Storytelling in the Social Studies Classroom, pp. 7 of 8

3. Structure the Lesson According to the Story Format

Besides telling more stories as appropriate in the classroom and exposing students to relevant books and movies, teachers can also make use of the story format to structure their lessons. One way this can be done is to spend the beginning of the lesson to generate an interest in a problem, creating a conflict, a situation that puzzles and confounds, and then spending the rest of the lesson resolving the problem (Willingham, 2004). This promotes learning as skills and content (and also emotions) are tagged onto a memorable narrative. This works because “stories provide natural connections between events and concepts” and recalling one part of a story reminds students of another part of the story, “just as hearing one bar of a familiar tune may bring the entire song to mind” (Ang, 2014, p 75). This is similar to what Raihanna had done in her lesson, with the use of the story, “The Jerk”. Egan’s  (1986) book, “Teaching as Storytelling, which is about using the story form to develop a lesson, is a useful resource for teachers who wish to learn how to plan a lesson around a compelling storyline.


From the four stories described in this article, we see that teachers use stories for different purposes. Stories can be used as a bridge for transforming knowledge into understanding as they seem to come naturally to many teachers as a way to illustrate, explain, and connect with students. In her article, Sim (2004) shares a useful tip that practice is the key to confident and effective storytelling. Through practice, stories are also refined and collected for different occasions. Hence, teachers should not be afraid to experiment with storytelling in their classrooms. Teachers may deliver far more than promised, when they seize upon opportunities that come up or thoughtfully prepare to tell stories in their classrooms. Used appropriately, stories can be a very effective pedagogical tool in the social studies classroom.

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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