Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Shameless Plug for A Great Book

I finally got a copy, actually a couple of copies, of Social Studies in the Storytelling Classroom by two mensch, Jane Stenson, and Sherry Norfolk.

This book has gotten high praise in some amazing places.

"Accessible, inspirational and practical plans that make storytelling a portal to faceted insights about culture, history, geography, and identity".

Janice M. Del Negro Ph.D. GSLIS Dominican University

"I found this book a must for anyone teaching social studies."

Harry Ross, Ph.D. Associate Professor, National Louis University

There are more, but you get the drift.  Social Studies is a subject ripe for creative drama, storytelling, creative play and twenty first century learning and thinking skills.  Every social studies classroom in the country should have this book.

Social Studies in the Storytelling Classroom is full of lesson plans.  Yes, to anyone who doesn't teach and doesn't want to, this sounds very boring, but for teachers and artists who teach, this is a dream come true.  The subjects, covered in creative, insightful and helpful ways, run the gamut from appreciating cultural differences, to exploring religions, the civil war, immigration, geography, and constructs of cultural norms.  There are many templates that could be used in multiple settings and over whatever period of time the instructor needs.

This is a fabulous book.  I don't say that just because I have two pieces in it.  I say it because I learned a great deal from reading it.  Thinking about social studies through storytelling makes sense because social studies is a recounting of the stories of how our society and other societies moved through history.  History, I might point out, is just that, a story.  The interesting thing about social studies is who gets to tell the story.

When I was a kid, the story of who we are as a nation was very skewed.  I only got one side of it and a very cursory side at that.  We, as a nation, are getting better at telling the story of who we are, but we still shy away from understanding what it means to be a huge, diverse country.  The cat is out of the bag.  We are not monolithic.

Elizabeth Ellis writes a fantastic article about why we need to explore diversity and the strength we have when we go forward as a group of people who understand each other as opposed to a group of people who are being taught there is only one way to think or believe.  There is more than just one side to any story, as anyone who has ever written or worked on a fractured fairytale will tell you.

There are too many amazing essays, lesson plans and ideas to put them all in this review, but Jane and Sherry got some impressive artist teachers to give them a hand.  The list of all star contributors is staggering.  There are essays and lesson plans from Bobby Norfolk, Noa Baum, Tim Tingle, Alton Chung, Beth Horner, Susan O'Halloran, Andy Offut Irwin, Carol Birch, Willy Claflin and that's just a partial list.

Pick up a copy of this if you work as an artist teacher.  Many of these exercises can be adapted for Language arts and English.  It would also make an excellent gift for a social studies teacher in your life.

Happy Reading Everyone!

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