Instructional Techniques – Quick Takes – 2

Picking up from yesterday, you’ll recall I had one unfortunate learner act as a victim for the cohort, drawing all the attention that-a-way.  Whew, everyone else sighs.  But no one evades as we go round the room and, if a bit more superficially, dissect each person’s book until everyone knows the method.  And that’s critical because it’s from here we depart.

Remember, the idea of this whole concerto is to ensure learners can get past the first right answer.  One of the most direct ways of using the children’s books is to change the elements, certainly taken for granted as the author envisioned it.  What happens we you look at a problem from a completely new perspective?  So we took some liberties and rewrote the story with some changes.

The ‘hero’ or protagonist in each story would become his/her diabolical opposite.  For instance, little Johnny is transformed from a nice schoolboy to the “Here’s Johnny,” Jack Nicholson character in The Shining.  The gorilla takes on some of the characteristics of King Kong.  Of course, this one change is quite profound – the tale, the moral, the lesson of the story now changes, too.  Moreover, do the relationships – alliances and antagonists emerge?

Now tell us the story as if Stephen King had written it.  Heh, heh.

You had to describe the weather in the original book.  What would happen in the story if the weather becomes a violent storm of significant proportions.  The Wizard of Oz, or Twister.  The main driver of the plot.  How does the book change?  Well, the plot is now driven by a natural and capricious antagonist – capable of any kind of behavior at any time.  How would this affect not only individual characters but how they interact?  Because of the vagaries of the weather will the moral or lesson change – or be shaped differently.

Finally, change the era or location of the story.  Not to the next street over, but to a wildly different environment.  A jungle or the south of France.  Outer space aboard a vehicle hurtling towards an unknown planet.  Or inside a dinosaur nest.  Regardless, struggle to keep to the original plot, but inject the story with a feeling of the place – technical or scientific terms, local slang, and descriptions of appearances, people, and places.  Think ‘Back to The Future.’

Most of the time this happens over 2 sessions, lasting at least 3 hours on consecutive days (with 10 participants).Using those guidelines it’s rare one learner can adjust to all three episodes.  And while the writing needn’t be in finished form, it should be clear enough for the narrator to communicate clearly.

A number of useful results are observed by everyone who participates.  You can imagine how the stories were interpreted by the others – and that is a change too.  In the end, it’s the ability for everyone to see the same reality and then, once viewed from a different lens, the perspective of the entire story can change.  The final lesson – the takeaway – is when you begin your projects, look at the ‘givens,’ the requirements, the parameters, and begin to shape a different way of respecting those constraints but interpreting their meaning and influence quite differently.

In addition, I can safely say, it’s challenging and its fun.


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