Videostories and Narrative Education
Videostories is a collaborative project that began four years ago between the faculties of the School of Education and the Mt. Pleasant Blythedale School, and has evolved into a catalyst for change in instruction and empowerment for students and families.
Videostories uses narratives to provide students with the skills and opportunity to give voice to their feelings and advocate for themselves. By integrating the methods of oral history with the tools of StoryCorps, a national nonprofit that inspires people to record each others’ stories, faculty have incorporated the use of story and the skills of listening, interviewing, and writing throughout the curriculum. A Verizon Thinkfinity Initiative grant awarded to Professor Leslie Soodak, PhD, provided funding for the technology needed to record stories and the resources to investigate the use of narrative.
Researchers found that the emerging stories increased teachers’ understanding of their students and offered insight into their often untapped abilities. Narratives were also found valuable to parents of students with disabilities, reinforcing the notion that stories help make meaning of our experiences and are an intrinsic form of human communication.
The project has now developed into a broader area of study called Narrative Education. With another Thinkfinity grant recently awarded to Professor Joan Walker, PhD, the School of Education will be holding the 1st Annual Institute on Narrative Education on June 27–June 30, 2011. This four-day professional development institute for K-12 educators will teach the use of narrative as a means to help educators and students develop a new understanding of themselves and their world and will meet New York State educational standards.