The other day in class I was setting up a story with the class taking my time with some of the details. I decided to see what would happen if I just kept adding details. The students were into it for a while and they had fun creating their little donkey named “Cacahuate” who always ate beans and was secretly hated by the mom in the family. However, there came a certain point where we needed to move the story forward in order to keep the attention of all the students. If there is no drama in the story then the students have a void and feel like the story is a bunch of random facts. It must have that drama to make it suspenseful.
I really feel that the reason for this is because of the prediction element in stories. Think about it, we are constantly predicting what will happen in life. Sometimes we are right and other times we are surprised by the outcome, but it is this element of prediction that keeps things alive. It is also necessary for the brain to keep processing what is happening as it constantly reviews the facts that are in the story. We need this element of prediction in our stories or the students will drift into the unknown fog of daydreaming.
Some ways that we can bring prediction into the story is through drama, emotion, a problem, conflict between two characters, or something that causes a sense of uneasiness about the future. With this in mind, the stories will begin to sail and forge the way for more details which provide the opportunity for personalized information from the students. This combination of drama with details will make the storytelling experience more meaningful, but one without the other causes students to find something else that will keep their attention, a common tragedy in our schools today. If anyone has the opportunity to help students find meaning, it is definitely us.