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Story Telling with a Twist

We all like to hear stories and as trainers we have all probably thought about using stories at some time or other to illustrate learning points or to get across complex concepts. I know some of us have already introduced stories into our training with great success. However have your thought about getting your learners to do the story creating and telling for you (great if you are not so comfortable telling stories yourself or if you think that you don't 'tell a good story').

So here's the twist. Next time learners are staring to uncover new learning and you feel they need to consolidate the learning, instead of you devising new ways to encounter the new learning why not challenge them with creating a story that illustrates what they have just learned?

So how is it done?
Ask learners to form teams of 3-4 learners and let them know that you want them to create a story that illustrates what they have just learned.
You can offer them the following guidelines for creating their story (I put them on a flip chart on the wall as a plan).

How to create your story
Step 1 - Set the scene: Establish the time, place and circumstance (e.g. "A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away a rebellion has formed against an evil Galactic

Step 2 - Begin the journey: i.e. define the task that has to be accomplished

Step 3 - Introduce the characters

Step 4 - Encounter the Obstacles: i.e., identify that which might impede progress

Step 5 - Overcome the obstacles

Step 6 - Make the point

Step 7 - Conclude: i.e., apply it to the learning lesson

An example story a team of learners might create after experiencing the need for goal setting Once upon a time in a classroom not dissimilar to this one, we observed a skilful facilitator (step 1), explaining the difficulties that can be faced when we don't identify and set specific goals (step 2). To illustrate the point he selected 3 volunteers (step 3). He said to the first volunteer, a shy young man, "your task is to throw as many screwed up pieces of newspaper as you can into this waste-paper bin" (step 4).

The young man complied and after a minute the facilitator said, "Had enough", the young man said yes and sat down. The facilitator counted the number of paper balls in the waste-paper bin.

To the second volunteer, the facilitator said "Ok, it's the same task for you with 21 to beat" (step 5). The volunteer started her task and after 1 minute had achieved 29.

To the third volunteer, the facilitator said, "You have seen what your colleagues have achieved. What do you think you can do in the same time?"

"I can beat both of those scores" said the third volunteer.

After 1 minute the third volunteer had managed to score 33 paper balls in the waste-paper bin.

"That's not fair" said the first volunteer, "you didn't give me the rules."

"That's not fair" said the second volunteer, "you didn't give me any choice."

"It was perfectly fair" said the third volunteer, "I know what I had to do and the time I had to do it. Not only that, but I said what target I thought I could meet. I set myself the highest target of all and I achieved it" (step 6).

How many of us are asked to achieve a task without being involved or fully understanding 'the rules'. What greater accomplishments might we make if allowed to set our own targets (step 7).

Call to Action:
Rather than spending the time creating stories for your learners, have your learners create them and tell them to the group to emphasize the learning points and discoveries they have made during their workshop.

Try it as a close for an entire workshop or as part of the practice phase of the learning cycle.

Thanks to Doug Constant in the Training-Ideas listserv for sending us this article in the Tips for Trainers newsletter. Subscription Information: Send a message with JOIN in the subject line.



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