With the emphasis on teaching for exams and preparing for inspections increasingly evident, the age-old art form of storytelling is showing signs of decline in British classrooms. Whilst helping children to achieve top results is important, it’s also crucial that we don’t sacrifice the innovation and freedom that comes with this powerful learning tool.

Despite its name, storytelling isn’t as simple as reading a story out loud. Instead, it incorporates rich language, physical movement, imagination, emotion and conceptualisation in order to reveal key details and turn words into visual imagery, also integrating collaboration as a means of encouraging input from students. This format of teaching is so valuable that there are even Storytelling Schools that focus on using it as a springboard for learning, assisting students to master both language and subject content.

What’s more, storytelling doesn’t just apply to reading and writing. By using it to engage students and welcome participation, it can be put into practice across the entire curriculum, even in subjects that traditionally lack narratives, such as maths and science. Whilst it can be tricky to perfect this method, it’s very easy to begin delivering it in your classes – all you need to do is explore ways to make topics more exciting and demonstrate how facts, figures and information can be linked to one another.

If you need a little guidance, here are some tips for creating impactful stories that children will enjoy and remember:

  1. Build a strong series of core elements that are at their most effective when in a specific order, leaving room for queries and creativity.

  2. To get students invested in a story, you must show your own excitement and passion from the start and throughout.

  3. Metaphors and creative license add value to a story, providing they don’t disrupt the flow or obscure the facts.

  4. Rather than a non-stop string of statements, include the occasional question and invite the class to finish some sentences that revolve around previously learned themes.

  5. Modulate your voice, make regular eye contact and use gestures to bring the subject matter to life.

  6. As with any story, there should always be an ending that sums everything up and provides food for thought.

  7. If possible, set a task for children to write their own mini story at the end of a lesson or module, as this will allow them to show their understanding and express individual perspectives.

  8. Most importantly, make it fun and memorable, as this will support your students in retaining the fundamental details that they need for exams and life alike.

If you still need convincing that storytelling is at the foundation of all information, pick up a newspaper, go to a favourite blog, log onto your social media channels, watch TV or simply ask a friend how their day was. You’ll soon see that people don’t simply list the particulars without adding visual triggers and expressive vocabulary. And if we as adults use storytelling on a daily basis, it seems only logical and fair that teachers champion its implementation in the classroom too.

Do you use storytelling in your classes already? Share your tips with us on social media by tagging in #TeachNorthWest.