative. The group divides into pairs; they sit on chairs with their faces towards each other. They sit so that it is only the listener who can see the teacher. The other one is a storyteller and tells a story, they will tell no matter what is going on and they cannot touch the listener physically. The teacher moves from one wall to the other. The closer the teacher comes to a wall, the more disinterested the listener is in what is being told and he or she shows this. The teacher turns and goes back, and then the listener will gradually show interest again.


The Sound Backdrop The group is divided into two. Each group should make

a sound backdrop representing a place, such as a train station or a hospital. No verbal language is allowed, but only gobbledygook (made up language). However, they make sounds that they think might illustrate that place. When the groups perform the planned sounds, they sit with their backs towards each other. The other group has to guess which place the sounds comes from. Here the focus is on the combination of listening and association. Two Talks This exercise increases the ability for concentrated listening. The participants get together in groups of three. They sit on chairs, with one person in the middle and the other two with their faces toward the one in the middle. The participants on each side will simultaneously hold a conversation with the one in the middle. The person in the middle will try to keep the conversation going with both of them, as if the other was not present. Riddles When one has told a tale it is normal to have a dialogue with the listener, but dialogues also need to be practised. Therefore, it can be useful to work with riddles. A riddle is like a life in miniature. They fascinate old and young and are undervalued as a narrative, educational and didactic device. You can find the riddle as a driving force in the Greek tragedy of Oedipus and as part of the great Indian epic the Mahabharata. Here you have excitement and catharsis within a short time. The riddle fits well both with an educational program and in a storytelling hour.

What is stronger than God and worse than the devil Death eats it But if you eat it, you will die. (Nothing)

Ola had two brothers. His sister Eva had just as many brothers as sisters. How many children are there in the family? How many boys and how many girls? (3 brothers and 4 sisters).

Minute Mysteries These are a continuation and expansion of riddles, as well as an exercise in logical thinking. Based on some concrete information, abstract thinking is stimulated in an attempt to solve the problem . Here are the rules for participation. To figure out the answer of the riddle, the participants have to ask the storyteller questions. The storyteller can only answer yes, no or “it has no importance”. A woman pushed her car until she came to a hotel. When she got there, she knew that she was bankrupt. What has happened? (She was playing monopoly.) A man was running in to a restaurant and asked for something to drink. The man behind the counter takes a gun and shoots at the ceiling. Why? (The guest had hiccups.) More useful exercises can also be found on the website of the former Grundtvig Multilateral project Sheherazade, 1001 Stories for Adult Learning:

Digital Storytelling Nicoletta Di Blas (POLIMI), Patricia Huion (UCLL)

What is Digital Storytelling? “Digital Storytelling” (DST in short) is a form of technologybased communication that was first meant to allow people to self-express aspects of their life, experience and personal story. In the definition by Wikipedia, DST is “a short form of digital media production that allows everyday people to share aspects of their life story. The media used may include the digital equivalent of film techniques (full-motion video with sound), animation, stills, audio only, or any of the other forms of non-physical media”.

“Digital storytelling is not just about the transfer of knowledge; it is also a movement designed to amplify the voice of a community. Everyone can participate because everyone has a story to tell.”30 Digital storytelling is an online personal narrative in digital format. It can operate outside of institutions or organisations, although many organisations such as museums and libraries are using digital storytelling to help achieve their goals for community engagement. In the field of cultural heritage, DST is being introduced by museums as another means to contextualise objects or to include in exhibitions personal stories related to historical events. The goal is to “de-institutionalise” objects and make them closer and more relevant for visitors. Two very famous examples are “Object stories” by the Portland Museum, a project that invites people to tell stories about things that matter to them - whether a postcard, military medal, childhood toy, or an iPhone. People enter a booth in which they can record their voice commentary and pictures of them with their objects are taken.31 Another example is the Australian Centre for the Moving Image.32 The ACMI runs regular workshops to guide people through the telling of a personal story using multimedia tools. Participants combine the audio visual resources of their personal archives (photographs, video footage, text, music and sound) to produce a 3-4 minute personal story which they then narrate. “Digital storytelling at its most basic core is the practice of using computer-based tools to tell stories. There are a wealth of other terms used to describe this practice, such as digital documentaries, computer-based narratives, digital essays, electronic memoirs, interactive storytelling, etc.; but in general, they all revolve around the idea of combining the art of telling stories with a variety of multimedia, including graphics, audio, video, and Web publishing.”33 30 31 32 33

Burgess, 2006 Digital Storytelling Center – University of Houston


Two famous pioneers are Joe Lambert, one of the co-founders of the Center for Digital Storytelling (CDS) in Berkeley, California, and the British photographer Daniel Meadows. The latter defines DST as “multimedia sonnets from the people” in which “photographs discover the talkies, and the stories told assemble in the ether as pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, a gaggle of invisible histories which, when viewed together, tell the bigger story of our time, the story that defines who we are.”  Today the use of digital storytelling is being practised in neighbourhood community centres, schools, libraries and businesses, by novice technology users as well as by those with advanced skills. In the field of education, teachers and their students, from early childhood classrooms through to graduate school, are using digital storytelling in many different content areas and across a wide range of levels (Digital Storytelling Center – University of Houston).

Digital Storytelling as an Educational Tool More and more teachers in the US, Canada and Australia are using digital storytelling in their classes. We refer to Carole McCulloch who reflects: “Digital storytelling is an embedded innovative practice amongst educationalists in all sectors of Australia. Teachers in primary, secondary, community, and tertiary institutions have embraced this powerful media for a wide range of purposes in teaching and learning.”34 Ohler strongly believes that whichever new technologies emerge, we will always find ways to tell stories with them. Bernajean Porter refers to some oral storytellers’ skepticism about digital storytelling fearing the story will disappear. “Traditional storytellers worry that the novelty and technical fun of multimedia tools will divert and endanger the quality of the story. It is a realistic concern that new storytellers 32

34 Frazel, 2010 p.15

who begin as technology lovers and become interested in digital storytelling may indeed tend to focus on the technical aspects they know and enjoy rather than the rich heritage and art of storytelling. If there is no substantive story to tell, then expensive digital tools will certainly not provide enough decoration to give a strong emotional staying power”.35 Stories, storytellers and new storykeepers telling the stories of our times is what we need. Ohler also refers to this need for stories in digital times with its information overload and conflicting perspectives. Stories become the metaphor of our times of constant conflict resolution, according to him and they will be told in its language which is digital: “…we all get to tell our own story in our own way. Digital cameras, painting programs, music keyboards, word processors, and Internet apps - as well as all those technologies just around the corner that we can’t even imagine right now - give us new ways to personalise the methods of self-expression. And thanks to Web 2.036 - the name often used to describe the Internet as a distributed, collaborative, participatory commons - we have an international stage for the stories we tell.”37 And there is a need for sharing digital stories in educational contexts bridging the outside world to increasingly culturally diverse classrooms, to online learning communities and “in distance learning and blended learning environments that are becoming more and more popular options for continuing professional development courses as well as pre-service programs. Digital storytelling instruction lends itself to the online learning experience where students can take advantage of the digital tools available via their personal computers to complete assignments, to collaborate with the instructor and fellow students, and to present a final product online.”38 35 36 37 38

Porter, 2004, loc.61-74 O’reilly, 2005 Ohler, 2013 p. 4 Frazel, 2010 p. 146

In digital storytelling we rely on “assistive technology” enabling everybody to create and to share. Stories are still the most important aspect in digital stories and the digital age is its strongest ally: “It became clear to me that our dependence on stories was deep and pervasive and that telling stories with technology merely amplified that fact.”39

Main Resources Whereas oral storytelling is linked to powerful grandmothers and their “old wives’ tales”, digital storytelling has a famous grandfather: Dana Atchley. He was the one who initiated the digital storytelling wave and we would like to share this milestone example: Next Exit ( bKuGpBaWqQk). Digital storytelling as a pedagogical approach has been pioneered by Bernajean Porter, Joe Lambert, Gail Mattheus – DeNatale and Carole McCulloch. Books such as Digital Storytelling, Capturing Lives, Creating Communities (Lambert, 2002), DigiTales: The Art of Telling Digital Stories, (Porter, 2004), Digital Storytelling Guide for Educators (Frazel, 2010), Digital Storytelling Cookbook (Lambert, 2010), Digital Storytelling in the Classroom. Second edition. New Media Pathways to Literacy, Learning, and Creativity (Ohler, 2013) share their enthusiasm for story, technology and education. We also found many examples, learning tips and workshops on sites such as,,,,, 39 Ohler, 2013 p.7, Finally we would also like to highly recommend the MOOC created by Iversity on the future of storytelling: com/user/officialStoryMOOC. It allows you to situate digital storytelling from a media perspective and within serial storytelling on TV, Storytelling on the TV web series& beyond, Storytelling in digital games, Entering Reality: the extended screen/location-based storytelling & augmented reality and transmedia storytelling.

Pedagogical Frameworks The UK open university forecasts that narratives will be implemented as an educational innovation by 2018.40 So we have to question what kind of learning is introduced by digital storytelling. Digital storytelling has been linked to reflective learning ( McDrury and Alterio, 2003), deep and portfolio learning (Barrett, 2005), technology-integrating and authentic learning (Sadik, 2008), techno-logical pedagogical content knowledge (TPCK) (Robin, 2008), project-based learning (TechTeacher, 2010) and inquiry-based learning (Ohler, 2013). Sadik (2008) gives a very inspiring historical overview of how ICT and digital storytelling were gradually introduced in educational circles and of the different views which are held about them. Ohler for instance compares the hero’s journey (Campbell, 1949) to a student’s unit of instruction. The hero facing a problem or a challenge resembles the student tackling an assignment or inquiry. 40 Sharples et al., 2014


“The student learning story is one in which a student traverses from inquiry to discovery and achieves closure by applying what he or she has learned. The emergent self is one who pushes back against his or her lack of knowledge or understanding and in the end comes to understand new things about himself or herself and the world. In other words, transformation is learning that enables completion of an assignment (...) stories use rhythm and anticipation to emotionally involve learners in ways that other approaches to learning often do not. Students come to school already understanding the story form and expect to find it in use (Egan, 1989). It makes sense that we would consider it as a methodology”.41 John Seely Brown agrees we should use it as a methodology: “I’m particularly interested in Digital Storytelling, in new ways to use multiple media to tell stories and in the ability of kids, who are now growing up in a digital world, to figure out new ways to tell stories.”42 These new journeys and new stories need, however, further exploring.

How to Create a Digital Story? Inspiration The resources above offer many good examples of digital storytelling. We differentiate between form and content to discuss the variety of possibilities which might inspire your students. Many digital storyteller begins with a digital photo essay: “the sequencing of a series of pictures and then adding appropriate music to visually share an experience”.43 Frazel refers to e-scrapbooks and e-portfolios which add visual and audio material in scrapbooks and portfolios which are digitalized.


41 Ohler, 2013, p.100 42 43 Porter 2004, loc 615

Digital storytelling is often confused with digital films. However there are three major differences between the two: “First, digital stories use a range of multimedia (voice narration, animation, scanned memorabilia, or still images) and may not even include any video clips at all. Second, the personal telling of the story the narrative voice that makes meaning out of the experience or information is essential to all digital stories but may or may not be part of the visual expression of a good film. Third, the expectation for personal narrative makes the construction of a digital story more suited to individual projects than group projects. Each production decision reveals the individual’s intimate connection with their topic. The author is living in the experience rather than ‘telling about’ a topic. A digital story shares knowledge and experience through the heart rather than the mind. This is an option but not a requirement for a good film”.44 Similarly the genre of a YouTube clip differs from digital storytelling. They share recurring characters and themes, jokes, three interdependent foci which are the mechanics of video editing, the techniques of modern storytelling, the integration of content and medium, and the adding of music. The major difference, however, and the most important aspect of digital storytelling namely the voice-over, is not a defining feature of a YouTube Clip: “Telling your story in first person is the hallmark of an exemplar digital story. Regardless of which type of story you decide to conjure up, remember that at the heart of all stories is the importance of expressing your own story. Make sure the story you tell develops your own thinking, spirit and viewpoint regardless of the content. Be very present in all your stories. A story is made especially powerful by “performing” it with your voice in personal mode rather than observer in “reading” mode”.45

44 Ibid., loc 645 45 Porter, 2014, loc 1273

Showing the range of digital storytelling content-wise might also invite your students to start creating their own. Porter discerns the following: • Personal Stories: Creating Living Memories • Kinship Stories: Family Stories of Who We Are • Hyper-Interactive Stories: Group Stories with Diverse Paths and Endings Personal Expression: • Creating Visual Expressions of Thoughts and Feelings • Myths, Legends and Tales: Past, Present and Future • Informative or Expository Stories: Information Beyond Words • Persuasive Stories: Influencing and Impacting Others • Itza Wrap: Stories of Lessons Learned • Future Vision Stories: Imagining the Future NOW 46

Empowerment Digital storytelling is a mediated way of telling stories. So students should know how to create in iMovie or Movie Maker or should visit tutorials on how to use apps. Peer teaching allowing students to show how they use digital tools can be very empowering too. Having increased their digital literacy, we move on to improve their story literacy. True as it may seem that we are surrounded by storytelling all day and use storytelling to express, explain, connect, we may feel daunted when having to create a story from scratch. It is a kind of the story of the centipede: we have been walking all day but one says now you are going to walk this may sound difficult. Perhaps we do not know which of our many actions is called walking. We therefore advise not only to give examples but also to give some clues. It does not tell them how to engage in digital storytelling but it gives them some “pebbles” to find their way.

46 Ibid., loc 1291

Sources which might improve the creation of a story are • • • •

Burke’s dramatic pentad,47 Campbell’s hero journey48 Dillingham’s Visual Portrait of a Story.49 8 Steps To Great Digital Storytelling http://samanthamorra. com/2013/06/05/edudemic-article-on-digital-storytelling/

“In oral storytelling, the meaning of a story is manipulated by voice tone, pacing, gestures, and body language. In digital media, the meaning of the story being narrated can also be manipulated with images, color, text fonts, sound effects, music, transitions, animations, special effects, pacing, and image/video composites.” 50 Ohler offers some sliding scales which help define the digital storytelling. Is your digital story “clear like an essay” or “challenging, like a poem”; a mini-documentary or a form of self-expression; resonant (relating to the audience’s stories) or non-resonant (opening their eyes); story or report; active (e.g. note-taking) or passive viewing; teaching about myself or me teaching about something else. These choices can be linked to the questions in Lambert’s Digital Storytelling Cookbook (2010): own your insight, own your emotions, find the moment, see your story, hear your story, assemble your story, share your story. In answering these choices and questions you have a notion of your outlines of your story.

Learning Digital storytelling has been linked to the national curricula in Australia, Canada and the USA. Ohler summarises it saying digital storytellers improve their competencies in digital technologies, art, orality and writing. They learn how to think 47 48 49 50 Porter 2004, loc 645


“creatically” combining critical thinking and creativity. They embrace divergent thinking embracing mistakes as learning opportunities and they increase their emotional maturity while empathising with their audiences. Porter has discussed the learning possibilities in more detail:


1. Cognitive Apprenticeship — practicing real-world work of digital communication 2. Creativity and Inventive Thinking — creating multisensory experiences for others 3. Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) — going beyond existing information to add personal meaning and understanding 4. Enduring Understanding — by telling the story of what you know and understand for others, authors deepen their own self-meaning of the topic 5. Visual Literacy — using images to show, not tell, the narrative story 6. Technical Literacy — mastering the craftsmanship of applying the technology tools to create powerful communication, not to just use the tools, but to mix and dance the media into illuminated understandings 7. Information (Media) Literacy — thinking, reading, writing, and designing effective media information 8. Effective Communication — reading and writing information beyond words 9. Multiple Intelligences and Learning Styles — addressing not only the opportunity for students to use their preferred mode of learning and thinking, but also enabling them to practice the effective use of all modalities 10. Teaming and Collaboration — growing skills through practiced opportunities to co-produce group projects 11. Project Management Mentality — Melvin Levin’s challenge for students to practice time management of complex, involved tasks to successfully meet deadlines modelling real-world tasks 12. Exploring Affinity — Melvin Levin’s findings that when students create meaningful, engaged work, they discover themselves as successful learners. (summarised in


Publication and Presentation Digital storytellers share their stories in online platforms or show them to a life audience. This immediacy is not always the case. So digital storytellers have to think about how to reach out to their audience while they are not there. They alos have to think about a permanent context whereas oral storytellers are there in the moment and can change the act of storytelling based on the audience’s feedback, digital storytellers cannot do this. It stimulates digital storytellers into thinking about their audience and their interaction with them and it also increases the quality of their output because “ when students know they will be sharing their stories with others, they will be exploring material in more depth, and there is an increased likelihood that they will remember what they learned for a long time”.51

Reflection Finally, we may be born storytellers but most people still experience a kind of stage fright. The idea of publishing online sharing a story which might be watched again and again by people outside the classroom may be discouraging. It may be advisable to connect to this human muteness and discuss Lambert’s explanations to defreeze your students. It might be time-saving to visualise these stumbling blocks so that digital storytellers can recognize them and keep developing their story: • Overloaded memory bank: 21st century citizens are suffering from a story overload and don’t have the epigrammic tales of oral storytellers or filtering, indexing, repackaging skills to create stories anymore; • The editor: a composite voice in our head that tells us we do not have a story to tell or are not creative enough. 51 David D. Thornburg in Ohler 2013, p VII

• The good consumer habit: we prefer to buy consumer goods to create our identity rather than creating a more demanding personal story. Finally we also feel that connecting to a learning community such as Storiesforlearning/ may make it easier to become a digital storyteller.

How to Create a Digital Story? PoliCultura approach As discussed above, DST in education can be interpreted in many ways. In this section, we present a specific approach, called “PoliCultura”, deployed in Italy by HOC-LAB (Politecnico di Milano) since 2006 and then adopted and adapted within the frame of the TALES project.

A Bit of (Hi)Story PoliCultura is an initiative of DST in formal education, for all levels: from pre-school to high-school. It is based on an authoring-generation-delivery tool that when deployed in 2006 was called “1001stories” and has now evolved into 1001stories+ and 1001voices (a multilingual version purposely developed for the TALES project).

multimedia narrative. Remote cooperation among classes is possible though not mandatory. Since school year 2013-14, PoliCultura has become the official school contest of Expo Milano 2015 (the International Exhibition taking place in Milano, Italy, in 2015). In year 2014-15, a special edition for the TALES project took place, focused on key-competences acquisition.

Key features The following are PoliCultura’s key features: • PoliCultura is collaborative: whole classes or groups of students create a story together • In PoliCultura, the teacher(s) play the key role of, so to speak, “music-directors” • The narratives are in some sense or another linked to the curriculum and/or to some school activity • At the end of the experience, a wide spectrum of benefits is acknowledged, not only related to the communication and self-expression sphere

PoliCultura as a competition was first launched in school year 2006-07; it has involved so far more than 30,000 students, mostly from Italy but also form the rest of the world (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Iran, Latvia, Lebanon, Somalia, Spain, Switzerland, USA). More than 1,500 stories have been created so far. PoliCultura is run by HOC-LAB, a laboratory at the department of Electronics, Information and Bioengineering of Politecnico di Milano, one of the largest technical universities in Europe. Within PoliCultura, groups of students/classes collaboratively create, under the guidance of their teachers, an interactive

Figure 1 Screenshot of a narrative by a high-school; on the right, the chapters and sub-chapters can be seen


Let us go through each feature more in detail. Collaboration: the authoring tool compels authors to create an interactive story in the sense that the story itself is divided into elements (chapters and sub-chapters) through which the final user, once the work is done and generated, will be free to browse (figure 1It is thus easy, almost obvious, for teachers to divide the class into groups, each in charge of a specific part of the story. the big decisions are taken together: what topic to deal with, the editorial plan of the story, whether the final result is good or not and how to amend mistakes, but at the same time, each group and within each group each student is given a specific role to play. The final result is thus a “group accomplishment”. Teachers’ role: in the above-described scenario of groups working in parallel towards a common end, the teacher plays the fundamental role of music-director, with some variations according to the students’ age. The teacher turns from instructor to facilitator, discussing with the students the crucial turn-takings of the work (the overall topic, the story structure…) and then monitoring the activities (e.g. deciding the groups’ composition or changing group members if needed), making sure that everything is done in due time and with due accuracy. The instructions on how to take part in PoliCultura are purposely only half-sketched in order to leave room for the teacher(s) to co-design the experience according to the specific context in which it takes place. Example 1: in some cases, teachers may want to decide how groups are composed, to facilitate the inclusion of disaffected or problematic students. Example 2: sometimes teachers choose to have the students decide what task they want to perform according to their talents (drawing, performing, writing texts…); in other cases, teachers compel all the students to try all the activities. 38

Example 3: teachers may decide to take care of all the technical tasks themselves (typically, at pre-school level); on the other hand, they may let all the technical tasks in the students’ hands (especially at high-school level). The examples show that the PoliCultura experience, from a pedagogical point of view, can be interpreted in many different ways by the teachers. Link to the curriculum: within PoliCultura, schools are free to tackle whatever subject they want. Over the years, stories about the most disparate subjects have been created, ranging from physics (a little pirate in need of learning the “floating laws” in order to build a new ship) to Roman history (a highschool class making Pompeii people come alive again, for one night). This freedom of choice boosts the participants’ creativity to find ways to make it fit within the curriculum (and avoid the colleagues’ and parents’ fear of a “waste of time”). Benefits: in that almost all narratives created within PoliCultura have a strong link either to the curriculum or to a school activity, the range of benefits for students is quite wide, because the specific benefits connected to the topic dealt with are included (e.g. “better understanding of…” or “enhanced curiosity towards…”). In addition, students learn to work in groups, they enhance their communication skills, including through using technology (media literacy); they acquire, as may be expected, technical skills (audio-editing, video editing, etc.) and eventually a number of the 21st century skills, like a professional attitude towards tasks and deadlines (see The European key competences (listed on page 42 are all acknowledged: learning to learn, communication in mother tongue, etc. For greater detail on the benefits see p.42.

How a story is created The narratives of PoliCultura combine pictures, videos, audios (music) and texts. They are usually between 5 (“short story”) and 25 minutes long (“full story”). They are, as explained above, organised into chapters and sub-chapters. The teacher may choose the format (short or full) that better fits her need and the effort she is willing to devote. The experience may range from a minimum of 3 weeks (2 hours per week) to a maximum of 2-3 months. There are no constraints as regards the literary genre of the narrative, which can be a fiction, a documentary, a scientific essay, a tour guide, a reportage, and so on, according to the participants’ preferences. All the participants in PoliCultura are given a short user manual explaining the main steps towards creating a story, which are briefly summarised as follows: 1. Decision on what the story will be about The first thing to do is to decide what the story will be about; depending on the students’ age, the teacher plays a major/minor role in this: at pre-school level, the teacher takes the decision while at high-school level students are more involved. PoliCultura leaves participants free to select whatever topic they want and this facilitates making links to the curriculum,. It must be noted that so far, a major trend among the 1,500 stories delivered has been that of presenting something relevant to the students’ background, like local history, art, traditions, culture. These works are a special form of collaborative self-expression about the students’ cultural context. 2. Story-board definition The authoring tool requires the story to be split into chapters and sub-chapters; this decision is usually taken during a plenary session involving all the students and the teachers. Then, in almost all cases, the class is split into groups that take care of specific chapters/sub-chapters of the story.

3. Content gathering Once the topic is chosen, “raw” material must be collected from the most various sources: from books to the internet, local experts and so on. Sometimes, narratives are created after another educational project has taken place so the raw material is already there, to be selected and refined. 4. Multimedia content creation Starting from the materials selected during step 3, students create the multimedia content for the story: short videos, texts, drawings (to be scanned), images, audios (possibly with music) etc. This is one of the most creative and also more benefits-enhancing phases of the work. The recording of the audios enhances the students’ ability to perform in front of the others. 5. Upload of content in the tool Once all the content needed is ready and in good shape for the tool (which means – compliant with the tool’s specific constraints on number of words, file size, format etc.), the uploading phase begins. Together with step 6, evaluation, this is the moment in which students get media literacy benefit for they have to understand whether the multimedia, interactive communication will be effective or not. 6. Evaluation Again the class gathers and in plenary session evaluates the work. Teachers acknowledge that students show a high degree of critical thinking in this phase, since they really care about how good the final work will be. 7. Final changes and generation Following phase 6, the necessary changes are done to finalise the work . As the reader can see, the above steps are quite general and can be applied to other DST projects with different tools.


Benefits of DST – PoliCultura’s approach For a teacher to decide to start a “special” activity with her class, it is crucial to know what benefits it is likely to bring to her students, especially at higher grades where criticism for neglecting the curricular subjects by the school principal, the colleagues and the parents, is to be feared. That is why the designers of PoliCultura carefully monitor the activity’s educational impact every year, to make sure to provide participants with sound data on the benefits they may get and how.

Data collection method Every year, all participant teachers are administered two online surveys, one at the beginning (on their expectations) and one at the end of the experience (on the results). Through more than 30 questions (with the additional option for free comments) the survey inquiries about: • The participants’ profile (the school, the socio-cultural context, the class, the average performance of the students, inclusion issues, presence of excellent students) • The expectations/plans in terms of pedagogical implementation and benefits to be achieved • The knowledge required to successfully perform the experience in terms of TPACK model (Koehler, Mishra, 2005; Mishra, Koehler, 2014), to investigate the distributed and dynamic nature of these kinds of knowledge within working groups (Di Blas et alii, 2014). • The results in terms of pedagogical implementation (did things go the way they were planned?) and benefits achieved • The knowledge required to successfully perform the experience as acknowledged at the end of the experience (who has learnt what, at the end?). 40

In addition, around 100 teachers per year are interviewed in depth via Skype; the transcript of the conversation is refined and the most interesting features are organised into a “schema” for further analysis (also thanks to a state-of-art exploratory portal; Di Blas et alii, 2014). Eventually, the stories are analysed by a panel of experts in educational technology and multimedia communication.

Results The results are widely discussed in many publications (see for example Di Blas 2015; Di Blas, Ferrari, 2014). In this chapter, data from 2014-15 will be presented on the main educational benefits gained by the students. 401 teachers answered the survey; 28,2% were from high-school; 25,9% from junior high-school, pre-school: 14,6%; primary school: 29,4; 1,9% “mixed Teachers were asked what aspects were enhanced by this special experience with respect to their daily routine. As table 1 shows, motivation stands out as prominent, immediately followed by participation.

Table 1. Aspects enhanced by PoliCultura in the teachers’ opinion: motivation stands out as prominent.

When interviewed and asked whether they ever felt discouraged by the huge work-load, a teacher (high-school) answered:

“Actually, it was I who felt discouraged, since at a certain point I saw they were lagging behind with their normal studying and homework, for the other subjects. I was afraid I had ridden them too hard so I asked them whether they wanted to give up, but they said they didn’t want to, that they cared about the project. This happened at the very beginning, when the class had just split into groups and I had already given them reading materials, books they were

meant to synthesise. I told them, if you can’t manage to do this, it does not matter. But then they all came with the works (the synthesised documents) done and I felt so proud! Sometimes news about school are negative: I wish I could show to parents how good their children can be, what good relations among them they can have, how hard they can work, with pride!” Teachers were also asked to rate the achievement by their students of a number of benefits (most of them “21st century skills” –; the results are shown in table 2.

Please rate yout level of agreement with the following statements

1. Completely disagree

2. Disagree

3. Neither agree nor disagree

4. Agree

5. Completely agree


The students have improved their understanding of the content







The students have improved their curiosity towards the subject







The students have improved their creativity







The students have improved their critical thinking







The students have improved their communication skills







The students have improved their team work







The students have improved their media literacy (the ability to communicate using various media)







The students have improved their ICT literacy







The students have improved their sense of initiative (i.e. management of goals and time, self-learning ability)







The students have improved their planning ability







The students have improved their leadership and their sense of responsibility







The students have improved their motivation and participation in school activities







Answers: 401 Table 2. Teachers’ opinion on the benefits gained by their students 41

Through the interviews a closer look at how things went into the classroom can be gained.

Conclusions: DST and key competences acquisition

As regards cognitive benefits, a teacher says:

DST has a lot to say about the European eight Key Competences for Life-long learning.52 Although it cannot be claimed to cover them all, as may be expected, it certainly does a great job in addressing some of them. Namely:

“The work has been completed thanks to the cooperation and enthusiasm of all the students; the greatest satisfaction for them is that they now are in full command of the topic, in a critical perspective.” (junior high-school). As regards communication skills, another teacher reports:

“This kind of activities helps going beyond the ‘self-reference’ attitude, so typical at school, where a child writes basically addressing her own teacher; in the case of PoliCultura, instead, kids had to strive to communicate to an audience; they had to get set for approval or even criticism. In a word, they knew they were talking to somebody real.” (Primary school). In relation to “media literacy”, a high-school teacher declares:

“Even the rigidity of the format (i.e. counting words, counting images, etc.) was helpful in organizing the work. Students started with long texts, but they realised by themselves that they needed to tighten their wording. At the beginning I did not realise that the narrative format would force the students to re-organise their way of thinking and presenting the material, and that it was not just a transfer from a medium (paper) to another (computer). Somehow, the format helped us to complete our research; it could not have been done with traditional linear writing.”

• Communication in mother tongue: the ability to express and interpret concepts, thoughts, feelings, facts and opinions in both oral and written form (listening, speaking, reading and writing). • Communication in foreign languages, which involves, in addition to the main skill dimensions of communication in the mother tongue, mediation and intercultural understanding. • Digital competence involves the confident and critical use of information society technology (IST) and thus basic skills in information and communication technology (ICT); • Learning to learn is related to learning, the ability to pursue and organise one’s own learning, either individually or in groups, in accordance with one’s own needs, and awareness of methods and opportunities; • Sense of initiative and entrepreneurship is the ability to turn ideas into action. It involves creativity, innovation and risk-taking, as well as the ability to plan and manage projects in order to achieve objectives. The individual is aware of the context of his/her work and is able to seize opportunities that arise. It is the foundation for acquiring more specific skills and knowledge needed by those establishing or contributing to social or commercial activity. This should include awareness of ethical values and promote good governance; • Cultural awareness and expression, which involves appreciation of the importance of the creative expression of ideas, experiences and emotions in a range of media (music, performing arts, literature and the visual arts). The motivation raised by the use of technology by young “digital natives” seems to be a key factor, as two quotes by



one of the teachers (primary school) who took part in the TALES’ pilots clearly show:

“Doing DST at school is really motivating for the students […] They have come to understand that they have to write for someone who will really read, someone who doesn’t know them […] We have spent a lot of time on this: sometimes we go through the texts again and I tell them ‘What would you think if you were to read this?’ and they say ‘No, it’s boring, let’s change it’ […] I must say that creating a digital story raises the children’s motivation because they create a ‘product’ that is completely different with respect to their notebook that nobody sees except mummy and daddy. It’s a ‘product’ that many people will see, that you can see on the Interactive Whiteboard, that you can access from home, through the PC, it’s something different, close to them…they are digital natives.”

References Barthes, R. Image-Music-Text. London: Fontana, 1977. Barrett, H. “Digital Story Research Design”. Kean University Digital Storytelling Conference 2005. Retrieved from ResearchDesign.pdf Baumann, R. Verbal art as performance. Illinois: Waveland press, 1984. Benjamin, W. Kunstverket i reproduksjonsalderen. Oslo: Gyldendal Norsk forlag, 1975. Burgess, J. E. “Hearing ordinary voices: Cultural studies, vernacular creativity and digital storytelling”. Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies, 20(2), 201-214. 2006. Retrieved August 16, 2011, from au/6243/1/6243.pdf Chatman, S. Story and Discourse Narrative structure in fiction and film. Cornell University press, 1989. Denzin, N. K. Interpretive Ethnography Ethnographic practices for the 21st century. London: Sage Publications, 1997. Di Blas, N. “21st Century Skills, Global Education and Digital Storytelling: the Case of PoliCulturaExpo 2015”. In Yildiz, M.; Keengwe S. (Eds.) Handbook of Research on Media Literacy in the Digital Age. IGI global (In press), 2015. Di Blas, N. & Ferrari, L. “Digital Storytelling at School: What Kind of Educational Benefits?” In Garzotto, F., Paolini, P. & Sabiescu A. (Eds.) International Journal of Arts and Technology (IJART) [Special issue]. V7 N1, 38-54 2014.


Di Blas, N., Fiore, A., Mainetti, L., Paolini, P. & Vergallo, R. “A Portal of Educational Resources: Providing Evidence for Matching Pedagogy with Technology”. In: Research in Learning Technology, vol. 22, 2014, May 2014, 1-26, ISSN: 2156-7069. UK: Co-Action Publishing, DOI: 10.3402/rlt. v22.22906 2014.

Gersie, A., & King, N. Storymaking in Education and therapy. Stockholm: Jessica Kingsley publishers, 1992.

Di Blas, N. & Paolini, P. “Beyond the School’s Boundaries: PoliCultura, a Large-Scale Digital Storytelling Initiative”. In Leo, T., Spalazzi, L., Ghislandi, P. & Ierardi, M.G. (Eds.) Journal of Educational Technology & Society Special Issue on “Innovative technologies for the seamless integration of formal and informal learning”, vol. 16, 1; 15-27. ISSN: 14364522 (online) and 1176-3647 (print) 2013.

Hovland, B. I. “Fra fortelling til moralsk handling”. Kirke og kultur, 2002.

Di Blas, N., Paolini, P., Sawaya, S. & Mishra, P. “Distributed TPACK: Going Beyond Knowledge in the Head”. In Searson, M. & Ochoa, M. (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2014 (pp. 2464-2472). Chesapeake, VA: AACE 2014. Digital Storytelling Center, University of Houston. http:// Dreon, O., Kerper, R. & Landis, J. “Digital Storytelling: a Tool for Teaching and Learning in the YouTube Generation”. In Middle School Journal May 2011 • Volume 42 • Number 5 • Pages 4-9

Horsdal, M. Telling lives. Taylor & Francis, 2011.

Høystad, O. M. “Identitet eller integritet? : det samansatte mennesket og den filosofiske antropologien”. In Høystad, O. & Time, S. Om kulturell identitet : en essaysamling. 1997. Jamissen, G. & Dahlsveen, H. “Fortellingen - fra Hollywood til Homer”. In Haug, K. H., Jamissen, G. & Ohlmann, C. “Digitalt fortalte historier refleksjon for læring”, pp. 45-61. Oslo: Cappelen Damm Akademisk, 2012. Jansson, T. The Summer Book. New York: New York Book Reviews Classics, 2012. Koehler, M. J. & Mishra, P. “What happens when teachers design educational technology? The development of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge”. Journal of Educational Computing Research. 32(2), 131-152 2005.

Dunning, J. F. Storytelling in the Secondary English Classroom: Theoretical and Empirical Perspectives Relevant to the Development of Literacy. Unpublished Thesis, University of London, 1999.

Koehler, M.J., Mishra, P., Kereluik, K., Shin, T.S., Graham, C.R. “The Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge Framework”. In J.M. Spector, M.D. Merrill, J. Elen, M.J. Bishop (Eds.), Handbook of Research on Educational Communications and Technology (101–111). New York: Springer, 2014.

European Key Competences Retrieved from en.htm

Lambert, J. “Digital storytelling: How digital media help preserve cultures”. The Futurist, 41(2), 25 2007. Retrieved August 16, 2011, from EBSCO Publishing.

Frazel, M. Digital Storytelling Guide for Educators. ISTE, 2010. 44

Hodne, B. “Personlige fortellinger”. Norveg 31, 41-68, 1988.

Lambert, J. Digital Storytelling Cookbook. Berkeley: Center for Digital Storytelling, 2010. Retrieved from 7df69a/51684d92e4b0cbd5dcd53812/51684d92e4b0cbd 5dcd53814/1332882649367/cookbook_fce.pdf Lambert, J. Looking Back to Look Forward-Digital Storytelling at a Crossroad. 2014. Retrieved from Lundby, G. Historier og terapi Om narrativer, konstruksjonisme og nyskriving av historier. Oslo: Tano Aschehoug, 2003. McDrury, J. & Alterio,M. Learning Through Storytelling in Higher Education. London: Kogan Page, 2003. McKenney S. & Reeves T. Handbook of Research on Communications and Educational Technology. New York: Springer, 2014. Retrieved from publication/265092587_Educational_Design_Research/ links/54b42e9c0cf2318f0f96bfe5.pdf McTigue, E. M. “Teaching Young Readers Imagery in Storytelling: What Colour is the Monkey?” in The Reading Teacher, 2010. Miller, P. J. “Stories have histories reflections on the personal in personal storytelling”. In Taiwan Journal of Anthropology, 2009. Mundy-Taylor, J. Storytelling Engagement in the Classroom: Observable Behavioural Cues of Children´s Story Experience. Unpublished Thesis, University of Newcastle, 2013. Munn, H. D. Oral Storytelling and Student Learning: Once Upon a Classroom… Unpublished Thesis, University of Toronto, 1999. Myerhoff, B. Stories as equipment for living Last talks and Tales of Barabara Myerhoff. Michigan: The university of Michigan press, 2010.

Ohler, J. Digital Storytelling in the Classroom. New Media Pathways to Literacy, Learning and Creativity. California: Corwin, 2013. Porter, B. DigiTales. The Art of Digital Stories. USA: Bernajean Porter Consulting, 2004. Rasmussen, T. (n.d.). “Selvbiografier til glede og nytte”. In Norsk medietidsskrift 18. Robin, R. “Digital Storytelling: A Powerful Technology Tool for the 21st Century Classroom”. In Theory Into Practice, 47:220–228. 2008 Retrieved from publication/249901075_Digital_Storytelling_A_Powerful_ Technology_Tool_for_the_21st_Century_Classroom/ links/53f33e8d0cf2da8797445bd0.pdf Robinson, K. & Aronica, L. Creative Schools. Revolutionizing Education from the Ground Up. USA: Penguin, 2015. Sadik, A. “Digital Storytelling: a Meaningful TechnologyIntegrated Approach for Engaged Student Learning”. In Education Tech Research Dev (2008) 56:487–506. Retrieved from digital+storytelling.pdf Sharples, M., Adams, A., Ferguson, R., Gaved, M., McAndrew, P., Rienties, B., Weller, M., & Whitelock, D. Innovating Pedagogy 2014: Open University Innovation Report 3. Milton Keynes: The Open University, 2014. Teacher Tech & Potter, M.L. Tell a Story, Become a Lifelong Learner. 2010. Retrieved from download/D/F/0/DF087781-EDEF-45E1-9FAA18FE7CD1E7E3/digitalstorytellingebook.pdf 45

Because it’s the journey that matters ... A man was always complaining about his luck. Everybody had money, family and joy except for him. So he decided to talk to God and ask for a solution. His life could not go on like that. In those days Man knew where God was and so he started his journey. He was entering a forest when he saw a sick wolf lying on the ground, just bone and skin. - Where are you going? – Asked the Wolf struggling to raise his head. As always the man took the opportunity to complain about his life: - I am going to see God because this cannot be! Everybody has money, family and joy except for me! I am the unluckiest man in the world! God will have to help me! - In that case, please, could you ask him why I am so sick? - Don’t worry! I will not forget about you. – Said the man leaving. In the middle of the forest he passed a clearing and he saw a wrinkled tree with no leafs that asked him: - Where are you going? - I am going to see God because I am the unluckiest man in the world and he got to help me! - Could you, please, also ask him why I am so weak? My leafs are gone and my roots are dry despite my youth and my will. - Don’t worry! I will not forget about you. – Said the man leaving. The night came and at the edge of the forest the man saw a cottage: smoke was coming out the chimney and through the windows a warm light invited in. Suddenly, the door opened illuminating the night and a beautiful woman came out and ran towards him: - Where are you going? – She asked as if she was in distress. - I am going to see God because… - he burst in complain again. - Oh, so could you please ask him why I am so sad all the time and why I feel so lonely? - Don’t worry! I will not forget about you. – Said the man leaving. He arrived at God’s Kingdom and before the almighty throne he complained: - Everybody has money, family and joy except for me! Why is that? I am the unluckiest man in the world! Life is so unfair! Patiently God said to him: - My son, there is no such thing as luck. Each Man has to find his own fortune. You have to look for it. You cannot wait seated to happiness fall in your lap. Open your eyes and search for it. 46

The man was radiant! He was not unlucky! He was no different from others after all. He would just have to search for his happiness. He asked God about the wolf, the tree and the woman and he left in haste. When he was passing the cottage the woman came to him and asked: - Did you speak to God? What did he say about me? Breathless from running the man answered: - Oh, he said that you just needed to find someone to share your life with… The woman smiled, and winking and blushing she said: - In that case, would you like to stay with me? Embarrassed and in hurry the man said: - I am sorry madam, but I have no time for that! God said that I should look for my fortune! That I could not wait seated to happiness fall in my lap! Sorry… - And he left running. When he passed the clearing and the tree made the same question he hardly stopped to answer: - God said there is a treasure in your roots. You have to ask someone to dig it and you will be fine… - Can’t you dig it for me? – Shouted the tree as the man had already passed and continued running excited. The man had already forgot about the wolf when suddenly he heard a weak voice almost whispering: - Did you ask God about me? It was the wolf and the man stopped to catch his breath. - Yes… He said that your problem is that you are starving and you need to eat. - Oh, really? – Asked the wolf getting up with what was left of his energy. He looked at the man incredulous of his own luck and ate him at once.




THE GOOD PRACTICES Patricia Huion; Marleen Mesotten (UCLL, Belgium)


Analysis of the Good Practices In this chapter we discuss twenty-two reflections on good practices we have gathered. We first describe the activities within each good practice. Next we discuss some emerging patterns: target audience, nationality, the European dimension, the link to the European key competences, the importance of a storyteller, choice of stories, evaluation and the difference between oral and digital storytelling. We continue linking teacher’s feedback to learning outcomes. Finally we pose two sets of questions. The first questions deal with the adoption of storytelling in class whereas the second group of queries link digital storytelling in a wide variety of formats to new educational needs.

Reflections Twenty-Two Good Practices of Storytelling in the Classroom Every teacher uses storytelling yet there are not many references in national curricula about how to use it. From our survey we also understand that both teachers and storytellers find it hard to explain the educational rationale behind storytelling in the classroom. We therefore devised an in-depth questionnaire asking teachers to reflect upon their storytelling praxis. However, gathering these descriptions proved to be more of a challenge than we had expected. Most teachers were excited about the TALES project and agreed storytelling is a powerful tool for learning but when asked to write down their own good practice, quite a few hesitated. So most good practices are what teachers have written themselves; for others we resorted to Skype interviews, conversations in a bus and in corridors when international classes were going on. These are the good examples we have collected.

Index of the Good Practices Of Storydragons, Silvernoses and Bookworms PHSt – Austria


Spielstadt – Jeuville – Playcity – Austria


Storytelling Festival in Primary School UCLL – Belgium

p. 54

Making Digital Stories with MS PowerPoint or MS Movie Maker – UCLL – Belgium

p. 55

What Does the Teacher Say? – UCLL – Belgium p. 56 Of Cuberdons, Belgian Waffles, Beer and Meatballs from Liege – UCLL – Belgium

p. 57

Is There a Moocy Way? – UCLL – Belgium

p. 58

Researched and Imaginary Story on a Longitude Denmark p. 59 Legend of the White Lady – Estonia

p. 60

Under the Same Sky: My Food Is Your Food POLIMI – Italy

p. 62

Bella, Buona e Solidale (Beautiful, good and responsible) – POLIMI – Italy

p. 64

Bones Don’t Lie – POLIMI – Italy

p. 66

“Storytelling Theater”, Halden Upper Secondary School – Norway

p. 68

Storytelling School in Skedsmo, with Marianne Sundal and Lise Grimnes – Norway p. 69 Polish-French Dragon Hunt – Poland

p. 71

European Tales Day – Poland

p. 72

Story House (Casa das Histórias) – Chapitô in a partnership with the Ministry of Justice Institute for Social Reinsertion – Portugal

p. 74

The Collection Bag – Portugal

p. 76

Time Capsule – Spain

p. 77

Dragons and Monsters –Sweden

p. 78

Multi Lingual Digital Story Telling Peace School London - United Kingdom

p. 79

Primary Languages Storybox Project with Goldsmiths PGCE Primary Course The Languages Company – UK

p. 80


Description of the Good Practices Of Storydragons, Silvernoses and Bookworms PHSt – Austria

In a series of four workshops the storyteller accompanied the children into their own storytelling process in which they were also allowed to use drama techniques. All the children were able to participate (not only the “gifted” tellers). The activities culminated in a storytelling night “Erzählfest” (a storytelling party) in which children and the storyteller performed stories in five different parts of the school among them, by candlelight in the attic of the 100 year old school-building. A short account can be seen at this address: Geschichtendrachen


This storytelling project was held in a primary school in Gleisdorf, Austria. A storyteller worked with children to do their own storytelling. The storyteller enriched the story repertoire of children with selected fairy tales and other traditional stories. The work presented here was done by a storyteller and three groups (each 20 pupils) of primary school students aged nine from an Austrian school in a small provincial town in Styria, Austria.


It was part of a school-wide reading project to foster reading skills (national policy in Austria) in which the storyteller was originally part of the reading motivation. However, his collaboration brought in a new focus and culminated in a storytelling event. The idea was to turn the strong metaphors in the tales into an actual holistic experience making children write/tell and act out their stories. After the children had read stories from fairy-tale books and listened to stories of the storyteller they were asked to select their favourite one and in a class processed the class favourites.

• To foster pupils’ silent reading and reading out skills. • To encourage pupils to read stories, make them their own and write, tell and perform. • All pupils are able to tell and present their own favourite stories. • Children experience the content and metaphors of fairy tales in a holistic way: in their minds as well as physically, emotionally, motoric. • Children take their spontaneity into the act of telling and showing (no assessment) and experience their own competence in doing so. • Cooperation between children in creating a positive, collaborative experience focusing on art, poetry and tales. • Children develop a natural presence in telling and performing. Time scale January – April 2014 Work at school and at home as well - culminating in a “storytelling fest”.;

Subject matter The mother tongue German: reading – listening - children choosing favourite stories – self-expression (children telling and acting out stories).

Presenter of the good practice Martina Karner VS Gleisdorf, 8200 Gleisdorf

The role of storytelling in the activity The storyteller considers himself an artist who fully lives in his stories without a pedagogic or methodical subtext and shows himself existentially touched by their metaphors, in this way enabling children to become “touched in their souls”. Fairy tales and stories as well as the art of storytelling allow children to become engaged in the stories with their whole being. Quote Gerald Hütter(2014) Radio OE 1, Austria: What we are and what we could be

“You remember those things well that you enjoyed. Everything else can be learned by making an effort using learning strategies, repetition etc., but it is difficult because there are no traces left in the brain. Things “go under your skin”, when there is meaning in them. It doesn’t help much if things are important for parents, teachers or other authorities if it does not touch me. If it is important to me I open my eyes and look and my brain reacts by emitting hormones and then I will remember because I made it my own…” An interesting anecdote One of the groups of children selected the story „The princess on the baldhead” which was written by one of their comrades. The story is about a lonely princess who is longing for a friend. How could one make this loneliness felt and acted out? – 6 pairs (role A: princess, role B: absent friend) were playing at the same time. The princess is trying to get into contact with B, but B is turning their back. And a short remark, “The princess was lonely and longing for a friend, but nobody was there” turns into a group scene full of suspense. Through the turned back of B also the audience feels the loneliness. At the end of the story the princess does find a friend, however. Also this scene was acted out by 6 pairs and the joy was made accessible to everybody. All the children in the group were involved in the creation of the scenes.


Spielstadt – Jeuville – Playcity - Austria This model of foreign language didactics called ‘Simulation globale’ involves the creation of a collective fictive setting such as living together in a village or small town. The teacher presented the idea of the “simulation globale”, according to the age of the learners he/ she let them choose their favourite setting or indicated the frame. “Jeuville” was used from the third up to the fifth year of French learning with 13 -15 year old pupils. “L’Immeuble” with a beginners’ group (age: 15) and with another second French year with 11/12 year old pupils. The teacher channelled the first activities (writing individual biographies, general set-up of the village such as history, landscape, climate, economic situation, first events, …). At the beginning frequently and later on from time to time the teacher told stories in order to stimulate thinking and to introduce new topics, new ideas. The teacher as a sort of storyteller starts the simulation by telling amusing or strange things that happen or have happened in the house or village. More and more the students participate and contribute their stories inspiring others. From time to time the teacher interposes new stories, new events (he has received a surprising letter or made an archaeological discovery, has met an interesting person or found out a mysterious detail about one of the persons …) Subsequently the teacher who had also developed an identity became a real member of the group, as a facilitator, not the head of the fictitious community. He/she reacted according to the required learning targets and the curriculum.


Some of the events were: • opening a restaurant • closing a post office • election campaign • initiative for soft tourism • baptism of a child (or an adult)

• • • •

demonstration against a planned power station opinion poll athletic competition marriage of a popular film star in the village

OBJECTIVES • Communication skills in foreign language (mother tongue in primary school), being able to express imagination and ideas, to present one’s project to an audience. • Mathematical competence, basic competences in science and technology occasionally. • Digital competence through using ICT and producing documents (texts, pictures, videos). • Learning to learn by different ways of working (on one’s own, with a partner, with a group). • Social skills through the ability to listen and accept other ideas, through creating and planning concepts together, through finding generally accepted solutions … • Civic competences through the acquisition of social and political basic knowledge, often in comparison to the situation in one’s own country (see detailed description) • Sense of initiative and entrepreneurship through simulating and calculating the opening or closing of a business, a restaurant, through planning an imaginary cultural or athletic event, a fair, etc. • Cultural awareness through learning and comparing customs, diverse fields of culture, media and so on. Time scale Since 1993 in diverse classes, in each case lasting a couple of years, in the beginning phase every lesson, comparatively frequently after the start-up period, later on sporadically according to the learning programme and actual opportunities.

Subject matter Creation of a (small) collective imaginary world by telling and writing stories, developing fictitious and imaginative actions based on realistic facts and knowledge, including various forms of written documentation, written and oral communication, creativity, learning processes in group dynamics, teamwork and multifaceted social aspects The role of storytelling in the activity The aim of using the method in the teaching/learning process is to adopt a pleasurable ludic element for gaining, practicing, improving and consolidating (foreign) language skills combined with (basic) knowledge of civic, cultural, economic, ecological, ethical, digital … facts and attitudes. Learners make up their own identities enriched by additional proposals from the whole group, the characters interact with each other in every conceivable life circumstance and develop acting procedures, possible reactions and corrections. They have a lot of fun, also due to some surprise effects.

‘A speciality of the French course was a game called „immeuble“, a so called „simulation globale“. Each student as well as the teacher chose a personality. Together they occupied 13, rue des fous (crazy street). I played a seven year old girl called Nadine LaBête …. This girl has an aunt living in the house in the rue des fous. From time to time Nadine comes to see her aunt (when I attend the French class). Nadine’s favourite occupation is to stir things up in the house and to wreak havoc between the tenants. On each occasion the teacher told new stories concerning the house and its tenants and all of us reacted to these with our own ideas. It is rather incredible what kind of things came to our mind when we developed the plot further all together. Surprising things happened on the spur of the moment.’ Presenter of the good practice Elisabeth Glavič Akademisches Gymnasium Graz, Bürgergasse 15, 8010 Graz

An interesting anecdote A girl learning ancient Greek in her regular programme from the age of 14 on wanted to learn French as well. So she came to the French class once or twice a week and could not be a constant inhabitant of the house. So she had to be somebody who comes from time to time, but who belonged somehow to the tenants. For the annual school report she wrote:


Storytelling Festival in Primary School – UCLL – Belgium


Teacher training students from all over Europe who took part in an Erasmus programme first got acquainted with the international character of folktales.

Primary school children: • communication in foreign languages • cultural awareness and expression • intercultural competence • to enjoy the stories

Then they learned about different forms in which to present folktales to children. Next every student chose a folktale from his/her own region/ country. They all presented their folktales to each other. Together with the teacher they decided which folktales were most suitable to be told to the children of the primary school (10,11, 12 years old). The students were divided in 6 groups, as there were to be 2 carrousels of 3 stories each. The students attended the international storytelling festival in Alden Biesen (Bilzen) and followed a workshop on storytelling. Subsequently the students prepared their performance in groups of 3 and were coached by the teachers of UCLL. The storytelling festival was held in the Sint-Mauritiusschool in Bilzen. All stories were told in English. Before the story, the students introduced themselves and connected with the children. After the story was told, the children were given a chance to express themselves in different creative ways and to learn something more about the storytellers’ background.


Finally the students reflected on what they had learned about storytelling (performing and using stories as a didactic tool).

EOS students: • communication in foreign languages • cultural awareness and expression • intercultural competence • to convince the students of the importance of storytelling as a didactic tool • to enjoy the stories

Time scale From 22-04-2014 to 30-04-2014 Subject matter Telling folktales in English An interesting anecdote The teachers thought the children would have difficulties in understanding English, some teachers even started translating words and sentences. But soon they realized that their pupils not only understood the story perfectly, but even answered and asked questions in English. So they had underestimated the knowledge of English of their pupils. Presenter of the good practice Anita Boesmans (teacher and international coordinator at the UCLL), Marleen Mesotten

Making Digital Stories with MS PowerPoint or MS Movie Maker - UCLL – Belgium Making digital stories with PowerPoint and MovieMaker was part of an ICT course for teacher trainees primary and preprimary education. The teacher made the pictures, manuals, computers, software and microphones available. In the beginning of the session he explained the process and let the students work in groups of 2 or 3. At the end of the session the story had to be completed. The teacher also kept track of the timing. Lesson plan: • The students selected at least 6 pictures and copied them to a map on their desktop page. • They made a photo album in MS PowerPoint (insert>photo album>new photo album). • They saved the digital story in the map on their desktop page. • They made a title page. • They wrote a text under each slide (notes). • They added on each page the necessary buttons (insert>forms>action buttons). • They made sure the buttons could only be used to move to the next page. • They recorded their story on each page (also on the title page) (insert>audio>record audio) • They saved their story as a PowerPoint presentation.

OBJECTIVES • Digital competence: making a digital story with MS PowerPoint or MS Movie Maker. • Social competence: the students create a story in groups of 2 or 3. • Communication in the mother tongue: the story is recorded in the mother tongue. They have to think about the text of the story. • Cultural awareness and expression: they create their own story and choose nice illustrations.

Time scale 2 hours for making 1 story Subject matter ICT The role of storytelling in the activity Children love stories, ICT can be an added value. An interesting anecdote A lot of students used their digital story in their practice and this was such a good experience that they made more stories. Presenter of the good practice Lieven Jacobs


What Does the Teacher Say? UCLL – Belgium During the international week Come2Graz 2014 the teacher gave two sessions for teacher trainees in which she used digital storytelling as a sense-making tool. She gave an old-fashioned PowerPoint-driven presentation which functioned as a narrative frame for the teacher trainees’ stories. However she used a narrative structure to tell about research on digital innovation in education.

Subject matter What is the teacher supposed to do in the world of flipped classes and MOOCs The role of storytelling in the activity Storytelling was used to initiate teacher narratives in the 21st century

She used the components of Burke’s pentad and gave the teacher trainees time to write down story ingredients after each component (Scene, Agent, Act, Agency, Purpose).

Presenter of the good practice Patricia.Huion

From the very beginning the students knew they had to create a story based on their notes, reflections, associations. After her presentation they had a very short time to create a story of their own which they performed and which was filmed by the teacher. The films were posted on Facebook inviting others to tell a story of their own.

OBJECTIVES • Think critically about the use of ICT in education. • Reflect upon teacher identities and the institution of education. • Switch from the analytical-logical way of knowledge construction to a narrative way. • Express a view from different perspectives (thinking hats.) • Become culturally aware of the differences between the physical and virtual world. • Use imagination and creativity to voice new possible worlds. • Increase student’s creativity.


Time scale 8 hours

Of Cuberdons, Belgian Waffles, Beer and Meatballs from Liege UCLL – Belgium The Cuberdons together with Belgian Waffles, a Belgian beer and Meatballs from Liege are short stories teacher trainees created to co-construct a whodunit. They used food to introduce aspects of Belgian culture to the partners of the Grundtvig project Learning to Learn By Teaching (L2LByTe, 2012-2014) Although they were adult students they developed a concept for pupils between the ages of 12-14. We researched the following topics: how do nations present their culture through traditions, food& drinks, dance& music; how do teachers use knowledge clips, social media and e-learning platforms in their teaching praxis? We tinkered with Popplet lite, Total recall, Simple mind+, Google search, Quizcast, Twitter, Screenchomp, Toontastic, Fotobabble, Prezi, voice-over in PowerPoint, IMovie, MovieMaker, Facebook groups. • • • • • •

We brainstormed possible scenarios of widened learning. We created a story frame We gathered visuals from the Internet We discussed and tried story coherence We performed the story in our Facebook group We presented it to the other partner countries who created their own stories following our story • We reflected on the learning outcomes • We reflected on the (changing) teacher identities


Time scale 4 sessions of 3 hours and homework Subject matter Culture The role of storytelling in the activity L2LByTe embraced the flipped class paradigm inviting both students and teachers to create knowledge clips. As a consequence we introduced storytelling as a way to “transfer” and construct new information and knowledge. Presenter of the good practice Patricia Huion

• To increase their fluency in English as a foreign language • To understand different cultures • To become digitally literate • To explore new ways of teaching


Is There a Moocy Way? UCLL – Belgium The teacher shared with fellow teachers and educational researchers a Mystory (Denzin 2003) to make sense of her experiences attending a MOOC on storytelling. She presented it and introduced from the very beginning Boaz’ three wishes structure to co-create the next level of the narrative. She followed the MOOC, kept a diary, linked her diary notes to theoretical frameworks and visual metaphors, told a multimedia story, shared her reflections using the three wishes formula, posted the story on Facebook and created a narrative space. She asked her fellow teachers to share their three wishes and thus co-create a digital story on learning in MOOCs.

OBJECTIVES • Defining what it means to learn in a MOOC • Defining what it means to be a teacher and teaching a MOOCed subject Time scale ECER conference 2014 Subject matter Learning experiences in a MOOC from a teacher’s perspective


The role of storytelling in the activity MOOCs are relatively new. We can’t quantify user’s experiences as it’s about changing, willing to open up, to adopt a mind shift. Besides at the time when the teacher created this narrative there were no learning analytics research results dealing with user’s experiences other than how many chapters were followed. The teacher needed to define the experience as she was thinking about creating and adopting MOOCs. Storytelling was used as a way of opening up the learner’s experience. Presenter of the good practice Patricia Huion

Researched and Imaginary Story on a Longitude – Denmark

Time scale A whole week including a two-day stay in a cabin.

Sixth graders (12 till 13 years old) had to create a digital story in which they used pictures and a movie using laptops, mobiles, tablets (MovieMaker, IMovie, Instagram). The story also included a documentary.

Subject matter To create a sense of connectivity. We see something of ourselves in all of the world.

The students had to choose a degree of longitude and think of stories that could happen there. The students were given a 30 minutes’ introduction by the teacher, then they held a group brainstorming. Topics were written on the blackboard. The students selected the topics for their story, they created the stories in groups. At the end the students had to present their stories for the whole school and their parents (100 people).

OBJECTIVES • Project-based learning • Mother-tongue: write a storyboard, create a story and then a movie, research • Foreign languages: research articles were quite often in English • Cultural awareness: main target: how do people live on that degree of longitude? • Learning to learn: daily reflection on what have I learnt and what can I do better? • Initiative and entrepreneurship: put ideas into action. • Social and civic: not explicit but as a teacher you have to think about it. Students had to work in group and alone. • Mathematical competence: at a low level: measure distance and height • Digital competence: everybody had to work with pictures, sounds, movie, use different apps.

The role of storytelling in the activity It had to be a digital story as they had to use pictures and a movie. The story also included a documentary. An interesting anecdote After the project was finished the team that worked on the degree of longitude crossing in Iceland contacted an Icelandic girl and showed her their film. They got a lot of feedback which they shared in class. All pupils realized they could contact people on their degree of longitude and organized Skype-conversations. Presenter of the good practice Peter Bergqvist GI Nyborgvej 86, 5772 Kvaerndrup. Denmark


Legend of the White Lady – Estonia This was part of a Comenius School Partnership project called From Fantasy to Reality: A Voyage of Discovery. The children set out on a journey of discovery from Fantasy (discovering myths and legends across Europe) to Reality (comparing European Culture and the Environment). In the first year all schools went on a journey of discovery (FANTASY), with the theme “Myths and Legends”. The children researched traditional myths in their own countries using drama, and ICT. They visited the local castle and got to know about the legend of The White Lady. Then they acted the play. They reviewed the story, using photos from the play and a PowerPoint presentation. Finally they told their own story or a new modern version of The White Lady. The legend of the white lady: On the Baptistery’s circular window built into the southern wall of Haapsalu Dome Church a female figure appears during the nights of the full moon in August. She has been named the White Lady. How and why this woman reveals herself on the chapel’s window for centuries is recounted in the following legend.:


In the Middle Ages, during the reign of Oesel-Wiek Bishop, every canon was supposed to lead a chaste and virtuous life according to the rules of the monastery. Access of women to the Episcopal Castle was forbidden by threat of death.   However it so happened that one canon and an Estonian girl fell madly in love with each other. As the young people could not stay apart, the canon dressed the girl up as a boy and brought her to the castle to sing in the choir. For a long time it remained the secret, but one day the deception was discovered. The verdict of the Bishop was harsh: the canon was thrown to the castle’s dungeon to starve to death, while the girl was immured alive in the wall of the Baptistery, then under construction. The cries of the poor woman was heard for several days until she finally became silent.  Yet her soul could not find peace and, as a result, for centuries she has appeared on the Baptistery window to grieve for her beloved man and also to prove the immortality of love.  The White Lady Festival has been one of the highlights of the summer in Haapsalu for three decades. In the weekend closest to the August full moon the Haapsalu old town is transformed into a buzzing marketplace, where the vibrant cultural programme lasts from dusk till dawn and when darkness falls open-air performances of the White Lady take place.

OBJECTIVES • The focus is on oral language development, knowledge about local history and creativity Time scale 3 weeks Subject matter History, Mother tongue The role of storytelling in the activity Through traditional storytelling knowledge is given life while students’ speaking skills are developed.

An interesting anecdote A modern version of a student`s story: Story about the White Lady (symbol of Haapsalu)and Old Tomas (symbol of Tallinn):

Once upon a time there lived a man called Old Tomas, who heard about the White Lady in Haapsalu who was walled up. He was interested in her and decided to visit her. He climbed down from his guard tower and went to Haapsalu. He looked for the Lady for a long time, but he couldn`t find her…By this time it was getting dark and Old Tomas was really sad, but then… suddenly the sky became bright and there was a lady. She was really beautiful and Old Tomas liked her at once. They had a little chat, but Old Tomas had to go back to his guard post in Tallinn. He promised to return, but unfortunately he couldn`t. He missed the White Lady and since then he looks from his tower every day toward Haapsalu. Presenter of the good practice Primary School of Haapsalu Ehte, 14, Haapsalu, Estonia


Under the Same Sky: My Food Is Your Food – POLIMI – Italy

Every year, from 2006, the Politecnico di Milano (Italy) promotes a digital storytelling competition for Italian schools. In 2013-14, an international version was made available, on the topic of the forthcoming EXPO2015 fair: “Feeding the planet, energy for life”. The target group of this competition were classes/groups of students under the guidance of their teacher(s), aged between 4 and 18. The work presented here was the result of a cooperation between two primary schools, one located in Italy and one in a refugee camp in Somalia. In Italy two classes were involved (primary school, second year), in Somalia a group of students of different ages but comparable to the Italians in terms of performances. The Italian classes counted 44 students on the whole; most were quite high attainders. 5 were children with learning disabilities and 6 were children with certified special needs. The Somali group was composed of children of different ages from a refugee camp; most were orphans and in great need of being engaged in some meaningful educational activity. Due to the extremely difficult situation in Somalia, it may happen that children aged 12 and more are not yet able to read nor write, and therefore they sit in the same “class” with younger students.


The digital storytelling activity was framed into a larger programme of intercultural exchange between Italy and Somalia, the goal of which was to create a book comparing the different traditions of the two countries. One of the “chapters” had to be about food, so the material fitted perfectly into the competition on the EXPO2015 themes (“Feeding the planet, energy for life”). The teacher organised the Italian students (aged 8, from two different classes of the same institute) into groups. Each group was in charge of a specific “chapter” of the multimedia story and they started writing the texts. When it came to images, groups were remixed so that the

right “competences” could be present in each of them. Some students who were more technically-minded than the others took a leading role. Generally speaking, the work was organized with heterogeneous groups (i.e. groups putting together high and low performing students): in this way, even the pupils with some form of difficulty (learning disabilities) found a role and participated with enthusiasm. Inclusion of problematic pupils was guaranteed by the high level of engagement. When texts and images were ready, audios were recorded: by each student, in front of the whole class. Eventually all the materials were introduced into an authoring tool provided by HOC-LAB of Politecnico di Milano (organiser of the competition). The story can be seen at this address: INTERNATIONAL/1620/

OBJECTIVES • The overall goal was making children understand and accept cultural diversities. • Competences to develop: • Group work • Peer-to-peer learning • Communication skills • Multimedia communication skills • Performance skills Time scale January – April 2014 Subject matter Comparison between Italian and Somalian food traditions and habits.

Two interesting anecdotes The teacher personally visited the Somalian refugee camp during her Christmas holidays to help them with the work; their technical equipment is very poor (and their connection limited). In the Italian class, there was a Chinese girl who had just arrived from China. She hardly spoke Italian and was very shy; but when she heard that all the others had a part in the story, she forced herself and got a part too (a whole “chapter”!), to her teachers’ surprise. The role of storytelling in the activity The teacher was not new to using digital storytelling in the classroom. Due to her many years’ experience with this practice (that in her own words “totally changed her way of teaching”), she was confident that her students would benefit from it. She declared: “When the storytelling activity is on, students cannot think about anything else”.

Presenter of the good practice Cinzia Andreoni (the teacher who ran the experience)


Bella, Buona e Solidale (Beautiful, good and responsible) – POLIMI – Italy The work presented here was done by a group of 30 students selected among 6 primary school classes from the same institute. All children were aged 8. The children were all in need of improving their language and communication competences: the activity was actually part of a special national project to reinforce competences; it was run during additional hours, in the afternoon, over 3 months, following the explicit agreement of the parents. Three teachers were involved: the “main” teacher, an appointed supervisor of the special project and an expert in the use of technologies. First of all, the 30 students were selected according to their need of improving language competences: 30 children from 6 classes, all 3rd graders. They were organised into groups of 5-6 children each according to their talents: those who wanted to organize the story, the ones who were more keen on writing or on drawing images etc. Groups were generally heterogeneous, mixing students with different attainment levels . The groups were quite flexible and changed over time. Eventually all the materials were introduced into an authoring tool provided by HOC-LAB of Politecnico di Milano (the competition’s organiser). The story can be seen at this address:

OBJECTIVES The overall goal was enabling children to improve their language and communication skills. At the end of the project, teachers noted improved attitudes towards the issue being dealt with (responsible commerce). Enhanced technical skills were also reported.


Time scale January – April 2014 30 hours of work on the whole, distributed across 12 afternoon meetings. Subject matter A story (fiction) about two bananas grown according to two contrasting approaches: one by a small cooperative of independent workers (responsible commerce), the other in the frame of a big multi-national company. The bananas compare their different destinies and in the end not only do they become friends but the multi-national one embraces the responsible commerce approach.

The role of storytelling in the activity The main teacher had already taken part in the digital storytelling initiative in year 2012-13. She considers storytelling in general as “the technique that is closest to children” and involves them most. In the multimedia version, she feels that students are “even more protagonists of their work: they can show what they mean, either by drawing and then scanning the images that correspond to what they have in mind or by finding them on the internet”.

An interesting anecdote Unfortunately students were not able to come to the final ceremony in Milan (the school has no funding for that and the families could not afford the fare for the long trip), so only the teacher came. But they all gathered in a big room in the school: students, the other classes, all the families and the school’s principal who endorsed the project. When they heard they had actually won the competition, the enthusiasm was very high. Presenter of the good practice Filomena Piepoli (the teacher who supervised the experience)


Bones Don’t Lie – POLIMI – Italy Bones don’t lie was a digital storytelling project submitted to the competition “PoliCulturaEXPO” in school year 2013-14. The work presented here was carried out by a class of highschool students from an Italian “Liceo Classico” (a highschool stream characterized by an emphasis on classics and humanities). The students were aged 14 (they were in their first year). The teacher described her students as in need of motivation: they were homogenous in social and economic terms, all from wealthy families, but not much committed to school. The students were organised into groups by the teacher. Within each group, there was a coordinator who was in charge of reporting to the teacher on the group’s progress. The story is about how human skeletons if properly analysed through modern techniques can tell a lot about the health problems of ancient people. It stems from an exhibition on the findings of two archaeological excavations at two necropolises near Rome. The teacher found the main bulk of the content and provided the students with materials to summarize. She ensured that all the students within the groups tried all the activities (writing the texts, creating/editing the images, recording the audios…). Each group performed the evaluation on its own part of the story.

OBJECTIVES • To help students discover their passions and attitudes through a multi-faceted activity. The teacher said: “I know this may sound untypical, since it is usually in the last years of the high-school that we try to make students understand how to move on with their studies, and think about what they may do in life. But I think instead that it’s never too early to help youngsters discover what they could be good at, where their life could go. And actually, in this experience, it did happen that one boy got fascinated by the medical aspects of the investigation, another one said he would love to become an archaeologist, another one said he came to like design, etc.” • To help students improve their communication skills. She gathered the bulk of content for them, deeming them too young to perform an effective filter of all that could be found on the internet and also having in mind to focus on communication specifically. Then she asked the students to summarize the content into short fragments suitable for the multimedia format. Eventually, the most difficult task: she asked them to turn the texts from referential to phatic, i.e. engaging for the audience. “Read them to your parents and friends, see how they react!”. She admitted that not all the students were 100% successful in this, but still it was useful to make them understand the issue: telling stories must engage the audience.

Another sought-after benefit was an improved understanding of the subject at stake. The teacher realised that the various groups concentrated on their own “chunks” but were not familiar with the others – she said that if she could spend more time in the activity, she would add a further phase in which students would be somehow “forced” to study their peers’ work.


Technical skills were gained too: the teacher noticed with surprise that young students, who are considered “digital natives”, are good at some tasks (like using social media) but totally unprepared

for others. Through the digital storytelling activity they achieved a number of new skills, related to media literacy. Time scale January-April 2014 Work at school and at home as well. Subject matter The subject matter is “Roman culture” The role of storytelling in the activity The main teacher finds this kind of activity (storytelling) highly engaging: in her words, “students were very committed, it was a pleasure to see them working at the story”. Moreover, storytelling made students think about an audience: the teacher encouraged the students to perform at home, with their families and friends, to check whether their “story” was engaging. Presenter of the good practice Rita Tegon (the teacher who supervised the experience)


“Storytelling Theater”, Halden Upper Secondary School – Norway “Storytelling theater” is a topic in “Drama and Society” in the education programme for drama in upper secondary schools. This course has been held annually for nearly 10 years. During the day the course students worked with the following: • Imaginative stories • Listening exercises • Working with folktales • Learning techniques to perform a folktale

OBJECTIVES • The Teaching Objectives state that students should be able to do the following: • use basic techniques of storytelling; • explain some basics about storytelling; • compile a storytelling program for a specific audience; • facilitate a storytelling situation; • explain storytelling as a pedagogical method; • discuss the importance of storytelling in different cultures. The course meets the above objectives , and focuses on giving the students confidence to actually tell stories to a group of children.


Time scale The students have a one day course with a storyteller, then they work toward creating a programme for kindergarten. Subject matter To create a storytelling programme performed for children in kindergarten. The role of storytelling in the activity This is an annual course in traditional storytelling to give the students tools so that they can tell stories for children in kindergarten. Presenter of the good practice Heidi Dahlsveen and Mona Staal Pettersen at Halden VGS

Storytelling School in Skedsmo, with Marianne Sundal and Lise Grimnes – Norway

convinced of the method. We also tell stories continually on training days, so that those teachers who will can tell them in their classes.

This project was initiated by the Cultural Rucksack together with the education sector in Skedsmo, 2003. This is a large project with many sub-projects. There have been various activities related to the project, for teachers and for students.

Students We have found that in direct work with pupils and traditional storytelling, and especially if we are talking about projects that span more than a few lessons, it is good to have a goal to work towards. Our experience is related to students between 10 and 15 years old. We have tried many different approaches, and one of the things that works best is to work with a group of students who tell stories for younger pupils in a type of “performance”, preferably in a library or for younger classes at school.

(6th and 7th grade students)

Teachers This is the experience of the course lecturers after working with storytelling and teachers for ten years. It is hard to believe that all teachers should learn stories and integrate this in their teaching. There are exceptions - some teachers are particularly interested and like to tell stories in their classes. They quickly acquire new material, and are fearless as storytellers. There may also be exceptions if teachers are involved in a big project, and a very special story is to be rehearsed in this regard. We have therefore learned from this, and to give all teachers something which can be used in school, we have developed a type of “flashlight education” related to the story. It means that we are focused on how the teachers should look through the subject material, and learn to “spot” storytelling material in texts they have to convey. It can be character description (Napoleon), or just a picture or a scene (when Semmelweis53 understands the importance of washing hands). Then we work on this exact detail to make it come alive so that it can be merged into teacher education as it already is. By working in this way, all teachers can use the ideas and methods related to the art of storytelling, without it being too time consuming. So we work with this methodology related to quite specific topics which the teachers themselves suggest.

We have learned that it is good to work with pupils who are motivated, and at Sagdalen school, the students must apply to join the project, which runs every year. We take a group of 20 students (we are two trainers), and we work with these students three half-days before they are ready for the show. We also ask that students practice in between. Practice days are a week before the show and we have a run through the day before. In working with students we work through play and repetition. They work first with the story to tell (we have chosen stories in advance, four pieces, and try as far as possible to let the students get to choose which story they want to tell). We do a lot through playing. Then we put the students in groups of 4 and each student has a story. It is important that the stories are not long. So they make a written performance plan that we approve. Then they practice “a thousand times”, for the performance. We place great emphasis on safety within the group.

The strength of this methodology is that all teachers can be involved and it is possible to make steady progress despite a hectic schedule. In addition, teachers see that it works, and they may choose to expand the story as they become more 53 An example taken from the school material/teachers handbook


OBJECTIVES • Through traditional storytelling, knowledge is given life while students’ speaking skills are developed. On the course for teachers, we plan educational programs on topics in the curriculum. The focus is on oral language development, confidence in the performance situation, dissemination of subjects, as well as feasibility / usefulness. Both the teachers’ and the students’ stories are given importance. • In “the stage” course we put more emphasis on choreography, performance and genres such as storytelling, slam poetry, stand-up, according to what the school wants


Time scale Courses for teachers 5-8 teaching days in a year Storytelling Festival: Week 5 and 6 each year “Stage”: three days in a year per school Subject matter Traditional storytelling in schools and teaching. Presenter of the good practice Lise Grimnes and Marianne Sundal

Polish-French Dragon Hunt Poland During the school years 2012/13 and 2013/14 cooperation between a primary school in Czuryły and a primary school in Coutouvre (France) was established. Many activities were performed during the cooperation (correspondence in English, mails, postcards, preparing little handmade gifts, sharing information about Polish and French cultures) including a performance based on the picture book. The English teachers from Poland and France agreed to prepare a play in English based on the English picture book “We’re going on a bear hunt”. Students were acquainted with a story: the vocabulary was introduced and the teacher read it aloud showing illustrations as a visual aid. After completing post-reading activities children started to work on the scenario. The text of the storybook was adjusted: it was shortened, some parts were deleted, and due to lack of costumes ‘bear’ was changed into ’dragon’. The play included both individual speeches and choral ones. This fact made it possible to involve all students according to their English skills. The kids had to memorise their parts and afterwards several rehearsals were conducted. Finally the plays were recorded and sent to both partner schools. The children could watch their peers’ work result.

OBJECTIVES • develop children’s imagination • enable and improve their communication in a foreign language • make them aware of cultural diversity • evoke interests in foreign cultures • enjoy the stories • motivate to learn English • broaden horizons

Time scale School years 2012/2013 and 2013/2014 Subject matter Adapting an English picture book.

The role of storytelling in the activity Stories are an excellent tool in teaching English thanks to the easy language and content adjusted to young learners. Rhymes and repetitive parts used in stories help students to memorise new sets of language. Working with a story is an enjoyable way of learning English and students like it a lot. Preparing a performance by both schools was a kind of competition and thanks to that students were much more motivated in taking part in it. The form of the play made it possible to involve all the students. Presenter of the good practice Katarzyna Kozak Szkoła Podstawowa w Czuryłach Czuryły 44 08-106 Zbuczyn Poland


European Tales Day – Poland The primary School in Czuryły (Poland) took part in a Multilateral School Partnership Comenius (years 20112013). One part of the project was to present a folktale that is popular in a given country or known and liked by children there. The Polish school chose to present “Little Red Riding Hood”. After five months, the results of work of all partner schools (from Spain, Turkey, the UK, Bulgaria and Romania) were summed up during “European Tales Day”. Students who were to take part and perform in the project (12-13 year-olds) were acquainted with the aims concerning tale presentation. They prepared and made a survey aimed at choosing the most popular tale in our local area. Students, teachers and students’ families were surveyed and on the base of the answers the most popular tale was chosen (Little red Riding Hood). The story was to be prepared in a form of a storybook (PDF file) and theatre play. During 5 months (September 2011- January 2012), the students (divided into teams) together with a teacher prepared Polish and English texts of the story, illustrations, worked on play scenario, costumes and decorations – as a result all of them according to their interests and skills were involved in

the project (17 students). Additionally, a group of 6 students aged 8 was invited to take part in a play as a choir (singing songs in English) The story was printed in PDF format and spread in the partner schools. The play was performed several times: for students of our school during European Tales Day, for teachers and students from partner schools visiting the school in Czuryły and for parents. During European Tales Day, apart from presenting the Polish tale, students could watch the presentations and movies sent by partner schools as well as look at the printed storybooks prepared by them. As all schools prepared their stories both in English and in their native language, students could see/ hear different European languages. For younger students (6-9 of age) they were told with the help of the English teacher.

OBJECTIVES • provide partner schools’ educational communities with a variety of traditional tales • show that these deep roots of European culture prove that European countries are different but in fact the same. • develop children’s imagination • enable and improve their communication in a foreign language • make them aware of cultural diversity • evoke interests in foreign cultures • enjoy the stories Time scale September 2011- February 2012 Subject matter Telling European folktales in English and Polish.


Presenter of the story Katarzyna Kozak Szkoła Podstawowa w Czuryłach Czuryły 44 08-106 Zbuczyn Poland

The role of storytelling in the activity The presentation of European traditional stories not only helped in the development of children’s imagination but made them more open to other cultures. Students noticed that apart from all the differences, children around Europe have things in common – for instance they like tales. Children like tales and stories and prefer them to conventional texts. They have lots of fun and that is a crucial factor that helps in acquiring knowledge. The topic was integrated in the curriculum and satisfied its requirements concerning storytelling. The tales were prepared by all schools in different forms (presentations, movies, printed PDF files) which made it possible to present them to all our students (aged 6-13). During the project English acquisition was one of the goals, although not the primary one. That is why the tales were presented both in English (to older students by their peers) and in Polish (to younger ones by a teacher). Nevertheless, both groups (the team that took part in the project actively and the rest of the students who acted as the audience) benefited from improvement of their English. 73

Story House (Casa das Histórias) – Chapitô in a partnership with the Ministry of Justice Institute for Social Reinsertion – Portugal This project was developed for young boys between 14 and 18 years old, integrated into the prison system to fulfil an educational guardianship imposed by the Juvenile Court. The project aimed to contribute to the process of getting those young individuals out of delinquency. The storyteller/facilitator told a story at the beginning of the session. After the story he developed other activities, like games,. Progressively, the group worked through other narrative activities such as creating stories or working with books. The project had one storyteller/facilitator. He was the one who worked continuously with the groups, although some other storytellers could be invited to join in specific situations. Storytelling as a tool proved to be a spontaneous way of sharing imagination and ideas, providing an easy transition between listening and telling.

OBJECTIVES • Communication skills, especially listening (attention capacity) and being able to express imagination and ideas. • Social skills, through the ability to listen and accept other ideas and managing the opportunity to speak. • Self-empowerment. • Cultural awareness (many individuals are second generation immigrants). • The enrichment of the imagination by multicultural traditional motifs. • Taste for the magical themes of traditional folktales, sometimes rejected by young people of those ages. • Narrative skills (sequencing, suspense, point of view, etc.) 74

Time scale Between 1992 and 2000. And again since 2007 to the present day. Weekly sessions (1h20m). Subject matter To listen and to tell stories. The role of storytelling in the activity The use of storytelling aimed to enrich the young men´s imagination, cultural references and values by the passive act of listening. It also aimed to improve communication skills by actively telling stories. Storytelling as a tool proved to be a spontaneous way of sharing imagination and ideas, providing an easy transition between listening and telling. An interesting anecdote In 1995, a young man with a cognitive deficit only known by a nickname, who rarely attended, came to me at the beginning of a session with the persistent request: “Tell that one about the mouse.” I stalled, explaining that the first story was never a repetition, that only after telling first a new story would it be possible to tell a previous story, hoping that meanwhile he would give up because I didn´t know which story he was talking about. However he did not give up, he heroically listened to the first story, and when I finished it he started asking again: “That one about the mouse!” The first surprise was that he had understood what I had said about telling the story he wanted after the first one… The second surprise was that I really could not remember telling them any story about a mouse. I knew that when he insisted in this way, then there was some meaning to it, however limited was his cognitive perception. It was true; it was I who was wrong. I asked the others: “Did I recently tell a story about a mouse?” Silence. The mystery persisted and he continued to ask repeatedly: “The mouse!” Then another young man, also with a cognitive deficit, and a regular frequenter of the storytelling sessions, said: “That one about the Queen!” I still did not see what they were talking about, but now I was sure they were somehow right. Finally, some light! Oh, I thought to myself, that story of the Pomegranate Tree and the Monkey! and to

everybody’s relief, especially mine, I told the story. The mouse was a secondary character, a small figure among many other animals in this cumulative Portuguese folktale. That is why I could not remember it. And several times after that the young man came to the sessions to ask: “That one about the mouse!”. Later, he changed to: “That one about the Monkey!” About a year later, during an activity that took place in the gardens of the Educational Centre, this young man grabbed my hand and led me to the entrance of the centre. In front of a tree he said “monkey” repeatedly. I did not realise immediately as I was used to his sometimes incomprehensible behaviour which I had learned to accept as natural, but I found out later, to my astonishment, that in the entrance to the centre was a Pomegranate Tree. I still work in that place and when entering I often remember this young boy who had introduced me to this beautiful tree. Today I have three of them planted in front of my house and two of them already give pomegranates.

Presenter of the good practice Chapitô - NGO (Non-Governmental Organisation). Rua Costa do Castelo, nº1, 1149-079, Lisboa, Portugal. In a partnership with the Ministry of Justice – Institute for Social Reinsertion

António Fontinha Storyteller in the project Story House


The Collection Bag – Portugal This project was developed by a team from the public library for children between 3 to 10 years from schools in rural parishes in Beja district, Alentejo, a region geographically isolated and socially deprived, with high levels of school drop-out and emigration. The project was based on the library’s collection. Part of that collection was traveling inside a bag. Biweekly (one work session every two weeks) sessions of 60 minutes were developed in the schools around the content of the bag (objects, games, illustrations, books). The facilitator engaged the group in stories, verse, singing, reading, writing, etc. The group reflected and discussed the narratives, the characters, the actions, the outcomes, the social and moral values of the stories.

OBJECTIVES The sessions had different according to the age group.



Reading competences were at the centre, but the work aimed to develop other communication skills such as: • phonology and metalinguistic awareness. • progressive comprehension of more complex narrative structures. • mnemonics. • lexical improvement. • abstract and symbolic thinking. • logical thinking and reading anticipation. • Improvement of verbal and written enunciation. • listening skills. • literary references. Time scale January to June 2014/ October 2014 to March 2015 76

The role of storytelling in the activity The project was developed by a team from the public library that have been using storytelling in several other projects since the nineties. They acknowledge the efficacy of a methodology that includes oral storytelling in the work with the school community. Although storytelling had a central role in this project, it was not the only methodology involved An interesting anecdote In one session in a small village (it should be remembered that Alentejo is an historically underprivileged region) the group worked around literary texts about the “father”. At the end a child expressed his feelings about it, saying that his father was nothing like that, as he was always beating him. It is important to this project that through storytelling the children have the opportunity to express their feelings and thoughts and that they can evolve in terms of verbal expression. It is also important to the project to show these children that there are other models of child-parent relations, and other ways to relate to others than the violence they know. Presenter of the good practice Biblioteca Municipal de Beja, José Saramago (Public Library of Beja) Rua Luís de Camões , S/N, Beja, Portugal.

Time Capsule - Spain This project involved four countries, the Czech Republic, Spain, Portugal and Belgium. The pupils were between 11 and 15 years old. The aim of the project was to create a personal identity for the project ‘Voices: The European Teacher’. It consisted of the following activities: • making a time capsule box • making a file with their names, a picture of themselves, the word that described them with a little explanation, favourite object + picture; • making another file with the picture of the children, name and age, a picture of their favourite job and what they wanted be in the future; • an appointment in ten years to see what has happened; meanwhile they are exchanging their pictures with their European friends.

Time scale January till June Subject matter Identity + English and ICT The role of storytelling in the activity To increase motivation, to explain what we’re doing and to make students proud because they are in the film. Presenter of the good practice Dori Ortiz

OBJECTIVES • mother tongue: to create identity • English: to communicate with the other schools (send the activities to other students through mail and blog). • digital competence: use computers to make word files, insert pictures played with different frames. • cultural awareness: life during Christmas, talk about the most famous festivities in Catalonia: TIO, different timetables • learning to learn: look for information on the Internet, work independently and in groups • entrepreneurship: we began with a model and then we dropped it and allowed the children to create their own; the title is the only thing in common. • civic: find common things between all the children of the world and themselves • no mathematics but ICT. 77

Dragons and Monsters - Sweden Dragons and monsters is a still ongoing project led by Sagomuseet (folktale museum) in Sweden. The project is aimed at children of primary school aged 9-12 years old. The background of the project is that findings show that children’s reading is in decline in Sweden. The project will be conducted with students in grades 4,5 and 6 on Astradskolan in Ljungby. Calculated at about 25 students in each course, there will be approximately 100 students participating in the project. The project consists of four steps: 1. Storytelling Storytelling educators tell traditional material and literature on the topic of the project. The students will then have the knowledge of folktales and legends. This means that they can draw parallels between the folklore of the world and fantasy literature such as in Harry Potter and Tolkien and others. 2. Digital game The Folktale Museum’s own computer games, based on folklore, are introduced by an adult, and as a class they play the game. Then, the students try it themselves. 3. Role play The Folktale Museum has developed a role play based on legends and folklore. The game will be played in smaller groups, one adult per group participates. Together they create a frame story, a sequence of events with the problem to be solved. Children train their creativity, their oral language. It includes reading, storytelling, conversation and argument. 4. Library - the written word The school library is active in finding literature that corresponds to the theme in steps 1-3. The library continuously picks up books taking into account the students’ interests. 78

OBJECTIVES To work long term for one year to provide children and young people of different ages with an increased desire to read.

Time scale One year Subject matter To give love of reading through folklore and fantasy. The role of storytelling in the activity Through storytelling, using digital technology and role-play as a tool, the project wants to stimulate a literary interest in students, even among those students who have difficulty with reading and motivation. The storytelling creates tranquillity and provides a positive experience to get into the stories and literature. Digital games and role playing games are tools that do not always have a place in regular activities, although their purpose goes hand in hand with the curriculum. The teachers’/the storyteller’s experience in the project shows that the stories like folklore and fantasy world often attract a group of students who have low motivation to learn. These language development activities will aim to continue reading. They begin by telling stories from folklore. Based on the popular stories they then work on the game and reading related to folklore. They believe that oral storytelling helps children with little love of reading to understand the joy of a story. Presenter of the good practice Mikael Thomassson

Multi Lingual Digital Story Telling – Peace School London United Kingdom This project was developed for 11-17 year olds girls and boys from an Arabic and non-Arabic background, preparing for GCSE and A Levels examinations, focusing on improving the 4 learning skills. Context: 1st term - Thematic approach to studying. Students given a range of titles and given a vote. 2nd term – Incorporating Film/Media studies and cultural awareness by working with a partner school in Algeria. In the initial year, students were given freedom to produce a digital story on any topic they liked. This ranged from favourite hobbies to trips aboard. In 2013-2014 we progressed to a thematic approach. Students could vote on a subject and a story had to be made about that. ‘Journeys’ and ‘A day in my life’ were chosen. In the 2nd term, we took into account the curriculum needs of GCSE students and progressed to making a film series.

OBJECTIVES • The main goal in both years is an improvement in the language skills of the students (4 skills). • In the 1st term the thematic approach made students independent learners thus personalising their learning. • As there is a concentrated use of digital modals, it will increase their digital literacy skills. • The approach provides personally relevant contexts to use the language. • There is cross over with other mainstream subjects e.g. film studies, history. • It involves self and peer assessment.

Time scale Initial start 2012-2013 Repeated introduction to film/media studies in Arabic 20132014 Subject matter To create films and tell stories in the Arabic language using Digital media. The role of storytelling in the activity The aim was to steer away from traditional teaching methods which focus heavily on text books that come from ‘back home’ countries. Such books have little relevance to the culture and creativity of students brought up in western societies. Increasingly, many young adults are refusing to take the Arabic language further. Digital storytelling was offered as an alternative learning method and linked with mainstream subjects like History and film studies to develop not only the language skills but also enhance creativity, instil cultural awareness and critical thinking. An interesting anecdote This is  the link to what the students have chosen to say about their reflection on the use of digital storytelling: This is a version made completely spontaneously by the students without help or interference: Presenter of the good practice Fatima Khaled Peace School London NW2 7LL


Primary Languages Storybox Project with Goldsmiths PGCE Primary Course – The Languages Company – United Kingdom The Storybox project began with teaching input from the Modern Languages team during the teacher trainee’s initial teacher education. After choosing an appropriate storybook, she prepared a micro-teaching activity based on the story and practiced teaching the activity to a group of peers. Her peers gave her valuable feedback, which she used to amend the activity before including it in her scheme of work. She further trialled the activity in the Enrichment Project with a class of four-five year old children. The project required the teacher trainees to reflect on their practice and to act on feedback, and at the end of the year, they presented their Storyboxes to PGCE Secondary Languages teachers, sharing their ideas and teaching strategies. During the Goldsmiths Enrichment Project, The teacher trainee spent one day per week in the Reception class. She introduced children to the picture-book, Pop mange de toutes les couleurs (Bisinski and Sanders 2008 [2005]) and began to teach some French language based on the story. Children learned how to greet each other and introduce themselves in French. They also began to acquire some colour vocabulary through joining in with reading the story. After one reading of the picture-book and one short French session of songs and games, some four-year-olds were already attempting to use the French language, saying ‘Bonjour!’ to every person who entered the classroom or pointing to colours around the room and trying to remember the new vocabulary they had learned.


OBJECTIVES The aim was teaching modern languages (in this case, French) in primary schools by means of a storybox.

Time scale September 2013 – June 2014: 9 months During this time period the teacher trainee developed a scheme of work based on a storybook as part of a Masterslevel assignment set by the ML team at Goldsmiths College. Subject matter Teaching Modern Languages (in this case, French) in Primary schools, with a particular focus on introducing Modern Languages to the EYFS setting. The role of storytelling in the activity Storytelling was an integral element of the Modern Languages (ML) aspect of the Primary PGCE. The tutors inspired the teacher trainees to begin embedding languages in Primary classrooms through a narrative, recognising that stories were a powerful tool for developing the strands of the Primary languages framework. They could help to develop oracy and literacy skills through reading stories with the children, as well as introducing them to intercultural understanding through effective choices of storybooks. An interesting anecdote After just one French session, the teacher trainee began to see in action the ways children absorb language and begin trying to use it in their play – she would often overhear children playing in the outdoor area with ‘Pop le dinosaure’ or ‘Lili la grenouille’, and observed them saying ‘bonjour’ to each other and then continuing to speak ‘French’ using words they had made up and accents they had practised! Presenter of the good practice PGCE Primary Modern Foreign Languages Department at Goldsmiths, University of London, Lewisham Way, New Cross, London, SE14 6NW

Emerging Patterns Although we do not have enough examples to construct a defining framework, we do have enough data to discuss some emerging patterns concerning target audience, the link to the European key competences, the importance of a storyteller, choice of stories, evaluation and the difference between oral and digital storytelling. As the majority of good practices are using digital media in various degrees we adopt the four waves Joe Lambert (2014) has discerned describing the evolution of the Centre for Digital storytelling: creative, literacy, methodological and ethos wave. We use these steps as a lens to reflect critically about the use of storytelling in education.

Target audiences The target audiences range from primary school (ten examples) to secondary (nine cases) and teacher training education (seven good practices). We have been able to collect two Austrian, five Belgian, one Danish, one Estonian, three Italian, two Norwegian, two Polish, two Portuguese, one Spanish, one Swedish, and two British good practices. Although we might have chosen to differentiate between national and European projects: fifty percent of all good practices are developed in European contexts: • Storytelling Festival in Primary School – UCLL – Belgium (international course) • What does the Teacher Say? – UCLL – Belgium (international week Come2Graz)) • Of Cuberdons, Belgian Waffles, Beer and Meatballs from Liege – UCLL – Belgium (Grundtvig project L2LByTe) • Is There a Moocy Way? – UCLL – Belgium (ECER conference) • Legend of the White Lady – Estonia ( Comenius School Partnership project : From Fantasy to Reality: A Voyage of Discovery.

• Under the Same Sky: My Food Is Your Food – POLIMI – Italy (international storytelling competition) • Bella, buona e solidale (Beautiful, good and responsible) – POLIMI – Italy (international storytelling competition) • Bones Don’t Lie – POLIMI – Italy(international storytelling competition) • Polish-French Dragon Hunt – Poland (bilateral project) • European Tales Day – Poland (Multilateral School Partnership Comenius) • Time Capsule –Spain (Multilateral Comenius project: Voices: The European Teacher)

Storytelling and Key Competences We asked the contributors of good practices to link their storytelling teaching to the European key competences and we got the following results: cultural awareness and expression (11), digital competence (11), communication in mother tongues (10), communication in foreign languages (9), learning to learn (8), social and civic competences (6), sense of initiative and entrepreneurship (4) and mathematical competence and basic competences in science and technology (1). We have to say that not every contributor linked their goals to the key competences in particular. They described their goals in their own field of expertise or merely enumerated some key competences. They certainly did not explain it as thoroughly as this Austrian French teacher did reflecting on the learning trajectory of Spielstadt (p. 52). Furthermore quite a few teachers stressed the energy, the enthusiasm, the imagination and creativity of their students taking all kinds of action to create a story. Unfortunately these features were not linked to a sense of initiative and entrepreneurship. It is our hypothesis that entrepreneurship is still being defined in its narrow sense linking it predominantly to starting and running a business of your own. Some contributors (Norway and Portugal) added the


competence of being able to tell a story. For instance the Portuguese contributor of “Story House” points at the relevance of “narrative skills (sequencing, suspense, point of view, etc.)”. Similarly the Norwegian contributor of “Storytelling Theatre” refers to the teaching objectives which stipulate “that students should be able to: • • • • •

use basic techniques of storytelling explain some basics about storytelling compile a storytelling program for a specific audience facilitate a storytelling situation explain storytelling as a pedagogical method.” 54

Their colleagues, Marianne Sundal and Lise Grimnes, also question whether it is possible for all teachers and students to become storytellers. They therefore resorted in their “Storytelling School in Skedsmo” to a form of microteaching,

… a type of “flashlight education” related to the story. It means that (…) the teachers should look through the subject material, and learn to “spot” storytelling material in texts they have to convey. It can be character description (Napoleon), or just a picture or a scene (when Semmelweis understands the importance of washing hands). Then we work on this exact detail to make it come alive so that it can be merged into teacher education as it already is. By working in this way, all teachers can use the ideas and methods related to the art of storytelling, without it being too time consuming. 55

Oral or digital storytelling? We distinguished between oral and digital storytelling using Lambert’s definition of digital storytelling as interweaving “different media to support the art of storytelling” (2006). Contrary to our expectations we gathered more good practices 82

54 55

of digital storytelling either to create or to share the stories. Of the twenty-two stories eight used oral storytelling in class using no technical support: • Of Storydragons, Silvernoses and Bookworms - PHSt – Austria • Storytelling Festival in Primary School – KHLim – Belgium • Storytelling Theater”, Halden upper secondary school – Norway • Storytelling School in Skedsmo, with Marianne Sundal and Lise Grimnes – Norway • Story House (Casa das Histórias) – Chapitô in a partnership with the Ministry of Justice Institute for Social Reinsertion – Portugal • The Collection Bag - Portugal • Dragons and monsters –Sweden • Primary Languages Storybox Project with Goldsmiths PGCE Primary Course The Language Company – UK Fourteen opted for digital storytelling using PowerPoint, MovieMaker, audacity, apps and digital platforms to create and share; • Spielstadt – Jeuville – Playcity – Austria • Making Digital Stories with MS PowerPoint or MS Movie Maker – UCLL – Belgium • What Does the Teacher Say? – UCLL – Belgium • Of Cuberdons, Belgian Waffles, Beer and Meatballs from Liege – UCLL – Belgium • Is There a Moocy Way? – UCLL – Belgium • Researched and Imaginary Story on Longitude - Denmark • Legend of the White Lady – Estonia. • Under the Same Sky: My Food is your Food – POLIMI – Italy • Bella, buona e solidale (Beautiful, good and responsible) – POLIMI – Italy • Bones Don’t Lie – POLIMI – Italy • Polish-French Dragon Hunt – Poland • European Tales Day – Poland • Time Capsule - Spain • Multi Lingual Digital Story telling – Peace School London United Kingdom

This choice also seems to influence the didactical approach as a whole where oral storytelling classes prefer to work with professional storytellers starting from existing stories such as folktales, legends, myths and children’s books whereas digital storytelling environments invite students to create their own stories. The teacher is a facilitator or co-storyteller. In oral storytelling the children perform for a live audience whereas in digital good practices stories can be shared over time and space. There is also a strong correlation between digital storytelling and European-based education as ten out of the eleven European embedded projects have chosen for digital storytelling.

Four Phases in Digital Storytelling Lambert (2014) distinguishes four phases in the development of the centre for digital storytelling: the creative, the literacy, the methodological and the ethos wave. During the creative episode they tinkered with new media to create family movies, reach out to new audiences, awaken new emotions, create new meanings. There is no method involved here. Fun and creativity were the main purposes. Next they started to introduce digital storytelling in the curriculum engaging students into seeing their own stories in different ways through multimodal thinking and producing: the literacy wave. Students are taught how to create digital stories. After some years the focus of digital storytelling shifted to the facilitation model creating collaborative storytelling platforms, using social media and communities with its facilitators: the methodological wave. Finally they started exploring digital storytelling as a means of giving voice to the silent, creating mindful awareness, allowing human beings to share “certain aspects of woundedness” and thus to become a survivor: the ethos wave. Looking at the digital storytelling good practices most of them belong to two categories. Some focus on having fun and this creative category could be linked to the maker culture, do-it-

yourself students, bring-your-own device and learning-bydoing: • Spielstadt – Jeuville – Playcity – Austria • Making Digital Stories with MS PowerPoint or MS Movie Maker – UCLL – Belgium • Of Cuberdons, Belgian Waffles, Beer and meatballs from Liege – UCLL – Belgium • Legend of the White Lady – Estonia. • Bella, buona e solidale (Beautiful, good and responsible) – POLIMI – Italy • Polish-French Dragon Hunt – Poland • European Tales Day – Poland Others try and unearth silent stories. Through communities and platforms they try to make heard teacher narratives, compare Ethiopian with Italian traditions, motivate bored students to find their own narrative, connect Arab students to modern Arabic stories. • • • •

What Does the Teacher Say? – UCLL – Belgium Is There a Moocy Way? – UCLL – Belgium Researched and Imaginary Story on Longitude - Denmark Under the Same Sky: My Food Is your Food – POLIMI – Italy • Bones Don’t Lie – POLIMI – Italy • Time Capsule - Spain • Multi Lingual Digital Storytelling – Peace School London United Kingdom So far nobody has indicated there is a need for students to learn how to create digital stories similar to the Norwegian and Portuguese oral storytellers. Secondly, although the facilitation model is used by the teacher-facilitators themselves nobody seems to find it necessary for their students to know more about creating story platforms. Given the high correlation between digital storytelling and connecting in European contexts this is even more puzzling.


Outcomes of Storytelling as a Didactic Tool Barrett (2006) defines six desired outcomes or research questions we should address if digital storytelling is to be accepted as a didactic tool: it enhances student learning, student motivation, student engagement. On top of that

digital storytelling should be more effective than paper-based reflection, should develop technology skills, should benefit all learners in all schools. We have used these criteria to evaluate the impact of both digital and oral storytelling looking into the teacher’s reflections on benefits, impact, strengths and weaknesses in the collection of good practices.


Oral storytelling

Digital storytelling

Enhances student learning

- Of Storydragons: experience themselves as creators and audience; teamwork in creative process, sharing own ideas, communication and presentation skills, artistic expression as “food for the soul” and storytelling as meaning making.

- Playcity: 21st century key competences especially languages; almost every topic may be implanted in the play.

- Storytelling Festival: They grew in many competences without realizing it: they learned in a playful way. Many ways of learning were used. Storytelling is a different way of teaching. Pupils will understand better and enjoy more. Storytelling is a good way of conveying values and theories. Storytelling is ideal for language learning, but it can also be used for other subjects, e.g. economics and should be used much more in secondary education (e.g. set a scene, play a famous person …). By exchanging ideas and getting advice, we became better storytellers. We learned to present ourselves in front of an audience. The use of repetition and rhyme really helps the concentration.

- Making Digital Stories: The children can watch and listen to the story on their own, without the help of the teacher (student). The children can listen to the story several times, so their language development is stimulated. - Of Cuberdons: The teacher trainees were surprised to find out that all competences were improved: listening, writing, reading, speaking, conversing. Their intercultural awareness was increased as they learnt a lot about other cultures just to be able to decide which products are typical for our culture. - MOOCy: I was able to understand my learning experience. I enjoyed the flow experience.

- Storytelling Theatre: the students discover “how easy” it is to learn a text that they do not memorize.

- White Lady: improvement of the students attentiveness, dialogue and expression. developing children’s knowledge about language and language learning strategies; developing creativity; improving collaborative skills, team work.

- Story House: Visible improvement in terms of social and communication skills.

- Under the Same Sky: Improved understanding and acceptance of different cultures ,Group-work

- Collection Bag: improvement of the students attentiveness, dialogue and expression, general improvement in behaviour.

- Bones: Enhanced motivation towards school’s activities. Communication skills. Cognitive benefits (improved understanding of the subject at stake).

- Storybox: The nature of the Masters-level assignment enabled me to make connections between learning theories and practice, and gave me a deeper understanding of pedagogy. Discovering that young children, even those learning English as an additional language, are capable of adding other languages to their repertoire, and that they are excited to do so! Observing how children began to develop their intercultural understanding through exposure to aspects of another culture and another language, as they asked questions about what sort of people spoke French, why we didn’t speak it in England and ‘what other languages are in the world?’

- Dragon Hunt: the students remembered the language memorized. They learned how to work in a team. - European Tales Day: Storytelling is a good way of conveying values. Storytelling is an excellent tool to work with in primary school on the cross-curricular level. Students became acquainted with international folktales They improved their English They were interested in general information and culture of partner schools. They learned to be responsible for a task given. They learned to work in a team. They improved receptive and productive skills in English. - Time Capsule: self-knowledge, self-esteem, they know more about other cultures in Europe, they improved their English.


- Multilingual Digital Storytelling: Creativity, improvement of 4 skills, improvement in collaborative skills, intercultural awareness; broader vocabulary (learning film terms in Arabic); Using the language in a real context. Peer assessment and positive critiquing.


Oral storytelling

Digital storytelling

Enhances student motivation

- Storytelling Festival: we want to use storytelling in the whole teaching process.

- Playcity: considerably increased willingness to communicate; due to the playful form of learning factual knowledge is appropriated with more pleasure

- Storybox: The early stages of the Storybox project in the EYFS were so encouraging that the EYFS Coordinator of the school has given me permission to introduce the project to my class when I take up a role as Reception teacher in September 2014. The research and the practice showed that children are capable of learning and enjoying new languages, even if it is their third or fourth language. In this EYFS setting, over 90% of children spoke Bengali as their first language and English as an additional language. This could make a positive impact on government policy, encouraging policymakers to think about introducing languages at an earlier age. At the moment, the UK government requires only that children in Key Stage 2, aged seven to eleven years, are taught a modern foreign language. Personally, I enjoyed the project so much and found it to be such a valuable teaching and learning tool that I intend to create more Storyboxes and will encourage teachers higher up the school to do so as well Enhances student engagement

- White Lady: inspiring children to acquire new knowledge about the local history and developing understanding about local history. - Dragon Hunt: They were motivated to learn English. They expressed the eagerness of repeating a similar experience in the future, They were proud of themselves. - European Tales Day: Students expressed the eagerness of repeating a similar experience in the future, They were proud of themselves as the workload was high and they managed to complete it.

- Of Storydragons: enthused students.

- What Does the Teacher Say? Silence is broken.

- Storytelling Festival: As a teacher, we can create any atmosphere we want in the classrooms by means of stories.

- Of Cuberdons: It increases the energy level as desperation increases your sense of humour.

- Storytelling Festival: enjoyed meeting students, listening to stories, answering questions in English and expressing themselves; highly involved.

- Under the Same Sky: involvement

- Story House: the engagement of the young in the activities and the learning process involved.

- Bella: high level of involvement; the teacher says this was acknowledged as “one of the best experiences” by the students as well as by their parents. - The second strength lies in group-work, a kind of organisation in which “students give their best”. - Bones: the power of engagement. - Dragon Hunt: They enjoyed this way of learning

More effective than paperbased reflection

- Storybox: Having the opportunity to evaluate my own and my peers’ ideas and strategies, and to reflect on what makes effective teaching and learning and how stories can contribute to this

- What Does the Teacher Say? All students created a reflection and two of them created a filmic dialogue. - Of Cuberdons: It caused us to rethink the role of the teacher and to redefine “learning”. - Multilingual Digital Storytelling: Assessment of target language in relation to the National Curriculum (every student became aware of their level and how to improve)



Oral storytelling

Digital storytelling

Builds technology skills


- Making Digital Stories: students didn’t know all the different things you can do with MS PowerPoint. - Of Cuberdons: They joked they had to learn a second language as well: they moved from digitally sceptic to digitally able teachers. - MOOCy: Nobody had learnt through a MOOC, yet. So I ended up explaining what MOOCs are. NOBODY shared their three wishes. - White Lady: Digital competence by using ICT and producing PowerPoint presentation. - Bones: Media literacy skills and technical skills. - Time Capsule: improved ICT skills. - Multilingual Digital Storytelling: Improved digital literacy skills in relation to use of digital cameras, editing software and other web 2.0 tools to create, edit and evaluate films.

Benefits all learners and schools

- Of Storydragons: “Also children who are not gifted in language or do not have German as a mother tongue could get access to the stories and fairy tales by acting them out and listening to others doing so.” - Story House: the quality of human relationships that sometimes is created in the continuity of the work or the creative/artistic engagement of some individuals. The work of the facilitator/storyteller is framed in a broad project with other activities and he is supported by a well-prepared team of specialists. The good relation between the promoter of the project, Chapitô, and the Institute of Social Reinsertion – Justice Ministry, responsible for the facilities of the Educational Centre and for the legal processes of the institutionalised young men. - Collection Bag: the library team engagement, the coordination with some of the teachers, the work in continuity that establishes relationships with the students, teacher and the community, essential to the work on some strategic competences. - Storybox: Observing the impact on parents when children were picked up at the end of the first day and excitedly told their carers they had been learning French. This encouraged discussion of other languages amongst some parents, who tried to remember what French words they had learned at school, and who began talking to their children about modern languages. This was a promising development and could be a valuable way to tap into the school’s Parent Partnership programme – perhaps through parent/child language lessons, or parents as occasional co-tutors.


- Playcity: a strong lasting identification with the personal role/persona, in some cases even after school leaving, positive social effects inside the learning group, everybody likes to communicate with everybody (not only with good friends); positive effect on the teacher-student relationship because of the co-operative aspects of the setting. - Making Digital Stories: the teacher (student) can make stories that appeal to individual children/class. - Of Cuberdons: It’s an exercise which fosters group cohesion as they need to rely on each other to co-create the story, to use digital media and to organize the performance. - Longitude: every student can be challenged at their own level and where they need to be challenged. We engaged in team-teaching. At the very beginning not all teachers were included. If there was a question about weather we then invited the geography teacher. - Under the Same Sky: Inclusion - Dragon Hunt: Even reluctant students took part in the performance. - Time Capsule: blog for families to follow, linked to the school’s website, information was sent to the town hall - Multilingual Digital Storytelling: Students taking the lead and teacher becoming a guide.

From this overview it is clear that there is no difference between oral and digital storytelling (with the obvious exception of digital skills) in the teacher’s appreciation of storytelling as a didactic tool. As to the weaknesses six teachers indicate they would have liked more time. Other weaknesses mentioned are a lack of prior knowledge (about ICT (2), English (2), folktales(1)), of support (parents (1), teachers(2)), of assessment (2) and difficulty with class management (2). Overall we can conclude that these teachers made a case for storytelling as a didactic tool. Storytelling not only improves learner’s levels of the 21st century key competences, but also creates an engaging and motivating environment of deep learning. On top of that storytelling also fosters a climate of inclusive education as twelve good practices show how storytelling involves all students and even their parents: • Of Storydragons, Silvernoses and Bookworms - PHSt – Austria • Story House (Casa das Histórias) – Chapitô in a partnership with the Ministry of Justice Institute for Social Reinsertion – Portugal • The Collection Bag - Portugal • Primary Languages Storybox Project with Goldsmiths PGCE Primary Course The Language Company – UK • Spielstadt – Jeuville – Playcity – Austria • Making Digital Stories with MS PowerPoint or MS Movie Maker – UCLL – Belgium • Of Cuberdons, Belgian Waffles, Beer and Meatballs from Liege – UCLL – Belgium • Researched and Imaginary Story on Longitude - Denmark • Under the Same Sky: My Food is your Food – POLIMI – Italy • Polish-French Dragon Hunt – Poland • Time Capsule - Spain • Multi Lingual Digital Storytelling – Peace School London United Kingdom

Questions A first set of questions deals with storytelling as a didactic tool. Walter Ong (2002) has defined oral storytelling as our primary way of helping us to store, organise and communicate our knowledge. Jerome Bruner (1987) has defended both the logical-analytical as well as the narrative way as knowledge construction in an educational context. And Michel Serres has proposed narrative as a path to find the truth in educational research:

Devoted to the search for truth, we do not always reach it; if and when we arrive through analyses or equations, experiments or formal proofs, but also through experimentation, sometimes, and, when experimentation doesn’t get you there, let the story go there, if it can; if meditation fails, why not try narrative?56 Adopting Pink’s concept that constructing knowledge in the 21st century involves being able to pose questions rather than giving answers, we use his Five Whys technique to move towards the essence of the problem (Pink, 2013, p. 151). So based on the TALES curriculum research and its collection of good practices we wonder why storytelling does not account for 50 percent of the educational experience? Why do teachers hesitate to share their storytelling teaching praxis? Why do we adopt this way of storing, organising and communicating knowledge, of knowledge construction and truth-seeking in exceptional projects rather than integrated in everyday class activities? Why is it not included in teacher training departments as a way to engage, motivate learners? Why is it not included as a way to promote inclusive education? The second set of questions focuses on digital storytelling. Bolter& Grusin claim that new media arise to fill a lack, repair a fault, fulfil unkept promises. Old media as a rule fail to include the audience. Conversely older media “refashion themselves to answer the challenges of new media”. Obviously oral storytelling has a strong connection with its audience but 56 Serres, 1997, p. 165-166


teaching praxis has not. Perhaps we should ask what digital storytelling allows students to learn that traditional teaching has forgotten to do? Could it be that digital storytelling emerges as learner-driven approaches are in demand? Could it be that digital storytelling facilitates linking knowledge to individual students in idiosyncratic ways typical of personalized learning? Could it be that digital storytelling allows learners to link to knowledge, other learners and learner communities which is the core of connectivist learning? Finally, could it be that digital storytelling equips learners of the 21st century with an essential tool for open education allowing them to participate in communities of practices, open courseware and MOOCs for instance?


References Barrett, H. “Researching and Evaluating Digital Storytelling as a Deep Learning Tool”. 2006. Retrieved from http:// Bolter, J.; Grusin, R. Remediation. Understanding New Media. Cambridge: MIT, 2000. Bruner, J. “Life as Narrative”. Social Research, 54 (12) (pp. 11-32) 1987. Debyser, F. L’immeuble. Paris, Hachette, 1980. Lambert, J. “Digital Storytelling: Capturing Lives, Creating community”. USA: Life On The Water 2006. Lambert, J. “Looking Back to Look Forward. Digital Storytelling at a Crossroad”. Athens: International Digital Storytelling Conference 2014. Ong, W. Orality and Literacy. The Technologizing of the World. New York: Routledge, 2002. Pink, D. To Sell is Human: the Surprising Truth about Persuading, Convincing, and Influencing Others. EdingburghLondon: Canongate, 2013. Serres, M. The Troubadour of Knowledge. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1997. An earlier version of this article is published in Expanding Learning Scenarios. Eden Annual Conference 2015

Because teaching is being available ... An old man came to a saint to ask him about the mysteries of life and generously the holy man shared his wisdom. Pleased the old man went to his cell but as soon as he closed the door he realised he had forgotten what the holy man had said to him. He looked for him again and once more the saint answered his questions but as soon as he returned to his cell he realised that he had forgotten everything again. After some other attempts, ashamed he said to the holy man: - I easily forget everything you teach me and now I don’t dare to ask you anymore. Night was coming down beyond the small windows of the monastery and so the saint said to the old man: - Go for a lamp and come back to me. The old man did what he asked and came back with a burning lamp. - Please, use that one to light the other lamps in the room, as it is getting dark – asked the saint. Again, the old man did it as told and soon all the lamps in the room were burning. - Did the lamp you used to light the others suffer something because of it? Did it loose its strength and its light? Is it less shining now after helping all the others to start burning? - No – Said the old man. - So do not hesitate each time you want to ask me something. I will answer you again and again.



THE TALES PILOTS Lid King (The Languages Company, United Kingdom)


Chapter 4 - the Tales Pilots

In the beginning, listening to stories was boring, because I was not interested. But then, by listening to other people, something awoke in me and I began to be more attentive and to imagine everything that was being told‌.. Vocational Student, Portugal

A central element in the TALES project was to carry out pilot studies in the six participating countries. The idea was to develop some of the prior analysis of existing practices in both oral and digital storytelling and to test this in real contexts. In this way we hoped not only to gain more experience but also to see what worked and how some of the principles underlying a storytelling approach were affected by the limitations of actual institutions in a range of countries and situations. These pilots took place between October 2014 and June 2015 (not all simultaneously) and they each lasted between 2 and 24 hours actual contact time. This is, however, slightly misleading as it does not include planning or preparation, and in many cases the approaches being developed were also used in “normal�, that is non-pilot time. Indeed it was one objective of the pilots

to help teachers to normalise this exotic storytelling art! It follows that this small scale, but nevertheless quite concentrated, experience does not have the status of a systematic large-scale study of storytelling in education. Even so we are convinced that our pilots include some exciting examples from which others can both learn and also reflect on how to adapt what they are currently doing in different learning situations. Below you will find detailed descriptions of eight learning events, including the process of setting up and implementation (the all-important HOW?), and the outcomes of each project. Often these outcomes were in the form of an actual product - an online digital story, a performance, a written poem or piece of reflective writing or speech. Equally important, however, was the effect of this process on the learners, (and indeed the teachers) - the discovery of new abilities, in some cases new worlds and new insights about themselves and their fellows. In this respect the words of the participants are of particular relevance. These may also be seen and heard on the video reports of each project uploaded on the TALES website.


What we Hoped to Learn Our general approach - adapted for each context - was one of action research involving story-tellers, teachers (and sometimes student teachers), learners and researchers. In each case we had a key question (sometimes more than one) which was articulated with the help of the participants - for example “Can Fairy Stories speak to typical teenagers?” (Austria) “How is it possible to use a story in another language?” (UK) or “Can digital storytelling be used by teachers who are not digital natives?” (Belgium). A plan of work - process and outcomes - was then developed in the light of the central question or questions and this led to a process of feedback, evaluation and refinement. The possible questions and answers about the educational use of storytelling are of course many and varied. In Chapter 2 (page 23) we list 16 educational benefits for Oral Storytelling alone. To this must be added the so-called “21st Century” skills which are central to the process of digital story making and telling - technology and visual literacy and creativity in particular. In pedagogical terms, in order to answer to the question “WHY STORIES?” our starting point could be one of the following: • To inspire and enthuse learners; • To help them to memorise and remember; • To enable them to create - whether by speaking, writing or digitally; • To guide them towards specific areas of knowledge; • To enable participation and sharing and mutual respect; • For both learners and teachers to understand more about themselves; • For a greater understanding of our and other societies.

All of these aims are confronted in the TALES projects. One planning tool that we found useful here was the list of 8 European Key Competences57. These were cross referenced to the projects as follows. It is of course to be expected that storytelling would support the development of Communication Skills in the Mother Tongue, and also that Cultural Awareness and Expression and Learning to Learn are such a constant feature of the pilots. It is also no surprise - given the additional focus on digital storytelling - that digital competence was an aspect of half of the projects. Less obvious perhaps is the role attributed to foreign language communication, scientific competence and initiative and entrepreneurship. This could suggest that, in Doris Lessing’s words58, it is indeed the case that:

“All wisdom is in our stories and songs” And as in the best of stories, there were also lessons that we did not expect. There were insights from learners and new directions to places we had not imagined at the outset. There were also those things that cannot be measured in terms of competence - conflicts and resolutions and sadness and laughter. We hope that you will be able to share some of these experiences, and more importantly to discover some for yourselves on your own journeys.


92 =EN 58 Author Interview: Doris Lessing on The Grandmothers 060530112&displayType=bookinterview







communication in the mother tongue, which is the ability to express and interp ret concepts, thoughts, feelings, facts and opinions in both oral and written form (listening, speaking, reading and writing) and to interact linguistically in an appropriate and creative way in a full range of societal and cultural contexts;






communication in foreign languages, which involves, in addition to the main skill dimensions of communication in the mother tongue, mediation and intercultural understanding. The level of proficiency depends on several factors and the capacity for listening, speaking, reading and writing;




Belgium (UCLL)

Belgium (AB)





mathematical competence and basic competences in science and technology. Mathematical competence is the ability to develop and apply mathematical thinking in order to solve a range of problems in everyday situations, with the emphasis being placed on process, activity and knowledge. Basic competences in science and technology refer to the mastery, use and application of knowledge and methodologies that explain the natural world. These involve an understanding of the changes caused by human activity and the responsibility of each individual as a citizen; digital competence involves the confident and critical use of information society technology (IST) and thus basic skills in information and communication technology (ICT); learning to learn is related to learning, the ability to pursue and organise one’s own learning, either individually or in groups, in accordance with one’s own needs, and awareness of methods and opportunities;



social and civic competences. Social competence refers to personal, interpersonal and intercultural competence and all forms of behaviour that equip individuals to participate in an effective and constructive way in social and working life. It is linked to personal and social well-being. An understanding of codes of conduct and customs in the different environments in which individuals operate is essential. Civic competence, and particularly knowledge of social and political concepts and structures (democracy, justice, equality, citizenship and civil rights), equips individuals to engage in active and democratic participation;











sense of initiative and entrepreneurship is the ability to turn ideas into action. It involves creativity, innovation and risk-taking, as well as the ability to plan and manage projects in order to achieve objectives. The individual is aware of the context of his/her work and is able to seize opportunities that arise. It is the foundation for acquiring more specific skills and knowledge needed by those establishing or contributing to social or commercial activity. This should include awareness of ethical values and promote good governance; cultural awareness and expression, which involves appreciation of the importance of the creative expression of ideas, experiences and emotions in a range of media (music, performing arts, literature and the visual arts).














Overview of the Pilots As we have suggested, the pilots were of various kinds. One of the most obvious distinctions was that between oral and digital stories. There were some pilots involving only oral storytelling but even these were varied in terms of inputs and expectations, some based on very old traditions and some more contemporary or indeed mixed. Then there were digital stories involving a different kind of participation and creation from the learners. One of our favourite discussions was about the connections and also the differences between the oral and the digital approach. What were the common factors listening? creating? sharing? and where were the differences - performance? support? timescale? Indeed some of our mainly oral pilots (Austria, Portugal) included elements of both genres, while our digital story makers (Belgium) began with a traditional story. It is a rich discussion and one which you might continue when you have had a chance to learn more about our pilots. The pilots also took place in a range of contexts - primary schools of different kinds, secondary schools, further and higher education (especially teacher education) and learning in the community - and also involved learners of different ages (from 8 to 20, or older if we include the teachers and the Portuguese grandmothers). They also had different objectives as we have already noticed. These different contexts, objectives and outcomes are very simply summarised here. We hope therefore that you will discover an example which particularly relates to your own experience and needs. We hope also that you will look beyond that to areas outside your immediate preoccupations, since there too we believe there is truth to be found. For, despite the range and despite the differences we believe that there are common threads - themes, characteristics, and tales indeed which emerge. Before discussing them, however, it is probably best that you actually taste the orange, and as best you can immerse yourself in the real experiences of the TALES pilots. 94


Pilot 1

(Pilot 2)

Target group




Primary (6-11)




Primary (2-12)


Oral (artistic research ; ST as endusers)

Youth (16-18)



Higher secondary



12 years old




Belgium (KHLIM)


Belgium (AB)



Primary / lower & higher secondary

Primary (6-8)

Special needs included ?

Social context (inner city, suburban, small town, rural)

Competences tackled

Yes (in 1 pilot)

- Communication in the mother tongue - Digital competence - Learning to learn - Cultural awareness and expression


- Communication in the mother tongue - Learning to learn - Social and civic competences


- Communication in the mother tongue - Learning to learn - Social and civic competences - Sense of initiative and entrepreneurship - Cultural awareness and expression


Small town

- Mother Tongue : Communication skills (speaking, listening, reading and writing); - cultural awareness; - social competences; - intergenerational relationship; - creativity and critical thinking


Inner city, middle-sized town,

Mother Tongue (communication, reading, listening, writing, telling) Social :Raising self-esteem and self-expression skills Cultural awareness and cultural expression Digital : video, photos…


Large inner city school; Socially mixed and multilingual intake; part of a Federation of schools (age 3-18); Academy status (i.e. funded directly by Education Department and not through local authority and having more freedom on curriculum etc than traditional state schools). Specialism in Music.

-Communication in foreign language: (Oracy and Literacy) -learning to learn (strategies to aid understaning, memorisation and communication) -intercultural understanding -creative expression (of ideas, experiences and emotions in a range of media, e.g. music, performing arts, literature and the visual arts) - social competences (intercultural & interpersonal)


Primary school ‘Het Paleis’ is an urban catholic school with approximately 500 pupils (preprimary and primary). It is a white, monolingual school with a state of the art computerclass and whiteboards in every classroom.

-communication in the mother tongue -communication in foreign languages -mathematical competence and basic competences in science and technology -digital competence -learning to learn -social and civic competences -sense of initiative and entrepreneurship -cultural awareness and expression


“De Appeltuin” is a small scale (pre)primary school in the center of Leuven. It is a Freinet School: Freinet pedagogy is an original pedagogy based on the free expression of children.

- cultural awareness - social competences - communication in foreign language (& mother tongue) - learning to learn


The Pilots in Detail Oral Storytelling in the Primary School Belgium - Stories as a Source of Discussion, Creation and Self-awareness

This pilot involved a storyteller supporting a teacher in the classroom. Applying the Freinet methodology a number of teaching sessions were planned involving stories and/or storytelling competences. Two topics were chosen from the existing school curriculum for the relevant year. 1. Fear of my Bedroom 2. Spring – Nature

TOPIC 1 - Fear of my Bedroom

This topic related to children’s feelings, including difficult ones, and to ways of articulating those feelings. What We Did Preparation The lessons began with an Introduction by the storyteller: a scary tale from the north of Italy:

Cattarinetta Context

A Freinet School in Leuven. Freinet pedagogy is an original pedagogy developed by Freinet, based on the free expression of children. Participants

A professional storyteller from VZW Schobbejak. Classroom teachers. Children in first grade (6-8). Timescale

January to April 2015. After preparation, each topic took 6 days of which 2 half days with the storyteller.


Once upon a time there was a mother who had a little daughter named Cattarinetta. One day she wanted to bake a cake and so she sent the girl to borrow a pan from her aunt, who was a wicked witch. The aunt gave the pan to the girl, saying, “Don’t forget to bring me a piece of cake.” The cake was baked, and as soon as it was done the mother cut off a piece and put it in the pan, which the girl was to take back to the aunt. The delicious piece of cake tempted the girl, and as she walked along she pinched off one bite after the other and ate it, until finally there was nothing left in the pan. She was terrified, but she thought of a trick that would help her. She picked up a cow pie from the path and laid it in the pan so that it looked like a piece of cake with brown crust. “Did you bring me the pan and a piece of cake?” asked the aunt as Cattarinetta arrived.

“Yes,” said the girl, then she set the pan down and ran away hurriedly. Cattarinetta arrived back home, and when night fell she went to bed. Then suddenly she heard her aunt’s voice calling, “Cattarinetta, I am coming. I am already at your front door!” The girl slid further down into her bed, but the voice called out in short intervals again and again: “Cattarinetta, I am coming. I am already on the stairway!” “Cattarinetta, I am coming. I am already just outside your door!” “Cattarinetta, I am coming. I am already beside your bed!” And slurp! She swallowed up the girl.

Assignment 2: Scared of my bedroom! The teacher tells a scary story about her own bedroom. To prepare for this she had a short storytelling coaching during the preparatory phase. The children listen and are invited to talk about themselves in a similar situation. • Do they have scary stories? • What does a scary bedroom look like?

The children connect with the main character and feel the tension and the fear. It is someone else’s fear and someone else’s bedroom, but they still identify with the character and the situation. Then the children talk about what they “saw” in their imagination. This is stimulated by group discussion: • What was funny? • Were the pancakes tasty? • Were you also scared? When? • Which cuddly toys do you have? How many?

Assignments Assignment 1: Tell us about your favourite pancake. The storyteller talks about the senses: • What can you see? • What can you smell? • What can you taste? • What can you hear? • What can you feel? The children talk about the images and the feelings they experienced during the storytelling.

After telling their stories the children draw what they talked about and the images that they saw. They fold a piece of paper in two and on one side they draw a scary bedroom, on the other side their “happy room” - the ideal bedroom, the bedroom that makes them feel good. The children then talk about their drawings and also about their fears. The drawings are displayed on the class wall.


How we arranged the class There were four distinct phases to the activity with an appropriate set up for each one: 1. Introduction + discussion: group; all together sitting in a circle (+ teacher and storyteller). 2. Discussion about the teacher’s story and their own story: 2 groups. 3. Drawing: tables spread in the classroom; individual exercise with teacher and storyteller walking around and helping. 4. Talking about drawings: together sitting in a circle.

Reviewing the Process – Lessons Learned 1 Storytelling and the role of the storyteller were critical to this activity: • The storyteller was able to find and tell a suitable story; through this story the children were stimulated to participate in the session. • He helped the children to articulate their feelings and to describe the images they saw during the discussion of the story and the description of the pancake. • The teacher’s story removed barriers and made it easier for the children to imagine and share their own stories. • 2 The effects on the children were noticeable: • The children all imagined their fear and were able to articulate it, at least partially, which was the goal of the session. • By telling and listening to stories they put fear in its place. By giving it shape and working with it children have a better understanding of something that was previously present but elusive. • Remarkably all but one of the children began to draw their “scary room”. 98

3 And our main conclusion? Telling an opening story tailored to your target audience is a very powerful “connector” to enable your participants to participate in a process!! But remember: a good story is not enough. It should be well told! On the other hand a poorly told story is counterproductive.

TOPIC 2: Spring/Nature

This topic was centred on trees and the age-old relationship between trees and people. The aim was to make each child a protagonist of her or his own story. To help this process a particular technique was used, known as “Mapping”. This means that you literally draw a map of the landscape in which your story takes place, so giving you more insight into the time and space of your story.59

What We Did One Tree for Each After an introductory story about a tree - healing trees, ‘clootie’ trees, whispering trees – children are introduced to mapping. Assignment 1: Mapping The children make a map of their road to school, their route between home and school. They indicate on that map a series of landmarks: a friend’s house, a bakery, a special place ... but above all one specific tree; a tree they want to know better. Between lessons they finish the drawing/map. They then observe the tree on a regular basis and see how spring is changing it. Assignment 2: Choosing Children try to identify the species and inform their teacher. The storyteller then searches for folk tales and/or customs that relate to each of the different trees. Assignment 3: Letters to the trees The children write a personal letter and deliver it to their tree (aim: to increase the commitment between child and tree).

59 Ramsden, A. & Hollingsworth, S. The Storyteller’s Way. A sourcebook for inspired storytelling. Stroud: Hawthorn Press, 2013.

The Stories Before the class the children’s maps are displayed on the class walls. The storyteller and the teacher have divided the stories about the different trees. During the class the storyteller starts with a story. The children then talk about their map and the tree they have chosen. The teacher and storyteller tell the (folk) stories that they have found. Here are two of the storyteller’s tales. For the others you can see the TALES website: 1 The Story of the Apple of Discord: Eris, the goddess of discord, is not invited to a wedding. Yet she comes and throws an apple between three women who are chatting: Hera, Aphrodite and Athena. On the apple she wrote: “for the most beautiful”. They start quarrelling immediately and Paris has to resolve the issue. Hera promises him power, Athena wisdom and Aphrodite beauty. Paris chooses beauty and gets the most beautiful woman: Helen (But that’s another story) 2 The Story of Old Mother Misery “Vrouwtje myserie”: Everyone is stealing the beautiful pears of “Vrouwtje myserie”: and it makes her very sad. One day a traveller asks her if he may eat a pear. She agrees and as a reward she can make a wish: anyone who climbs the tree will never get out unless she authorizes him. One day Death comes to take her away and she offers him a pear. He climbs into the tree and gets stuck. She will only let him go if he promises that he will never take her away. And that’s why there will always be misery in this world! The children are then given a customised workshop: How to make a story? • Who is the hero? Are there other characters? • Where does the story take place? • When? • What is the problem? (every story has a problem) • How does it end?


Outside class the children continue the relationship with their trees, observing them regularly and this leads to: Assignment 4: - Making stories

Reviewing the Process – Lessons Learned 1 The role of the storyteller and stories was again central • The Storyteller introduced the topic with a story about a tree and the relationship between trees and people. • He was able to search for folk tales and/or customs that relate to each of the different trees and to tell some of them. • The topic ended with a story. 2 Personalisation can be a great strength. Linking the story told during the lesson with the story of each individual child intensified the involvement of the children with the classroom activities, which had a very positive impact on the learning activities and also on the learning. 3 Both children and teacher achieved a great deal. • The children: • Built up a personal relationship with a tree. • Discovered a folktale about it • Designed a map (new skills) • Wrote a booklet with a “new” story Thanks to this relationship they can now observe nature more intensely. . The Teacher has had great opportunities and reference points for teaching her pupils new things:

The children write a story about their own tree: writing, illustrating and making a booklet.

Storytelling by the Children The topic is concluded by both children and storyteller.


• The children present their booklet and tell their story. • The storyteller tells a farewell story.

Through this project I learned how important stories are for children. We all use stories in our daily practice, often to catch children’s’ attention. But it can be much more than just an “attention grabber”! Subject matters have a deeper impact and a long-lasting effect when we see/present them as a story. What I’ve learned is that stories can also be used in less obvious cases. Even within a math’s lesson, stories may be useful. We often work on writing stories in class. It was a good refresher for the children to see to what stories they can get, how to build a story. Thanks for the suggested techniques! An, teacher

4 As regarding the competence acquisition we could notice the following learning outcomes. • Communication in the mother tongue / Communication in a foreign language: The children learned to better express themselves in the mother tongue (or for some of some of them in a foreign language); to better express their feelings about the stories/the situations described; to better express their fear(s) in drawings and words. • Learning to learn and Basic competences in science and technology: The children learned to search information about a subject (their tree); to observe nature and see its evolution (their tree over the seasons); to draw a map (road to school). • Cultural (awareness and) expression and Creativity: The children learned to create - write and illustrate - their own story; to visualise/make visible abstract things (their fears, the road from their home to school); to apply rules and techniques for making a story; to tell, to perform. • Social and civic competences: The children learned to listen to each other’s stories; to respect each other and each other’s cultural background; to express themselves in front of a group; to experience nature (their tree) as a “human being” and so to show respect for/feel concerned with it; to give their fear a shape and a place; to share their fears with the others and experiencing that everybody knows fear (adults included); to connect with nature (their tree) through the stories/legends told, their research, the “personal message” written to their tree. 5 A big lesson for us all was that stories are not only about feelings. They can be used also in less obvious learning situations. Even in Maths and Science stories may be helpful.


Estonia - A Traditional Story as a Basis for Discussion and Sharing Ideas CONTEXT

An in-service training course for practising teachers offered by Tallinn University Haapsalu College leading to work in local schools. PARTICIPANTS

A professional storyteller. University staff; primary teachers and pupils (7-8 and 10-12). TIMESCALE

January – June 2015 (not including a preparatory seminar on storytelling) involving 6 hours preparation and training, 2 hours classwork and 6 hours evaluation. The Estonian TALES project was designed to enable teachers to act as storytellers in a classroom setting, using storytelling as a didactic tool, with a particular emphasis on sharing ideas and feelings and developing creativity.

What We Did The classroom activities were organized over the course of a 3-stage teacher training module by the University. Preparation and set up The first (preparatory) seminar focused on how to use storytelling in the classroom. The participants discussed and learned how to tell a story, how to activate the class and practised different methods in pairs and in groups. This session was led by a well-known Estonian storyteller. The teachers were also introduced to the TALES project and the idea of pilot. Five months later the same group of teachers met again to share their experiences of using storytelling in class. They also decided on a suitable story, and two teachers agreed to use the story with two different age groups – 7-8 and 10-12. One of the teachers was a 1st grade teacher (students 7-8 year old) and another teacher was teaching students aged 10-12.

The Story Andry Ervald “Dream train” in Estonian “Unenäorong” The story is written by an Estonian author and it is about a train, that didn`t want to go along the track, because it was boring. The train decided to stop moving; at first the passengers were very angry, but later they fell asleep and had different dreams. A very fat man saw that he was thin again, a lazy schoolboy saw that he was getting good marks. The train saw all these different dreams, happy ones, sad ones, weird ones. Finally people woke up and they felt happy and each one of them changed in some way; the very fat man bought only 3 cakes instead of 12, the lazy schoolboy read his textbook and got a better mark. Life was much better in this town and now everybody wished to travel by the dream train.


A number of objectives were established for the students.

These were: • To learn to reflect about themselves and their lives; • To develop communication skills; • To practice study skills (listening, storytelling, writing); These are linked to the European Key Competences, in particular Communication in the mother tongue, learning to learn and social competences (see p.xx overview competences covered)

Listening to the story! Post listening activities 1) For 7-8 year olds: • Short discussion about dreams – what dreams do people have, what do you dream about? • Children draw pictures to retell the story! • Children draw their own dreams. 2) For 10-12 year olds: • Discussion: What do you have to do, to make your dreams come true? • Children use pictures or Power Point presentation to retell the story! • Children write about their dreams.

Reviewing the Process – Lessons Learned By the end of the lesson the children had produced: • 10 pictures about their dreams (7/8 year olds); • 12 stories about their dreams (10-12 year olds). Classroom Activities These were divided into Pre-listening activities, Listening and Post-listening activities. Pre listening 1) For 7-8 year olds: • The teacher asks some questions about trains and travelling by train (where did you go, with whom did you travel etc.). • The class listens to a song about a train and act out moving like a train. 2) For 10-12 year olds: • Teachers give students an old-style printed train ticket and encourage students to find out why this ticket is different from modern day ones. • Discussion: What do you dream about? Have your dreams ever come true?

All of the pupils said something and shared their thoughts, and most of them “got” the main message – that it is important to take time out and think about one`s life. The pupils were also motivated to tell stories. They recognized storytelling to be an authentic activity, and after listening they were able to retell the stories. They particularly liked: • Listening to the story. • Talking about their dreams and listening to others. • Retelling the story using pictures, because the characters and the pictures were funny. The younger children liked drawing, but the older ones found it difficult to write about their dreams. The teachers also gained experience using storytelling as didactic tool. They reported that it was not such a difficult thing to do and that although they had tried things before they had not been really systematic. They were sure that they


had become better educators by being able to tell a story effectively. Some specific points to note: • Finding a suitable story was the most difficult, but through collaboration with the storyteller the problem was solved. • Stories went straight to the heart and the students were emotionally involved; it helped to create a positive attitude toward the learning process. • One of teachers did not feel confident as a storyteller, and so she read part of the story. But even she agreed that telling is more effective than reading. Without the book the teller looks directly into the eyes of the audience and is free to use gestures and body movements to enhance the telling and help children understand the story better. • Storytelling improved the students’ vocabulary, listening and speaking skills.


And a final thought: In Estonia students cannot and do not want to read books and different texts. Some have asked whether oral storytelling will help or hinder this problem. After the experience in Estonia we believe that in fact oral storytelling actually helps to alleviate the problem, because it helps learners to listen and re-tell the story, so developing their vocabulary, and understanding of meanings. Switching from listening to reading is then a logical and smooth transition for students; listening and telling can thus be a perfect basis for developing an interest in books and reading.

United Kingdom - Foreign Language Stories Stimulating Learning and Performance CONTEXT

A large state inner city primary school with a multilingual population working with a teacher education department (Goldsmiths) and student teachers. PARTICIPANTS

A professional storyteller. Teacher trainers. Teachers. Trainee teachers. 30 primary children (8-9) learning German. TIMESCALE

February – June 2015 (not including planning in the autumn) 2 x 4 hour training sessions with trainees and teachers; in-school session (X) with Storyteller; X lessons of X hours.

The specificity of this pilot was that it was specifically designed to improve foreign language competence – in this case German. In addition it was aimed at 2 target groups: student teachers of foreign languages and a class of 8/9 year old primary children.

• The student teachers on a postgraduate one-year Initial Teacher Education course for Primary education received input by the professional storyteller and in collaboration with the course tutors were asked to integrate the approach and strategies in planning a story-based Scheme of Work for teaching languages in primary school. They used this during their teaching practice in partnership schools and also as a point of reference for their reflections for their final formal Masters level assignment for their foreign languages pedagogy module. • The class of thirty 8-9 year old primary school children (Year 4) is learning German as a foreign language during curriculum time.

What We Did Preparation To prepare the pilot the Tales team, in discussion with the school teachers, agreed the context-specific objectives for the pilot school. These were derived from the European Key Competences (see p xx) and were also in line with the national Programme of study and the school’s existing monitoring of skills, attitudes and impact. The following specific objectives were agreed (and monitored) for the pilot: To develop the children’s ability to 1. Listen attentively to spoken language and show understanding by joining in and responding. 2. Present ideas and information orally to a range of audiences. 3. Appreciate stories, songs, poems and rhymes in the language. 4. Read carefully and show understanding of words, phrases and simple writing. 5. Write words from memory and adapt these to create new sentences, to express ideas clearly. 105

Stage 1: Input Training Day 1: Bridging oral storytelling with Modern Languages pedagogy In this first session, the storyteller used stories and techniques to allow the Goldsmiths PGCE student teachers to experience, explore, and reflect on, the advantages and potential of oral storytelling in the classroom. The students had the opportunity to observe, listen, de-construct and, re-tell a wide range of stories and to find out about the history and to experiment with story-telling tools.

and the teacher trainer planned this session together and the main approach consisted of modelling strategies for student teachers and to allow them to use and explore the techniques used by the storyteller. They then reflected on the application of the insights gained to their teaching practice. The Storyteller used the story of “Stone soup” as an example which allowed the student teachers to explore techniques and then to reflect about their application to language teaching. Some of the activities used were ways for telling and re-telling a story; use of Key Word & Key Image; Memory balls; the One Word Stone; techniques for creating new stories; cairn story exercises. The students discussed ideas for vocabulary work/ resources/scaffolding; the use of speaking frames in Target Language; ways to pre-teach vocabulary; design and use of resources; curricular links; ideas for creating new stories. In this session they also started their collaborative planning task- they mapped their ideas for a Scheme of Work based on storytelling aimed at developing children’s skills to use stories and storytelling. They planned using a template provided by the university tutors which incorporates the main aspects of 2 key national documents: • The Key Stage 2 Framework objectives ( which is a suggested planning tool for primary Languages with objectives for developing 5 strands: Oracy, Literacy, Intercultural Understanding, Language Learning Strategies and Knowledge about Language (including Grammar); • Programme of Study for primary languages (part of the New Curriculum for Primary Education in England).

Stage 2: Planning


Training Day 2: Bridging practices The focus of this session was on making the links across disciplines, namely the oral storytelling tradition, primary teaching practice, and Language Teaching pedagogy in the primary school setting. It was an opportunity for the student teachers to engage in collaborative planning. The Storyteller

The student teachers worked in groups to develop their scheme of work. As part of the Goldsmiths Primary languages approach, they designed their “Story Box” scheme using the existing template. They planned a six-week unit of work based on a story with the objective to develop pupils’ skills in the target language as well as their intercultural understanding and appreciation of stories, songs and rhymes. For each session in the unit, they made decisions and planned for the

key competences and objectives; learning outcomes; key vocabulary to be taught; teaching activities; cross-curricular links; assessment strategies; and resources. Following a session on children’s literature at the university, the student teachers who were assigned to work in the pilot school decided to use the Michael Rosen’s “We are going on a bear hunt” as a starting point to develop their Story Box unit in German. The objectives for the scheme of work were: • To be able to present the story in German to younger children. • To be able to create a booklet with written and pictorially presented information about different aspects of the story and their activities during the project. • To be able to say parts of the story from memory.

Their aim was to engage children in re-telling and teaching the story in German to the younger Year 1 class and decided to use this activity to assess Oracy. For literacy the pupil output and assessment opportunity was the story written in German using mini-books.

Stage 3: Application Before starting the Story Box Scheme of Work in the pilot school, the student teachers conducted a baseline assessment with all the children in both classes, who had been taught by the same teacher using the same scheme of

work for the two Year 4 groups. The monitoring tool, which is based on the new programme of Study in the New Curriculum for Primary schools in England, was used both as baseline assessment at the start and as summative assessment at the end of the pilot. The student teachers also carried out a pupil survey to get data about the children’s perceptions and attitudes about learning languages and to get an insight into their motivation and self- efficacy. They included questions like: What do you like most and least about your language lessons? The questionnaires were used to elicit information about the children’s confidence and their own understanding of their ability and achievement in German as a Foreign Language. A number of children from both groups were also interviewed twice (before and after the storytelling module) by the TALES team. This helped the team (class teacher, student, university tutors) get an insight into trends in the children’s preferred modes and activities when learning languages. The storytelling school-based pilot started with the storyteller leading a workshop in the school. She told the children in stories and engaged them in retelling, games and activities to exploit stories. She provided a model for the students and teachers and at the same time created a point of reference for the Scheme of Work, which the students then used with the Year 4 class. The student teachers began teaching the Scheme of Work, and produced reflexive logs. They were able to use a variety of activities and strategies developed through the methodology sessions and the storytelling workshops. On the final day of the school-based activity, the Year 4 children performed the story “Wir gehen auf Baerenjagd” – (the students’


translation/adaptation in German) to the whole cohort of Year 1 pupils. The Year 4 children then taught the Year 1 audience the story (words and actions) in German using their own minibooks with the text in German.

Reviewing the Process – Lessons Learned The outcomes were evaluated through: • Formative assessment in class by the teachers; • Assessment of children’s worksheets and story books; • Recording on video the performances and discussions of progress; • The answers of the children on the questionnaires at the beginning and end of the pilot.

the techniques to memorise poems by heart in English. • Able to see connections between English to Germanic words. In terms of feedback, the experience was overwhelmingly positive for everyone, not least the most important target audience – the children. The student teachers, who had input from the storyteller during the pilot were enthusiastic about the techniques they practised. They also used these in other lessons, not just for teaching languages. With regards to their teacher training curriculum, one student characteristically said “it is the most memorable and useful two sessions of the whole course”- and the rest of the group agreed.  The tutors found the whole project very enriching as it added to the repertoire of teaching and learning strategies in exciting and often unpredictable ways.

“I could see how the students grew in confidence through telling stories and how they developed their narrative skills in teaching across the curriculum. If anything, it showed us how much teachers need to develop this skill and how much need there is for this in teacher training curricula. Working with a professional storyteller in a mode of partnership teaching  has been an eye-opener for me as teacher educator and I realised I would like to engage more with storytelling and the application of the techniques in my own lectures.”  Tutor

The data show, that at the after the Story Box unit, the children were confident with reading and copying written words and some were able to fill gaps, with support. With regard to their literacy in German but also in English, the children in the pilot group seem to be:


• More confident lexically – for example in their knowledge about adjectives. • Better at memorising texts. The German story gave children

As for the children in the pilot, it was observed that during the filmed presentation and in their lesson  the children displayed clearly greater enjoyment for learning languages. This positivity was confirmed by their progress in literacy and oracy (as recorded in the assessment). At the end of the module and in their interviews, the children expressed their preference for listening to stories, and even more importantly, for telling stories. It was indeed noticeable that in a number of cases their attitudes had improved between February and May.

Q. “What do you think about learning German with stories, songs and rhymes?




Not much

It is fun


Makes writing easier

Stories in German are magnificent


Bit hard

Fun, we learn more German

Although perhaps we should also be warned by Zara who told us that Stores (like most things in life) are “really fun, but boring if we do it too much”. Overall, however the learning of languages seemed to become more relevant to the children in the context of the stories used and this empowered them to see themselves as teachers and storytellers. We noticed a significant growth in confidence and ownership of the learning process.

Story telling is “fun”, “good”, “boosts our confidence” “amazing – helps us learn in a fun way”, “Good - we made a book” CLASS 4


Oral Storytelling in the Secondary School Austria - Fairy Tales for Teenagers? CONTEXT

A lower secondary comprehensive school in Graz (non-selective, multicultural). The school is linked to the University College of Teacher Training. PARTICIPANTS

Storyteller. Teachers. Lecturers. Class of 24 7th grade pupils (12-13). TIMESCALE

September to November 2014 4 sessions and final performance. This pilot was aimed at young teenagers in 7th Grade whose academic achievements were relatively low compared with the parallel group. This had led to a loss of self-esteem, and the project was an attempt to challenge this by using ancient pictures of growth and making children aware of the power of stories.

What We Did Preparation We first decided with the teachers on a number of appropriate objectives. We wanted the children to: • Gain access to stories by listening; • Deepen their interest by reading stories and choosing a favourite one; • Tell their favourite stories in pairs; • Write their own stories; • Work at telling stories to a bigger audience using various techniques; • Perform in front of others. These linked to the European Key Competences, in particular those of Mother Tongue Communication (reading, listening, writing, telling), Social and Civic competences (Raising selfesteem and self-expression skills), Cultural awareness and cultural expression and Digital Competences (photography, school radio: facilitation/interviewing, working on the computer).

The learning process In all there were 4 sessions and a final performance. In addition there was a daily quarter of an hour devoted to reading and the pupils used this time for choosing and telling stories. In the first session the Storyteller tells stories. In this way the pupils gain access to storytelling by listening to stories from different cultures specially chosen for their age group. In the weeks following this first session they are asked to choose stories and to tell them to their classmates during the morning reading session. They are to choose a favourite one for the next session with the storyteller. They are also encouraged to write a story themselves, either alone or in groups.


Workshop 2. After some warming-up exercises in a mixture of group sessions (girls only and boys only; interest groups

for particular story content, acting out stories, telling stories with props …) children listen to stories and tell each other stories. They say that they learn a great deal from this and in the mid-project evaluation children say they learned a lot, that listening to stories is very enjoyable.

Session 3. The pupils learn that they are to perform in front of the parents. This leads to protests which are finally resolved through discussion. A negotiation takes place and different kinds of performances are agreed upon: Straightforward storytelling, storytelling with props and acting out a story for a primary class. The audience will be the headmistress, a group of children who are taught at home, but do their exams together with this class and a class from the neighbouring primary school. Nobody is forced to speak in public, and pupils who do not want to tell a story to “strangers” are asked to bring a story from home (there are children from 8 different nationalities in the class) and tell it to their classmates. Also one story written by some pupils will be performed. Session 4. After further preparation working in groups and supported by the teacher and storyteller we move to THE PERFORMANCE of different stories. A video is made of the performances (the children have been warned about this and in any case are used to the presence of the cameraman). Some volunteers also do an audio-report for the school radio.

Reviewing the Process - Lessons Learned According to the Storyteller, when children retold the stories that they had heard they recalled a surprising level of detail, but there was a low level of discipline when they were supposed to act out scenes. This is confirmed by the teacher who commented on how the children “listen much more attentively than expected, love the stories and remember details.”

A., a cool teenager, admits in front of the class that he loves fairy tales. His favourite fairy tale is “Daumesdick” by the Brothers Grimm and he listens to it before falling asleep. He also tells the story to the class. 111

The Storyteller also thought in retrospect that it would have been better to have concentrated more on process than on outcomes. “It is normally of great importance for me to create a space without assessment in school. Doing it again I would pay more attention to the process than to the goal. Also the perspective from outside – the camera – would be postponed to a later point in the process.”

anxieties, she would not do it again! And in terms of the Key Competences we noted the following.

The children themselves were asked about their likes and dislikes after session 2 and also before the final performance. Their responses also suggest that listening was the most popular activity (although a fair number also enjoyed telling stories, especially by the end). Performance was, however, something which made a number of children nervous. Despite these hesitations, as the project developed, the children appear to have become more committed. In the second evaluation a clear majority wanted to get better at telling and retelling stories and many wanted to hear and learn more stories. Although there were still some reluctant tellers, a number of the children were keen on performing and sharing. According to the teacher: “Surprisingly and unexpectedly, the children tell stories with confidence in front of a camera, in front of the primary class. They also listen much more attentively than expected, love the stories and remember details.” Given the starting point of this group, this may be considered a success.

Social and Civic Competence: definite progress in terms of raised self-esteem and self-expression:

Mother Tongue Communication Increased confidence in speaking up in front of others, as well as improved reading skills. More self-confidence in the negotiations about the performance. They argued and found an acceptable solution for everyone.

I was surprised and deeply touched by the attentive listening of the 13 year olds, their obvious appreciation of the stories, their capacity of retelling stories detailed and emotional after listening only once. Storyteller Cultural awareness and cultural expression: Children were amazed by the variety of stories and deeply touched by ancient wisdom. They were also asked to bring stories from their families in the first language to school. Some asked for the first time at home for stories from their own culture and it was quite an achievement to share them in class. Digital competence: The radio programme after the project where most of them for the first time conducted interviews, gave interviews and cutting the recorded pieces so they would make a programme. And two last words:

1 There is a big need for „re-mothering“ by telling stories specially chosen for their age group. The act of telling stories transmits a lot of positive energy and attention – this is what “teenagers” need like younger children or adults. The work in small groups, the commitment of teachers, the enjoyment of stories this is what I feel enthusiastic about.”


Interestingly in the radio report the children involved gave a more nuanced explanation for their hesitations. They said that they were not keen on telling stories in front of the teachers! One said that although proud of having done the project and overcoming


2 You are ‘chillig’ (cool)

Pupil to Storyteller

Norway - The Story Circle - An Exercise in Democracy

What We Did Based on a discourse analysis of guides to storytelling, we planned a storycircle with practical exercises that could meet our objectives.



4 upper secondary and 2 lower secondary school classes. PARTICIPANTS

13-19 year old pupils in classes of 20-30. Storytellers (2) and teachers (participating as students). TIMESCALE

Nov 14 - Jan 15. 8 hours planning. Each pilot 2 hours. Plus hour evaluation. Story Circle involved an aesthetic, democratic and didactic approach to learning with a focus on oral storytelling. The target group were young people aged 13-19, focussing particularly on classes that had not much contact with subjects like drama, theatre and storytelling before.

First we chose 5 objectives for our pilot, which were in turn linked to specific key competences. We wanted the young people: • To be able to tell a story within the story circle (communication in the mother tongue); • To be able to describe their own achievements in the story circle, and how they got there (learning to learn); • To be able to listen to and interact with each other (social and civic competences); • To be able to create a story based on imagination (sense of initiative and entrepreneurship); • To acquire information about Norse mythology (cultural awareness and expression).

Activity 1. The room was made ready with chairs in a circle with an arm’s length between each chair. 2. Everybody sat in a circle and we gave a presentation on what we were going to do. 3. The real opening: The storyteller told a story: we chose the creation myth from Norse mythology, this exemplifies the empty space between us that is going to be filled with stories. 4. Retelling the story through questions (we did not do this every time). The students were asked to “throw a question” into the circle based on the story they just had heard. The questions were not to be answered.


5. A Name and an unimportant thing All the participants said their name and added an unimportant thing about themselves – like “I am wearing a black jacket”. The unimportant thing was repeated a second time. The third time they had to change the statement into a question: “Why am I wearing a black jacket?” This is an example on dramaturgy and how a simple change can create a new story. 6. Heiti This is a tool based on Norse mythology. It is a tool the skalds60 used, instead of saying a name, one says something descriptive about oneself. For example instead of “Heidi”, I could say: “I am the one who tells stories”. (Be aware that this easily becomes a “template” – if someone says “I am the one who reads books”, others might repeat this). 7. Stories about their name The student then turned towards a partner and told the story about their name: ‘Where did they get it from? ‘How has it felt to have such a name?’, and ‘What is the meaning of their name?’ 8. The Key An old key was put into the circle; everybody had to say what the key opened. Here we discovered that the students often need help, they might say: The key opens the door of my room, but when we asked them to describe the room, they could say that “nothing” was in the room. 9. Objects The key and 3 other objects were placed on the floor in the circle. (It works better if you use objects that are not immediately connected like: a key, an old picture, a teabag and a pencil.) The students were asked to volunteer to go 114

60 Poets who composed at the courts of Scandinavian and Icelandic leaders during the Viking Age and Middle Ages.

into the circle and to make a picture out of the objects (placing them in a specific position). This we sometimes omitted, depending on the group. First we made a story together out of the objects: What had happened here? Then some of the students made a new picture – and they told a story in pairs. 10.Swap the circle The students were asked to find a new place to sit in the circle, with the aim of working in new pairs. 11. My object The students were asked to choose one of the objects (not picking it up) and to tell a partner how they used this object and why they could not live without it. 12. What if? Then they were asked to imagine what the object would be in 10 years and to tell their partner. Example: Maybe the pencil will not exist anymore because we will use a smartphone to write… 13. What if? (2) The students were asked to imagine who they would be in 10 years. This they shared with the whole group. This is a very interesting exercise to do, and they listened to each other in a new way. 14. The storyteller (the teacher) told either a dilemma story or a personal story – both types lead to discussion after the telling. A dilemma story is a story without an ending, the listener has to decide how the story should end. Here is a structure of the story we used:

Three young friends could not get a job where they lived. One was a woodcarver, the second was a tailor and the third was a goldsmith. They decided to travel to find work. They walked until they came to a forest and there they had to stay overnight. The woodcarver was the first to stand guard at night. His friends slept and woodcarver decided to make something out of a tree. He

made a beautiful woman made of wood out of the trunk of a tree. Then it was the tailor’s turn to stand guard. He saw the woman and he made a dress for her. And when it was goldsmith turn to guard; he made a neck-lace for the woman. Next day they carried the woman to the city and there they sought a medicine man who gave life to the beautiful woman of wood. She was as vibrant as any woman. The three good friends started arguing about who was her real husband. They decided to consult a sage who could decide this for them. But before they go there, I want you to agree on who you think she should have as a husband. They discuss in the group and agree on who is the right man. The group also determines whether they will hear the sage’s decision or whether they are satisfied with the answer they have given. The sage listened to their stories and sage said: That’s right, you made her, woodcarver, but then you’re like a father to her and a father cannot marry his daughter. You took care of her like a brother, tailor, and a brother cannot marry his sister. But you goldsmith, you know what a woman wants, you are the right man. 15. Talk – based on what they heard in the story. 16. Creating a story Beforehand we had prepared 5 pieces of blank paper. We asked the students to give us 5 actions from all the stories they heard. This could be something like this:

Earth is created. A purse was stolen. She wrote a letter. Living in a house. Falling into a well.

The storyteller wrote down the five actions on the five pieces of papers and placed them on the floor in the middle of the circle. The students were now asked to place the actions in an order, on which they had to agree. When this was done, they were asked individually to create a story based on the actions. 17. Story sharing First they told the story to a partner, then they were asked to share the story with the rest of the group. Not everyone wanted to this, which is fine. But we were amazed at the stories told and how easily they incorporated elements that they had heard during the session. 18. Evaluation All the students had to say one sentence about what they had learned during the session. 19. The storyteller tells a ghost story.

Reviewing the Process - Lessons Learned We worked with a very diverse group and it was easier to make this work with pupils in the lower secondary school, than with the older pupils, at least in the groups with which we worked. Even so all classes managed to get through a “full story circle”. The exercises are simple, there is a clear focus on listening when sitting in a circle. Some of the exercises can be used by teachers directly and the format can easily be created in a classroom. We had wanted to use one long story divided into several parts to structure the story circle with tasks directly linked to this. This we did not do, but in fact a teacher would possibly not use a long story, so the use of several shorter stories is more adaptable to a classroom situation. We also thought that having objects helped to create stories. 115

The teachers’ feedback also was that it seemed very simple to do and that they would use some of the exercises. The students gave us a lot of positive feedback. For example in one group there was a student who had been dreading the class because his mother tongue was not Norwegian; even he experienced a feeling of achievement. We also carried out a focus group interview after each session. The interviews are too long to attach here, but you may get a fascinating flavour from this extract.

Extract of Interview of Masters student IK with seven boys – age 16 – 18 (NB Most of the students are not fluent in Norwegian and their words are freely translated).


I.K: What do you think about a session like this today? 2: It made sense. 1: A lot to think about for the future. I.K: Let us do it in the circle. (…) 1: What I would say was that there was a lot of thinking about the future. And many of us do not know what we will do in the future. Nor do I so I had nothing to say then and there. I do not know what I will be. I do not know if I will continue with construction, I do not know if I’ll sit out on the streets or be unemployed. 5: I will remember thinking about my future. I will not have a house in Beverly Hills or be a millionaire I.K: But you got your imagination started? 5: Yes, I dreamed of becoming a professional basketball player, but it was gone long ago. Because I, yes, I was a bit lazy. I.K: Y ou are still young. 5: Yes. 6: Life is short. (…) 3: I think we’ve learned a lot more about how to listen to each other. That when someone tells a story, one listens, that shows respect to listen to any person and simultaneously listen to someone and then discuss.

I think that was what was part of the message here that we should learn to listen to each other and talk and discuss loud in a circle or with more people. …. Not everyone dares to speak in front of people and not everyone is a good listener either… at least in a class like ours because to put it that way ... let me put it simply; we are monkeys. We are monkeys, we will not sit quietly and stuff, but I think such a class is useful for us. So it works out well for us. Everyone thinks a bit about listening properly to each other and respecting each other. I believe in that. (…) 4: It gets me to think a bit more about the future. How it goes and what is going to happen and that you really do not know so much about the future. That it somehow is going to happen, but you are not quite sure what is going to happen. And like they said, I also think it was very good for our class, everyone gets to talk and everyone can try out and (...) everyone talks then. It could easily be like hours that those who do not want to talk can hide and do not speak, but it is very good when everyone can talk. (3 interrupts) 3: It was good that everyone had to. 4: Yes, here we got specific tasks and then we all sort of know what to say. So I think that’s pretty good. 3: It builds the confidence of people. 4: Trust! 6: What I loved about the circle was that we talked about our future. We talked with each other about what we would be and stuff. I think it was nice to know more about what people around us want to be. 5: I find it very funny when we get visits from other people who are here to give us a different type of learning than what we get every day. And then it’s fun when those guys who come, in this case you, tell stories and when we get into the topic of the future and stuff so (...) you get very many impressions and then you think about how others will be and so you think a little about who you really are yourself. You open yourself up while the other opens up and you

get to know more about them. We are talking about something else than the usual. 1: I think it was very interesting to hear about what people want to be and what future they fancy and stuff. Yes, it was very interesting. I.K: Great! Thanks for your cooperation! In summary The exercise was a success, despite some challenges and changes along the way. In terms of our objectives (competences) we can say that: • Communication in the mother tongue: ALL the participants told their own personal stories either in pair or to the whole group, and all listened to stories told by the tellers. • Learning to learn: all the participants evaluated their own learning by saying at least one sentence. • Social and civic competences: the story circle in our context is inspired by the term “ting” in Norse literature”. At “ting” the participants sat in a circle and discussed laws and conflicts, no weapons or fights were allowed. And all could address a topic without being interrupted. In the pilot we managed to get everyone to speak while the rest of the group listened. • Sense of initiative and entrepreneurship: the participants were asked to solve different tasks in a “story way”. • Cultural awareness and expression: the storytellers told stories from Norse mythology, dilemma stories and one personal story. The students told personal stories and stories they made up. In the story circle they also worked on their own sense of who they are.


Digital Storytelling

What We Did

Italy - Collaborative Creation across Borders


A non-selective all ability primary school in Milan, linked virtually to a primary school in a refugee camp in Somalia. PARTICIPANTS

“HOC-LAB” in the Department of Electronics, Information and Bioengineering (Politecnico di Milano) 21 3rd year Primary school children (Bussero). Refugee children Somalia. TIMESCALE

2 hours per week over 2.5 months. This pilot involved the creation of a digital story based on an experience of intercultural communication between the Italian school and a primary school in a refugee’s camp in Somalia. The two schools have been twinned over a period of time, and this has involved a visit to the Somali school by the Italian teacher and the exchange of e mails. The digital story was created using an authoring tool, 1001voices, previously developed by HOC-LAB as a task within the TALES project.


Preparation We set out with a number of objectives, relating to attitudes, knowledge and skills (competences). ATTITUDES This was central to the pilot given the collaboration between Italy and Somalia. We hoped to develop: • An appreciation of the similarities between children in Somalia and children in Italy; • A realisation of the inequalities: deprivation (of food and water) in Somalia, abundance in Italy. KNOWLEDGE and SKILLS • Acquisition of knowledge about the life-style in Somalia; • Learning to write; • Learning to perform; • Working creatively with others; • Communicating clearly; • Media literacy (efficient multimedia communication); • ICT literacy. These skills were very much related to the Key Competences (p.xx), and in particular Mother Tongue Communication, Digital Competence and Cultural Awareness and Expression. We also wished to promote INCLUSION by the involvement of “difficult” pupils.

Planning and logistics Since this was a digital storytelling project, the provision of suitable resources and the arrangement of the class were also important. We decided on the following materials: • • • • • • •

2 PCs for content writing; 2 PCs for content browsing on the internet; 1 PC and a microphone for audio recording; Appropriate audio-recording software (Audacity); A video projector; A digital camera for taking pictures; Very cheap analogue cameras so that each student could take pictures outside the class; • A printer for printing the texts for the “performers”; • Pens, pencils, markers, paper for creating the drawings.

different tasks more or less simultaneously. Roles were changed over time so that each pupil could have the opportunity of trying all the activities. Activities 2-8 took place over 2 months for 2 hours per week. 2: Content finding (via Internet and books). Pupils, in pairs, browsed the internet looking for content to enrich the story, for example images, information about Somalia … 3: Text writing Pupils in small groups (2 or 3) wrote texts together. One sat at the key board proposing the main lines, while the others checked and suggested changes. Roles switched during the activity.

The class was arranged as follows: • In the main class: pupils worked in groups around small tables, each equipped with a PC (for content browsing and content creation). • In a separate room: pupils (two “technicians” and a “storyteller”) recorded the audios. • (If available): a separate room, for photo-shooting.

Process 1: Definition of the storyboard. Duration: 1 week. A digital “story” is divided into a number of chapters and possibly sub-chapters. The first task for the class – after the definition of the whole topic – was to define what chapters and sub-chapters the story will have and to organize the pupils into groups, so that everyone has a role. In the case of this pilot, the pupils together decided the overall plot of the story and the organization of the “storyboard”. The following activities then took place in parallel – the children were divided into groups which carried out the

4: Creation of visuals Groups of 5-6 took pictures, created a photo-shoot setting in the classroom (see picture 1). Individuals drew illustrations. Small groups (2) searched for pictures on the internet. 5: Recording audios Two pupils were trained by the teacher on how to use the recording software “Audacity”. They were named “the technicians” and put in charge of (1) recording the first audios and (2) training another pupil. The newly trained pupil, once ready, replaced one of the technicians; a new trainee would step in. By the end, all students had


experience as “technicians”. The same process took place for the “performers”: each pupil was asked to record the audio of at least one chapter of the story.

Reviewing the Process - Lessons Learned The children produced a multimedia story (in Italian): It is about a goat and a dromedary that thanks to a magic bag can travel the world, from Italy to Somalia. Thus they can learn about and compare the different life-styles, with a special emphasis on food traditions. According to the teacher, the key elements of success were:

6: Uploading the materials The content (texts, audios and images) was uploaded as it was ready, piece by piece, into the 1001voices tool by the different groups. 7: Evaluation All the pupils (together with the teacher) watched the story as it was projected on the screen. The tool allows the story to be reviewed even before it is officially “done”. Pupils can comment, take notes and discuss possible changes. 8: Revision The responsible pupils made the changes discussed in the evaluation phase.

• Group-work; • A sense of responsibility towards the final product as the result of a “common” effort; • The high-level of motivation, connected to the use of technology. The teacher also commented on the value of Digital Storytelling as a didactic tool:

I’ve noticed that children who are good at school have no problem in talking in front of a class; but children who are shy, they just don’t talk: so oral expression for them does not exist. Of course, they can write. But I realized that through the digital storytelling tool, not only the good students learn more, but most important the ones in difficulty find a way of self-expression. Creating a digital story is highly motivating because in the end students have in their hands something that a lot of people will see, something real, something they can understand because they are digital natives… And on improvements in mother tongue communication as a result of the project:


It improves, definitely. Either by cooperating with the others or writing alone, due to the high level of motivation […] students came to understand that they were writing for someone who would really want to understand. Someone they don’t know. And that is why they HAVE to be clear.

In relation to the European key competences we noted the following positive outcomes: • Communication in the mother tongue. Pupils were enabled to reformulate their knowledge and opinions into texts that were fed into the story; they were constantly reminded that their story had to be understandable by a variety of addressees, including people from a totally different culture. • Digital competence. The children used 1001voices, an authoring tool for the creation of multimedia stories made available within the frame of the TALES project; moreover, they got mastery of content editing programs, for example for scanning images, recording audios (Audacity), editing pictures etc. • Learning to learn. Within each group, pupils played specific roles in turns that enhanced their responsibility for their own learning. • Cultural awareness and expression. The whole process of a multimedia story creation is meant to enhance selfexpression through different media; in addition, the topic selected (comparison between two far-away and quite different cultures) enhanced cultural awareness (as well as intercultural dialogue and tolerance).


Belgium - Digital Storytelling for European New Teachers CONTEXT

The pilot took place within a four month Erasmus programme at University College Leuven-Limburg involving a local primary and secondary school. PARTICIPANTS

25 trainee teachers from 8 countries. A storyteller. University staff. Teachers. One class of 16 year olds. Two classes of 12 year olds. TIMESCALE

April to May 2015 including 5 days in schools. The second TALES digital pilot involved older children (12-16) and, critically an international group of trainee teachers (the “European New Teachers”). A number of questions were asked at the beginning if the pilot: How does the opportunity to create a digital narrative allow pupils, students, teachers, storytellers to tell unheard stories (ethos phase in digital storytelling)? Can digital storytelling be used as didactic tool, even by teachers who are no digital natives? How does digital storytelling contribute to the acquisition of the European key competences? How does digital storytelling engage students, pupils and teachers?


What We Did CREOS students CREOS is a creative module aimed at enhancing the creative competences of both teacher trainees in the Erasmus program) and pupils/students. The students attended the storytelling festival in Alden Biesen and had a storytelling workshop by a professional storyteller to increase their storytelling skills. They also received a lesson on digital storytelling by a lecturer of UCLL (Why is digital storytelling an emerging pedagogical tool? Digital storytelling as learning tool for the YouTube generation? The digital storytelling cookbook). One of the students led a workshop on Movie Maker. They read Tove Jansson’s ‘The Summer Book’ In The Summer Book Tove Jansson distils the essence of the summer—its sunlight and storms—into twenty-two crystalline vignettes. This brief novel tells the story of Sophia, a six-year-old girl awakening to existence, and Sophia’s grandmother, nearing the end of hers, as they spend the summer on a tiny unspoiled island in the Gulf of Finland. The grandmother is unsentimental and wise, if a little cranky; Sophia is impetuous and volatile, but she tends to her grandmother with the care of a new parent. Together they amble over coastline and forest in easy companionship, build boats from bark, create a miniature

Venice, write a fanciful study of local bugs. They discuss things that matter to young and old alike: life, death, the nature of God and of love. “On an island,” thinks the grandmother, “everything is complete.” In The Summer Book, Jansson creates her own complete world, full of the varied joys and sorrows of life.

The students then retold the stories and shared their individual stories and created a digital story individually or in small groups using the seven steps of storytelling. The students found a frame for their stories and shared them in the group and reflected on them.

Tove Jansson lived for much of her life on an island like the one described in The Summer Book, and the work can be enjoyed as her closely observed journal of the sounds, sights, and feel of a summer spent in intimate contact with the natural world. (www.

The seven steps of digital storytelling61: 1 Owning your insight 2 Owning your emotions 3 Finding the moment 4 Seeing your story 5 Hearing your story 6 Assembling your story 7 Sharing your story

The students then interwove a vignette with a personal story (individual or in group of four). They were given a number of prompts: • Tell the story of a decisive moment in your life; • Tell the story of a mentor or hero in your life; • Tell the story of a time when things in your life were not going so well and you felt really scared; • Tell the story of a time in your life when things worked out much differently than you expected; • Tell the story of a “first”: first love, first day on a job, first time trying something really difficult; • Tell the story of a moment in time when you knew you would never be the same again.

Secondary and primary school pupils The pupils read Tove Jansson’s ‘The Summer Book’. Three CREOS students specialising in secondary education assisted a class of secondary school students (16 years old) in creating their own digital stories. The digistories were presented to the parents. In the primary school, 17 international student worked with a group of 46 children (12 years old), each student assisted 3 or 4 children in creating their own digital story. The 5 Belgian students acted as interpreters when necessary. The stories were presented to the parents and grandparents.

61 Lambert, J. Digital Storytelling Cookbook. Berkeley: Center for Digital Storytelling, 2010. Contributions by Hill, A., Mullen, N., Paull, C., Paulos, E., Soundararajan, T. & Weinshenker, D.


Reviewing the Process - Lessons Learned The overall results of the project were very positive. In terms of concrete outcomes: • 11 digital stories were created by CREOS students; • 6 digital stories were created by secondary pupils; • 16 digital stories were created by primary pupils; • Pupils, students and teachers embraced digital storytelling as didactic tool; • Several teacher trainees plan to promote digital storytelling in their country’s curriculum. We asked the teachers and pupils to reflect upon their experiences with this project. The teacher trainees were asked more specifically about content, media, key competences, lesson plans. Primary school pupils preferred: • Inventing stories; • Making pictures and videos; • Recording the voice over; • Working with international students; • Learning and speaking English: in three days, they became confident about speaking English: some of them insisted on doing their voice-over in English. According to the primary school teachers: • Children loved working with the international students, they were interested in their culture and language, they loved communicating in English. • Children showed skills and characteristics they don’t normally use in the classroom. • Finding a suitable story was the most difficult step. • Some stories were really personal, some subjects were censored. • Digital storytelling can be used in all other subjects to convey content. • Digital storytelling is a way of flipping the classroom, pupils can use it to explain content to their peers. • Pupils who took part in this project will remember it forever. 124

The teacher trainees • Were enthused by the potential of digital stories and programmes such as Movie Maker to deal with a range of topics, including important and difficult ones.

The fascination of a narrative approach, the mix of various media, the personal interest, the capacity of being connected with previous and following learning, the combination of creativity and the immediate communication are all elements which contribute to give power to this didactic tool. Arianna, Italy • Saw the possibilities for increasing pupils’ independence and confidence (“unsilencing” them) through the use of digital approaches.

I worked closely for three days with three Belgian pupils in order to help them create their personal story. Those three girls knew how to work together and became an example of cooperative work for me. They respected each other’s ideas and were open to alternative ideas and solutions for any problem that occurred. I got used to Dutch and they got more used in speaking and understanding English. I was able to value the power of digital storytelling in unsilencing pupils, as they shared stories with which they probably didn’t want to deal alone anymore. Markella, Greece

• Realised that the digital world was the world in which young people now live and that education has to reflect that.

Today’s students are surrounded by media and sometimes they know how to work with them much better than their teachers. And therefore it is very important to “go with the times”. And learning through movies is one of the possible ways to bring education near to students. Klara, Czech Republic • Were inspired by the idea of the story as an educational tool, for a range of subjects.

We have to use digital storytelling in every topic, it’s such a good way to teach something. We can use digital storytelling in primary and secondary education. We can also use it in museums, in higher education, public health, healthcare, international development, religious training, libraries. Gülsah Uysal, Turkey And the answers to our questions 1. How does the opportunity to create a digital narrative allow pupils, students, teachers, storytellers to tell unheard stories? • Some stories were familiar but they were told by someone who had actually experienced it (e.g. Think), some students and pupils shared stories they had never told before. The creation of the digital stories invited them to reflect critically and voice their societal and political position within the group and within Europe (e.g. Being Greek in Erasmus, Hooliganism, Our Erasmus experience). 2. Can digital storytelling be used as a didactic tool even by teachers who are no digital natives? • The response from the students and the teachers’ feedback prove beyond any doubt that digital storytelling can have numerous uses in school education.

• The students appreciated the fact that one of their fellow students instructed them and his teachers on the use of Movie Maker. 3. How does digital storytelling engage students, pupils and teachers? • Students as well as pupils were highly involved during the creation of their stories and saw many opportunities to use digital stories as didactic tools (e.g. they made digital portfolios and one Greek student has planned to use it in his STEM education. The primary school teacher wants to try out using it in other subjects and as a means of flipping the classroom). 4. How does digital storytelling contribute to the acquisition of the European key competences? • Communication in the mother tongue: students and pupils shared their personal stories, negotiated and discussed, they wrote scripts and storyboards. • Communication in foreign languages: the students and pupils used English, which is not their mother tongue, for listening, speaking, researching, reading and writing. In listening to personal stories and in creating digital stories in international groups, they also practised intercultural understanding. The pupils highly appreciated the fact that they had the chance to improve their English in an international context. • Mathematical competence and basic competences in science and technology. “The Summer Book” is situated in a remote island in the Gulf of Finland exploring survival skills. Linking to make culture we asked pupils, students, teachers to reflect on the importance of understanding nature to live either on a remote island or in town, in a suburban area: spatial thinking. We also asked our storytellers to link their narratives in a visual map sequencing and interlinking their digital design: logical thinking. Some students used scientific metaphors as story frames.


• Cultural awareness and expression: as this digital project evolved around personal stories and ethos, the pupils and students appreciated the importance of the creative expression of ideas, experiences and emotions in a range of media (music, performing arts, literature and the visual arts). While creating a digital narrative, the pupils, students, teacher had to create an identity as a storyteller and so reflect about their values, starting from a European but rather unfamiliar perspective.


• Digital competence: The students and pupils searched for information on digital storytelling on the internet. They make their digital story using communication technology (ICT). They had to deal with copyright issues. • Learning to learn: the students had to organise their own learning, individually and in groups, in accordance with their own needs, and awareness of methods and opportunities. They had to ask themselves questions and be able to express what they had learned and how they achieved this in a reflection session and in their portfolio The CREOS students became the facilitator’s of the primary school pupils’ learning. • Social and civic competences: the students and pupils developed their personal, interpersonal and intercultural competence while creating digital stories. By listening to the personal stories of others, they refined their understanding of codes of conduct and customs in different environments and cultures in which individuals operate. They became aware of social and political concepts and structures (democracy, justice, equality, citizenship and civil rights) in other European countries. By working in groups, they engaged in active and democratic participation. “The Summer Book” is an ideal initiator for this competence as both grandmother and granddaughter overcome their fears of change. • Sense of initiative and entrepreneurship: while creating digital narratives both pupils and students had to deal with the unexpected, rely on serendipity, take initiatives which take them outside the classroom or curriculum.

A final quote

‘Exciting times for pupils and teachers whenever traditional methods are meeting modern methods. Were pupils aware of all the domains used? Yes. Were the children and students aware of how to combine them into a modern method of storytelling? No’ (…) (T) here has never been a time more exciting to be a teacher. From foundation right through pupils’ school career they have opportunities to express themselves in ways never imaginable even when I was in primary school.’ Pearse, Northern Ireland

The digital stories can be found on and we invite you to the Facebook group storiesforlearning to share digistories and to participate in the ongoing discussion.

Storytelling Beyond School Portugal - Listening and Telling Stories: Community to School and Back Again CONTEXT

A vocational school in Beja, in Alentejo, one of the poorest (rural) regions of Portugal with few work opportunities.

learning, and building personal relations and community. • To provide the opportunity for students to experience storytelling in different contexts and with different target groups, giving a broad and undogmatic idea of how storytelling can be used. • To create an experiential and reflective learning process where each of the students could find his/her own “voice”.


Students in the 1st year of a professional course for “Técnicos de Acção Psicossocial” (Technicians in psychosocial development), training to work in social institutions for elderly. Ouvir e Contar, a Portuguese association of storytellers, which works extensively in community and educational contexts. Municipal Library of Beja - José Saramago. TIMESCALE

7 months (from December 2014 to June 2015). 2 sessions monthly (average) of 2 hours. This project linked formal education/training to the past life of the learners and to the communities from which they came. The target group were not high achievers and they did not automatically have high expectations of education. One of the challenges was therefore to engage them in learning. In addition we had a number of specific objectives/questions: • How to sensitize these young people to the intangible heritage of their region through interchange with the elderly (their future client group), and in that way, also to contribute to their own cultural self-awareness, opening channels for intergenerational dialogue. • How to highlight the potential of storytelling (for those who listen and for those who tell) in social work with all ages and in all contexts, as a support for experiential exchange,

What We Did The project was carried out in 3 stages: December 2014 to February 2015 We identified those students who had listened to stories when they were children and also the people who told them the stories. Those experiences and memories were shared with the rest of the class: the stories, the contexts and the storytellers (the family member or community member who told them stories - often their grandmothers (!)). We then decided with the students which of these storytellers would be willing to be visited by the class. We then visited the storytellers with the class to listen to their stories. The students went to visit the storyteller in his or her own habitat (village, square, house) and here the student who


identified the storyteller was the mediator: she was sharing her village, her neighbourhood, her grandparent or elder friend with the rest of the class. For this to work we decided that a degree of privacy and intimacy was needed, so the class were divided into three groups: each group went to visit a different village or neighbourhood and they shared their experiences later.

performed their storytelling sessions and the third group published their digital story on the internet. In this way the project was a kind of virtuous circle. The students first went out to meet the community, to listen to stories from their elders and to see professional storytellers working in context. Then they worked in class, in their school, among themselves. Finally the students returned to their communities, this time to share what they had learned. The project completed a cycle: from community to school and back again.

March to May 2015 In this phase the students told each other stories. They were introduced to different types of repertoire (legends, folktales, urban legends, life stories, etc.) and carried out practical exercises in for example group dynamics, rhythm and body expression, voice, narrative games. In parallel they went to see professional storytellers working in two different contexts: they saw a session in an old people’s home and a session for children in the public library. They had the opportunity to discuss with the professional storytellers in the sessions they attended.

June 2015 (one session weekly: 4 sessions of 2 hours)


In this phase the students were divided into three groups according to their own preference: one group prepared a storytelling session in an old people’s home; another group worked with primary school children in the Public Library; the third group created a digital story. Each group worked with one trainer during this last phase. Finally, the first two groups

Reviewing the Process - Lessons Learned There is no doubt that this was a challenging project. Despite this it was overall a success. A number of important outcomes were achieved: 1. The students achieved a great deal in particular in terms of communication and cultural understanding. This is a good basis on which to build.

“We learned a very important thing: listening to others. It was very positive the trips we made to listen to tales and life stories… We learned to tell stories, to express ourselves and to be able to captivate others…” Student [freely translated]

2. The class, the teacher and the school wish to continue this project next year. So the partnership between the school and the Library of Beja will continue. We will be working with the same class, as continuity is so important for this process. The idea is to support these students until the end of their course (another two years). 3. The students will also be part of the Tales Conference and will participate in the Library festival program, so they will perform their storytelling sessions again on other occasions. According to the teacher this project was a unique opportunity for the school, for the teachers and for the students. She was convinced that storytelling - especially supported by professionals as in this case - could be a very important asset for professional training in social, cultural and educational work and also for developing the social, communicative and motivational competences of their students. We also learned (or rather were confirmed in the view) that learning demands continuity, stability and endurance if the aim is more than developing a few competences and providing exercises and practical “recipes”. These 14 sessions, during 7 months were the beginning of something, and there is still a long way to walk. The students realised the importance of communication and narrative in social work, they started to learn to value their own culture and their own personal identity, they got to know folktales and traditional narratives, they started to enjoy and respect the life experiences of the elderly, and they made their first steps into storytelling. But this was just the beginning. Acquiring knowledge and real understanding is a long-term process.

I learned to enjoy the oral tradition, I learned that folktales are not limited just to one version, that there are many ways to tell the same one, I learned to prepare a story to tell and to understand the specificities of each kind of audience and it was really good, the pleasure of telling stories.” Student

The main obstacle to work in an institutional context, especially in this kind of course where students have low expectations, is a lack of MOTIVATION. In this respect we drew two conclusions: the sessions cannot be too far apart in time and the relationship between trainer and class is critical. For example there can be significant barriers to learning because of relationship difficulties between the students: students may not be willing to work in a group, they may be uneasy about speaking of personal feelings in front of the class. Here, the work of the teacher/trainer as a mediator is crucial. At the same time we must understand our limitations: some problems will continue to exist no matter what we do. In these cases is important not to force the students to do what makes them uncomfortable, whether this is working in groups they don’t like, or, even more importantly, revealing their emotions in front of colleagues with whom they have difficult relations. What is important is that they accomplish their objectives, and by doing so, the ensuing motivation and satisfaction will reduce the impact of difficult relationships. As each student becomes happier and more confident with what they are doing the group dynamic will improve. As well as working in groups it is important to leave space for individual reflection and development. To return to the student with whom we began this chapter:

In the beginning listening to stories was boring because I was not interested. But then, by listening to others, something awoke in me and I began to be more attentive and to imagine everything that was told… I had some troubles telling stories as I had never done it before and I had never thought about it. But later I started to enjoy it and I learned to control my anxiety, which was not easy because of my colleagues… I had a hard time memorizing all the elements of the story I had to tell to the children but I was really happy with the experience and I want to do it again…


Reflections on the Pilot Projects - Taking Things Further Learning from other people’s pilots can be a tricky business. There can be an understandable temptation to take them as models to be imitated when they are actually more like experiments including failures as well as successes - rooted in specific circumstances and contexts, some of which are not replicable. As we said in opening this chapter we think that these examples of storytelling contain some interesting ideas for adaptation and reflection, but they are lived experiences, not blueprints. In fact we would not want you to repeat what has been done - even were that to be possible - but rather to think, discuss and adapt some of these ideas and possibilities for your own context and our own needs. It may be useful at this point to reflect on some of the following points (whether alone or with colleagues).

THINKING ABOUT THE PILOTS: 1. On storytelling On p.92 we quote the writer Doris Lessing on the importance of storytelling. Here is a longer quotation:

“The human race has been telling stories since it began. Storytelling began with the songs and ceremonies of the shamans and priests, began in religion, and for thousands of years has been instructing us all. It is easy to see the process in the parables of the Bible. Humanity’s legacy of stories and storytelling is the most precious we have. All wisdom is in our stories and songs. A story is how we construct our experiences. At the very simplest it can be: He/she was born, lived, died. Probably that is the template of our stories — a beginning, middle, and end. This structure is in our minds62”


62 060530112&displayType=bookinterview

Is this a writer’s exaggeration, or do you also think that “all wisdom is in our stories and songs”, and if so where is that wisdom in our education systems? 2. Product or Process? The pilots describe concrete outcomes (products) and also the process by which they were created. In some cases there are few actual products. Does this matter? Does storytelling have to have a measurable result? 3. Oral and Digital? Our examples include both oral and digital pilots, sometimes in the same pilot. Do you think there are fundamental differences between the two or are they different aspects of the same process. What are the differences and the similarities? 4. A special expertise? Does a teacher need special expertise - whether as an oral storyteller, or to use appropriate technology - to make use of these ideas or is there something here for everyone? 5. What subject matter? Stories are commonly used to entertain, to articulate feelings and emotion and to impart cultural understanding. Based on these experiences, or your own, how relevant are stories for broader educational goals - even to acquire scientific knowledge? 6. Oracy and literacy In many countries there are concerns about school age children’s literacy - lack of reading for example. Does the orality of traditional storytelling exacerbate this perceived problem or can it be part of a solution? How? The TALES consortium is, of course, committed to the idea of storytelling as an educational tool. Indeed some of us have seen parallels between the role of the traditional storyteller and the role of the good teacher. You do not of course have to agree! But for us in a range of contexts and for a range of purposes stories work, whether in school or after school. As we suggest in Chapter 2, and as we believe that we have

shown through the pilots there are links between the story and some of the most powerful ways that we access learning and knowledge, whether this is to • Stimulate learning (memory) even in another language; • Gain new insights - understanding of one self and ones thoughts and fears; • Access new knowledge (trees, Somalia) and so a better understanding of the world; • Discover creative possibilities - telling and imagining and using technology; • Increase motivation and attention span even in some of hitherto least successful learners; • Provide pleasure, enjoyment, laughter and tears. As has been often pointed out, in many languages the word story is identical to the word for history. In Europe in its earliest manifestations in Ancient Greece no distinction was made between the two (Istoria) and the historian/storyteller was known as a seeker of knowledge. Yet for many people in the 21st century a story has become something more trivial - for little children or telling jokes (as though young children and jokes are something trivial!). So while the telling of stories for their own sake (the last of our list above) is commonplace in primary schools, it is often regarded as inappropriate or embarrassing for older learners. We think that this is a mistake, as the examples from Austria, Estonia, Belgium, Norway and Portugal would suggest. In each case learning, understanding and enjoyment and creation are combined, and often with some of the least successful learners. If you agree, or even if you are just tempted to explore further, how might you proceed? It is of course not for us to say, but perhaps there are some questions which it would be useful to consider if you are planning to make use of ideas from our pilots. These are some suggestions. You could of course add others: • What are your learning/teaching objectives and the competences that you hope to develop. Here not only the pilots but also the list of Key Competences might be of use.

• What resources do you have or could you have? Do you have access to a Storyteller? What Digital mysteries are at your disposition? What resources do you already have? What books or films? Some ideas about sources of such information are available in Chapter XX • What are the characteristics of the learners? Here the range of our pilots should be helpful. • What is the timescale? Again we think that we show that anything is possible - from a few hours to a few months, but preparation will be crucial, even for a short session. • How will you involve the learners? If it is anything a story is not an imposition - just another lesson. Storytelling is special, sometimes magical, and the sharing of that magic is an important role for the teacher. It should be a shared experience in which the learners also find a voice. The relationship between teaching and storytelling is an interesting one. As one of our TALES colleagues pointed out we are probably all quite comfortable with the idea of teaching about stories and storytelling. We might also like to teach how to tell stories. But perhaps the greatest prize would be to develop our teaching as storytelling. This would require us, as teachers, to share the magic of the moon and the heat of the sun rather than the dullness of objectives and the torpor of testing. It could be that telling becomes ‘normal’, a part of a teacher’s repertoire in which the learners are also eager participants. As a final thought, then, we need a story. For maybe in the end planning and reflection - important as they are - will take us no further. We just have to jump!


The Story of the Frogs and a Bowl of Milk

Two frogs were wandering around a farm. They jumped up to a window and entered the kitchen. There they saw a huge bowl and, perhaps moved by curiosity, they jumped into it. This was a terrible idea, as the bowl had milk fat inside and they started to drown. The first frog immediately started measuring their possibilities of escape: the height between the milk fat line and the edge of the bowl; the strength of their feet; the maximum time they would be able to kick‌ He arrived at the unquestionable conclusion that they would die. In despair, he abandoned himself to his destiny and disappeared beneath the white liquid. The second frog just kicked, irrationally, mindlessly and with great passion. She thought about nothing but the moment she would get out of there and taste the sweetness of liberty again. She kicked so much, so rapidly, so enthusiastically that eventually the milk turned into butter and she could jump. She was free!


References Lambert, J. Digital Storytelling Cookbook. Berkeley: Center for Digital Storytelling, 2010. Contributions by Hill, A., Mullen, N., Paull, C., Paulos, E., Soundararajan, T. & Weinshenker, D. Ramsden, A. & Hollingsworth, S. The Storyteller’s Way. A sourcebook for inspired storytelling. Stroud: Hawthorn Press, 2013. European Key Competences: URISERV:c11090&from=EN Interview of Doris Lessing: D=11302&isbn13=9780060530112&displayType=bookinter view

Because the meaning of the stories is a personal path ... The disciple and the master were walking through the orchard when the first one started to complain: - The master is always talking in riddles, in parables, and never explain the meaning of the stories… After a moment of silence the master asked: - Would you like an orange? And understanding this was a request, the disciple made a gesture to pick one orange from a tree nearby. - No, let me pick that for you – Said the master. He picked an orange and with fruit in his hand he asked the disciple: - Would you like me to peal it for you too? - Oh, thank you master – Said the disciple surprised. The master pealed it and then he asked: - And would you like me to divide the sections for you? - Oh, thank you master, thank you… - Said the disciple in doubt. The master divided the orange in sections and then he asked once more: - And would you like me to chew it for you? - Oh, master, thank you but I think I prefer to chew myself… - Said the disciple embarrassed. Handling the orange to his disciple the master said: - Explaining the stories is like offering chewed oranges.



GUIDELINES Christa Bauer (PHSt, Austria)


Training on Tales Approach to Storytelling for Teachers Target group Teachers (all age groups, all subjects); teacher trainers, teacher trainees

Training goals

• to introduce and clarify storytelling concepts both oral and digital • to give an insight into the work of the Tales project and reasons for both digital and oral storytelling in the 21st century • to gain insight into the state of the art in different countries of Europe • to explore possibilities of using oral storytelling as a didactic tool (connecting to pupils, connecting pupils to ancient wisdom, connecting subject matter in a holistic way, e.g. math) • to learn how to use digital storytelling as a didactic tool (hands-on workshop) • to connect storytelling to EU-priorities in education (key competences) • to become familiar with good practices and pilot projects • to get acquainted with different types of stories and some basic storytelling technique • to develop an educational storytelling project • to get to know storytellers and teachers interested in the subject across Europe

Competences aimed at • to understand the concepts of both oral and digital storytelling and their use in education • to be aware of the different value of both oral and digital storytelling in education • to be able to conceive and implement educational projects using storytelling • to develop and upload a digital story • to be able to connect to teachers, storytellers and storytelling projects across Europe • to know about EU-priorities in education and how to connect to them by storytelling


First Programme Draft Time

Competence aimed at

Content / learning activity

Material / input


- to be able to connect to teachers, storytellers and storytelling projects across Europe

Listening to stories


Getting to know other participants by various playful means (telling your own story)




Listening to input: TALES project goals; approach; quotations


Babylonian speed dating on definitions (oral storytelling, digital storytelling, ‌) Listening to oral stories/seeing examples of digital stories

Cards with basic terminology Storyteller / Examples TALES website

Late afternoon

09:00 - 12:30

- to understand the concepts of both oral and digital storytelling and their use in education - to be aware of the value of both oral and digital storytelling in education

Discussing basic concepts and their value in small groups 14:00 - 17:30

WHAT and WHY? - to understand the concepts of both oral and digital storytelling and their use in education - to be aware of the value of both oral and digital storytelling in education


Listening to input: Oral storytelling in a changing world, benefits (connecting, engaging, holistic, appealing to imagination, creativity, ....


Small group discussion Summing up in fish bowl

20:00 - 21:00

Evening activity

Stories: reading, listening, telling, watching‌




Listening to input: Overall introduction of pilot projects and good practices both oral and digital

Input: 30 min Group work: 100 min.

Developing your own oral storytelling project using one pilot/GP in small group

TALES manual

09:00 - 12:30

- to be able to conceive and implement educational projects using storytelling

14:00 - 17:30

- to develop and upload a digital story


Viewing examples of digital stories


- to know about EU-priorities in education and how to connect to them by storytelling

09:00 - 14:00

- to be able to connect to teachers, storytellers and storytelling projects across Europe Feedback and Evaluation Certificates


Listening to oral storytelling and reflecting the experience in small groups

Exchange on experience/ open questions

50 min.

Hands-on workshop on digital storytelling

Trainer, Cameras, PCs, internet

Input: EU educational priorities, why


Babylonian speed dating on EU-key competences


Storytelling Training Module for Trainees Topic of the Module Storytelling = Super-doping for children’s brains Playful approaches to oral storytelling, how storytelling promotes important key competences. Digital storytelling as continuation of telling in the web and new and innovative learning product.

Target group Primary, Special Needs, Secondary

Year of study/term 3, 6

Category Optional module

Prerequisites for participation none

Educational Goals Students • try out and practice the elemental cultural technique of „oral storytelling“, as promoted EU-wide in the EU-Comenius project “TALES”. • learn playful exercises and basic techniques which make telling effective, joyful and thrilling and which help connect to listeners (= pupils) well.

• cooperate with a professional storyteller as trainer and develop „telling“ lessons for selected groups of pupils or upload digital stories. • Learn about the eight EU- key competences for lifelong learning and how oral and digital storytelling can promote these competences. • obtain comprised background knowledge about characteristics and effects of oral telling. • learn about possibilities of digital telling. • learn through telling themselves and through “TALES pilot and best-practice-projects“ how telling supports motivation and interest of pupils.

Content • practical approaches to effective telling • special exercises and techniques from Frederik Mellak’s course “Telling means speaking from your heart”. • Developing individually selected stories for telling or a digital story. • Implications of oral and digital storytelling“ for EU -key competences. • Basics of competence-oriented teaching. • Techniques for demonstrating competences.

Competences or parts of competences for certification Demonstration of oral or digital telling in a project

Area of Study Didactics Blocked working time!




Schools involved in the pilots


Austria Praxis Schule – Neue Mittelschule, PHSt Graz (AT) A lower secondary comprehensive school in Graz (nonselective, multicultural). The school is linked to the University College of Teacher Training.

Palivere Basic School (EE) Palivere Basic School is a usual local school with 100 students from the village Palivere. In each class there are approximately 10 to 12 students. The school has a class teacher system; the same teacher is teaching all areas of the primary curriculum.



De Appeltuin – Leuven (BE) De Appeltuin is a Freinet (pre)primary school. Freinet pedagogy is an original pedagogy developed by Freinet, based on the free expression of children; free text, free drawing, inter-school correspondence, printing and student newspaper, etc.

Istituto Comprensivo “Monte Grappa” Bussero-Milano (IT) The “Comprehensive” Institute includes three types of school: kindergarten, primary school, secondary school. The educational activities are based on cooperative learning, scientific laboratories, CLIL, arts, theatre and dance…

Paleis (= palace) - Diepenbeek (BE) Paleis is a primary school in Diepenbeek, a village in the east of Flanders, Belgium. It’s a Catholic school that treasures values as the uniqueness of each child, responsibility, solidarity, brotherhood, trust, openness, respect for men, nature and other cultures.


Virga Jesse College – Hasselt (BE) The Virga Jesse College is a secondary school in Hasselt, a town in the east of Flanders, Belgium. The school offers students from 12 to 18 a stable environment with a balance between security and room for personal development. Students can choose different fields of study such as LatinGreek, economics, science, business.


Aarvoll grunnskole (Aarvoll lower secondary school) Bjornholt videregående skole (Bjornholt upper secondary school)

Escola Profissional Bento Jesus Caraça “Escola Profissional Bento Jesus Caraça” is a professional school created in 1989. It offers professional and vocational courses in several cities of Portugal. In Beja, the school runs in an historical building inside the old town.

United Kingdom Haberdashers’ Aske’s Hatcham Temple Grove School London (UK) Haberdashers’ Aske’s Hatcham Temple Grove School is a state-funded primary school in inner-city London.


Storytellers involved in the pilots Austria Frederik Mellak Storyteller Frederik Mellak offers storytelling evenings for adults and children and organises fairytale & nature experience days. He conducts seminars on topics such as telling fairytales, creative work with tales and silent meditation.

Belgium Fred Versonnen - VZW Schobbejak VZW Schobbejak wants to give traditional storytelling a new place in our society in a modern way. Fred Versonnen is convinced that storytelling and the wealth of stories he draws from have a positive impact on e.g. the cultural, social, educational area.

Norway Heidi Dahlsveen (& Student Ingeborg Ingeborg K. R酶d) Heidi Dahlsveen has worked as a professional storyteller nationally and internationally since 1996. Her main focus is to make traditional stories contemporary. Besides telling, Heidi is employed as associate professor in Storytelling at Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences. In 2008 she published an introductory book in storytelling.


Portugal Ana Sofia Paiva Ana Sofia Paiva is a Portuguese actress and storyteller working in numerous projects that merge theatre, storytelling and music. Working consistently as a storyteller since 2007 in Portugal and abroad, she focuses on the power of voice, oral performance and musicality. Ana is also an oral tradition researcher, member of Institute for Studies of Traditional Literature (Lisbon), the Algarve University research center that harbors the Archive of Portuguese Folktales, and part of the collective Mem贸ria Imaterial, an organisation dedicated to the Portuguese intangible cultural heritage. Jorge Serafim Jorge Serafim worked at the Municipal Library of Beja for many years. As a storyteller, he has travelled the country from north to south, including the Azores, conducting numerous storytelling sessions to audiences of all ages. He has participated in events in Spain, Argentina and Canada. He is a regular presence on public TV channel and he is the author of several books.

Cristina Taquelim Cristina Taquelim was born in Lagos in 1964. She has a degree in Educational Psychology and a Postgraduate degree in Documentation Sciences. She is a Reading Mediator and a Technical Advisor for the local Government in the Public Library of Beja, where she is responsible, among other projects, for the biggest Portuguese festival on storytelling “Palavras Andarilhas” (Wandering Words). She is a reference figure on the national scene and has presented several communications in conferences and congresses. She has been a storyteller since 1995 and has participated in several events in Portugal, Brazil, Mozambique, São Tome e Príncipe, Cape Verde, Spain and Argentina. Luís Correia Carmelo Luís Correia Carmelo was born in Lisbon in 1976, but lived in Brazil the first 14 years. He has a Degree in Theatre and a Master Degree in Portuguese Studies. He is a member of the Traditional Literature Studies Institute, (New University of Lisbon) and the Arts and Communication Research Centre (University of Algarve). He is a PhD student, with the thesis “Narração Oral: uma Arte Performativa” (Oral Narration: an Performance Art) and has been granted a scholarship from FCT. He works as a storyteller since 2003 in libraries, schools, associations, theatres and festivals in Portugal and abroad.

António Fontinha António Fontinha was born in Lisbon in 1966 and lived until 1975 in Dundo/Angola. He finished the first year of the Theatre School in Lisbon (1986/86), working as an actor in several productions until 1995. Three years before that he began to work as a storyteller in the “Belavista Education Center” for “Chapitô”, which led him to change his route. Thus he was the first storyteller to work professionally in Portugal and he is a reference on the national scene. Since then he has developed an ongoing work in social intervention projects in schools and libraries across the country, paving the way for several storytellers that followed. The basis of his repertoire are the subjects of Portuguese oral tradition and, in parallel with the activity of storyteller, he has been collecting traditional tales around the country, some of which had been published.

United Kingdom Shonaleigh Cumbers (UK) Shonaleigh is a Drut’syla: a storyteller from the Yiddish culture. She is Associate Lecturer at Derby University, Artistic Director at Phrase Arts and on the board of the British Awards for Storytelling Excellence (BASE) and a writer. She works with schools, universities, organisations and storytellers around the world. The drut’syla repertoire comprises twelve interlinked cycles, each of several hundred tales. Training also involves a complex system of oral memorisation, visualisation and interpretation (midrash) of tales.


References recommended by storytellers Bakhtin, M. The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1981. Bettelheim, B. Psychanalyse des contes de fées. Paris: Editions, 1976. Bjerkem, J. Forteljingas pedagogikk: folkedikting før og no. Oslo: Gyldendal akademisk, 2004. Boal, A. Theater of the Oppressed. London: Pluto Press, 2000.

Holmer, M. Professioneel Musketeers, 2009.




Jean, G. Le pouvoir des contes. Paris: Casterman, 1990. ––. Pour une pédagogie de l’imaginaire. Doornik: Casterman, 1991. King, N. Memory, Narrative, Identity: Remembering the Self. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2000.

Boyer, Dennis. Initiation et sagesse des contes de fées. Paris: Albin Michel, 1988.

Lipman, D. Improving Your Storytelling: Beyond Basics for All Who Tell Stories in Work or Play. Little Rock: August House Publishers, 1999.

de Smedt, M. Nouvelles clés 42: Guérir par les contes. 2004.

Loiseau, S. Les pouvoirs du conte. PUF, 1992.

De Vos, G. Storytelling for Young Adults: A Guide to Tales for Teens. Westport: Libraries Unlimited, 2003.

Mateo, P. Le conteur et l’imaginaire. Edisud, 2005.

De Vos, G., Harris M. & C. Barker Lottridge (eds). Telling Tales: Storytelling in the Family. Edmonton: The University of Alberta Press, 2003. Duborgel, B. Imaginaire et pédagogie. Toulouse: Privat, 1992. Freire, P. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Seabury Press, 1968. Gargiulo, T.L. Once Upon a Time. San Francisco: Pfeiffer, 2007. Gersie, A. Earthtales: Storytelling in Times of Change. Green Print, 1992.


Heath, C. & D. Heath. Made to Stick. New York: Random House, 2007.

––. Storymaking in Bereavement. Dragons Fight in the Meadow. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 1991. Gersie, A. & N. King. Storymaking in Education and Therapy. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 1990.

McCourt, F. Teacher Man: A Memoir. New York: Scribner, 2005. McDrury, J. & M. Alterio. Learning through Storytelling in Higher Education. London: Kogan Page, 2003. Morgan, J. & M. Rinvolucri. Once Upon a Time: Using stories in the Language Classroom. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1983. Sawyer, R. The Way of the Storyteller. London: The Bodley Head, 1962. Seung, O. Psychopédagogie du conte. Paris: Fleurus, 1971. Spiro, J. Storybuilding. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.


This manual is the result of the Comenius Multilateral Project “TALES, Stories for Learning in European Schools�, which was coordinated by the Landcommanderij Alden Biesen (BE) and funded by the Lifelong Learning Programme of the European Commission. Translations of this manual in Dutch, Estonian, French, German, Italian, Norwegian and Portuguese are available on the TALES website:

Project co-ordinator 144 ISBN : 9789081794138

TALES manual - English version