TCEA Area 7 Keynote– Darren Kuropatwa and Storyfinding

Darren’s keynote is about the power of telling stories, so these notes are not going to reflect the story very well.  But perhaps they will give readers access to his ideas and stories he shared.

This began at a conference on “problem finding” — about helping students find real problems to solve gave Darren the idea for storyfinding.

Links can be found here:

We are the stories we tell.   In a classroom think of the power of when students came into a classroom with a slide “Once upon a time” up on the screen.  How powerful is that.

Children love to tell stories–we are the stories we tell.  And at the end of life, what we most want to remember about people are the stories they told.  What we most want to remember are the stories that are told.

Robot + Person = a Story

Darren is demonstrating by telling us stories, which pose questions.

How do make the mundane a story worth telling?  Darren shared this video of the piano staircase as an example.

Why does someone pay a million dollars for a piece of art?  Because you are buying the whole story of that work of art, the artist, etc.  Not just the painting itself.

John Cage music  4′ 33″  — entire piece made of “rests.”  People showed up to attend a concert of silence to be part of an experience.

Darren was part of conference (UnPlug*D – Narrative Matters)  in Canada where they came together in 3 days to create a book by the end of the conference.  It was a conference of community, sharing, music, playing.   Began working on books months in advance, but at 3 day gathering worked to finish the book together in person.   Like a retreat for writing–food, play, nudges for writing.   How do we take the mundane and make it compelling?

The book is Why ____ Matters.  About the hopes for the future.   Find more at    The narrative of how the book was written can add meaning to what you read in the book.   Similarly, the things you do in your classroom are going to sparkle not because of the content, but because of the stories you shared together, the shared experience of your classroom.

(By the way, the conference will be held again this year in Canada, and attendees welcome.)

There’s a war going on in our classrooms;  not teachers against students.  It’s the war against boredom. What we’d like to have going on in our classrooms we want to have a sense of wonder and joy and fascination “for the best of reasons; for love.”   Love for our subject, love for the things that we teach.   We have to find the thing that makes it really compelling for us.

The ten commandments for teachers, George Polya, author of How to Solve It(on problem solving).

1st commandment of teaching–Love your subject–Be interested in your subject.

2.  Know your subject.

3. Know about the ways of learning:  best way to learn is to discover it by yourself.

4.  Try to read the faces of your students.  We suffer from the curse of knowledge, because we know the material.  Try to see their expectations and difficulties.

5. Give them not only information, but “know how”–attitudes of mind, the habit of methodical work.

Back to story–

Brain can retain an image/visual 60,000 times better than words.  We dream in pictures.

Slides that tell a story, with six words, compelling images create a memorable story for students.  We think in metaphors and learn through stories.

Darren gives a great example of how story can make learning compelling– To teach us a math concept, he tells a math story of little Gauss who figured out a mathematical problem.  How MUCH more compelling that makes the math problem.  The audience feels curious about it, and so would students.

How do we get the ideas we want to stick?  Storytelling is a Trojan Horse for learning.  If you can pin what you want students to learn to a story, they’ll remember the story.

How do you find the stories?

Sites like “On this day” in history, science, etc.   Finding Dulcinea site.
Ask your librarian how to find these stories behind your content.

At the end of the class, ask your students, what did you learn?  Darren asks students to be scribes and rather than READ the textbook, but he asks them to write the textbook, by being a scribe and writing what he learned in class.  He tutors them the next day to evaluate the blog post and suggest changes for the next time they are the scribe.

Sharing site:  50 ways to tell a story  .






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