Monday, March 7, 2016

Please Welcome Sharon Skretting, Guest Teacher-Author


imaginationstory

authorpic2First, let me say a huge "Thank You!" to Lynn for having me as a guest on her blog and giving me the opportunity to connect with you, her readers. Today, I want to talk about the vital role of "story" in the classroom.

   Whether discussing with colleagues, attending professional development sessions or reading teacher blogs, conversations inevitably center around how we can find "new" ways to engage the learners in our classrooms. What works? What doesn't? The conversation is not a new one. I've been a teacher for twenty years now and can attest that this topic has, and likely always will be the main focus of discussion in education. Why? The answer is obvious: we want our students to learn!
   I am a strong advocate for continuing the discussion and inviting change to our education system where it is warranted, and I applaud the many individuals who are continually trying to make our "systems" better. However in this post, I want to pose the question: Is new always better?
   Let me explain. What I am trying to say is that some teaching methodologies are tried and true. They have always worked and always will. They have always engaged learners because the technique employed has universal appeal.
   One such technique is storytelling. Everyone loves a good narrative and everyone goes away from a story, having learned something new. The oral traditions of the indigenous peoples had it right! They used the art of storytelling to help their youth connect to real life situations and learn from them. Through story, games and real life experience, everyone learned what they needed to know to function in their world.
   Why is narrative so effective? Because a good story allows us to connect with the characters and see, feel, hear and experience through them. "Story" involves an emotional connection and emotional connection activates learning! This is the very basis for my novel, "The Jewel of Peru" and the concept for the Quest Teaching website. I asked myself, What if I were to write a novel that uses the curriculum as the plot and allows the students to use the story to connect the concepts they must learn? Of course, foremost the story must exciting and engaging literature, but couldn’t it also encompass learning?
   Could this be done? I’ve always loved writing, so was I crazy enough to try? The answer is yes! I planned the story and it all came together. Carefully, I wove the concepts I wanted them to learn throughout the plot! Then I went through the professional steps to publish so I’d have a quality learning tool for many years to come.
Check out the 5 star reviews on Amazon! Check out the 5 star reviews on Amazon!
   Did it work? Yes! The response in the classroom has been magic! Year after year, my students love the novel, and beg for more. Now, I’m getting the same response reported from other classroom teachers who have used the novel in their classrooms. It really has worked better than I ever imagined. The students identify with the characters and root for them while they were taken through the story. They are emotionally involved and want more when we come to the page- turner endings of chapters. But, most of all, the story gives me a way to connect their learning. The “remember when…” factor provides the jumping-off point for lessons. As the students identify with all that the characters have gone through, they connect it to the classroom lessons and are interested and engaged. Story makes a great “hook.”
   As educators we need to use the tried and true methodologies that we know will work, but continually strive to use present technologies that allow our students to engage with the concepts in meaningful ways. A strong marriage of current technology and existing best practices will yield a beautiful family of life-long learners!
   I have developed support materials to go along with The Jewel of Peru. Please message me on my website as I have some freebies for teachers. Also check out the Tieplay supports for the novel at:tieplayjewelcomp
Best,
Sharon Skretting
Drop by, and say hi at www.questteaching.com
If you’re interested in some research on the connection between storytelling and narrative, check this out:


photo credit: BlueSpace via photopin (license)

4 comments:

  1. Congrats on getting your books published. I have five that have not found a home, yet. Sounds like you have it together.

    http://joycelansky.blogspot.com/

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    1. Hi Joyce,
      This is author, Sharon. Let me know if you want any help with the publishing process. What kind of books do you write?

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  2. I've written three YA and two MG--all realistic fiction. My first book will never be published, but that's pretty typical. I'm especially attached to book three, about a kidnapped mob boy, and the fourth is a sequel to it, but my son thinks my MC is boring, even though what happens to him is intense. My fifth book is MG and was written through a course from The Institute of Children's Literature. I've been an SCBWI member and have attended multiple conferences but haven't had any luck getting my novels published. I do, however, have a story published in AppleSeeds magazine. I'm always open to help. Thanks.

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    1. That sounds great, Joyce. A course with the Institute of Children's Lit is what got me started, too! It takes time to hone the craft. Remember character is one of the most important elements. Your reader really has to connect and 'feel' for your MC. So take your son's words to heart and put yourself inside your MC's head to write as if you were experiencing the story. I think that's some of the best advice I can give. Let me know if you have any other questions. You can connect with me at www.questteaching.com . Take care and keep writing!

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