Presentation Skills? Seriously? (Part Eight)

Article Index

These are: 

1. Point of View – what is the perspective of the author?
2. A Dramatic Question – a question that will be answered by the end of the story.
3. Emotional Content – serious issues that speak to us in a personal and powerful way.
4. The Gift of your Voice – a way to personalize the story to help the audience understand the context.
5. The Power of the Soundtrack – music or other sounds that support the storyline.
6. Economy – simply put, using just enough content to tell the story without overloading the viewer with too much information.
7. Pacing – related to Economy, but specifically deals with how slowly or quickly the story progresses.

When embarking on storytelling learners and their teachers may want to consider McDrury & Alterio’s model of reflective learning . They identify the following steps:

1. Story Finding: identifying what attracts your attention or excites your interest, i.e., the plot, the characters, the setting, etc.

2. Story Telling: making sense of what you have discovered, i.e., understanding character relations, plot twists, action repercussions, etc.

3. Story Expanding: meaning making of what you have identified and relating it to your personal experiences, i.e., similar situations and reactions, character behavior and story moral, etc.

4. Story Processing: working with meaning by identifying different layers, implications, drawing conclusions, making assumptions, etc.

5. Story Reconstructing: transforming and reconstructing the storyline selecting additional information, providing different conclusions or endings, etc.

Digital stories come with an added benefit. As Jenkins and Lonsdale (2007) observe: “The digital nature of these stories makes them ideal for storage and easy retrieval, thus making them available for review at regular intervals to make personal and group development explicit, and become part of an organised collection of evidence of reflection.”

Simply put, they are ideal for inclusion in a learner portfolio offering a wide range of educational and assessment possibilities. Digital Storytelling can be used across the curriculum and the following are just some indicative, though not exhaustive, examples:

Social Studies: Explorers: Tell the story from their perspective.
• Science: Simple machines: How have they changed the world?
• Reading/Language Arts: Take a character to court. Students are the judge, jury, etc.
• Mathematics: Math is all around the town. Really? Where?
• Specials: P.E., Art, Music: History of a sport: How an artist/musician changed the world.

Point of View

What is the perspective of the author? Or simply, put on your coloured glasses and look at the world from a different angle.
This could include recounting of personal experiences, the recounting of historical events from another hero’s point of view, describing how different pieces of equipment work or explaining why they are important.

Tip #1: Accident Story Sample
Ask students to read the following car accident report either on line or in hard copy and answer the question that follow. Depending on the age of the students you may need to explain basic traffic regulations such as “right of way at a cross roads”.


A 16-year-old Springfield man was injured this morning when his car collided with an empty school bus at Thompson Lane and Lindbergh Avenue.

Kevin L. Bowen of 513 Maple Lane died at 7 p.m. at Springfield Hospital, following the accident. He is reported to be in satisfactory condition.

A passenger in Bowen's car, Brad Levitt, 16, was injured. He is in satisfactory condition at the hospital. Also injured was Ruth L. Anderson, 42. She was hurt after Bowen's car and the school bus collided and Bowen's car skidded into hers.

Police said the accident occurred as Bowen attempted to turn left from Thompson Lane on to Lindbergh Avenue. He turned into the path of the school bus, which was headed north on Lindbergh. The bus, driven by Lindell B. Johnson, 24, struck the left side of Bowen's car.

Bowen's car crossed the southbound lane and traveled 54 feet north of the intersection, where Bowen's car struck Anderson's, which was southbound on Lindbergh. Her car was forced off the road and into a ditch, police said.

Police said Bowen's car was destroyed. Damage was estimated at $1,000 for the bus and $250 for Anderson's car.


1. How many people were involved?
2. How many vehicles were involved?
3. Where did the accident take place?
4. What is the basic order of events?

Tip #2: Rewriting from a different point of view.
Ask half the students to rewrite the report in the first person singular, identifying with one of the people involved in the accident. Ask the other half to rewrite the report including as many adjectives/adverbs as possible. Then ask them to exchange reports in pairs or in groups and read them to other members. Encourage comments about the impact the two different approaches have: first person narrative, connotation of adverbs and adjectives.

Tip #3: Auto Accident Report Form
Ask students to read the following form and think of what information is required in each section. Clarify any technical terms as needed. Then ask them to assume the role of one of the people in the accident and complete the form with actual information from the report. They should pay special attention to the last section of the form: “Sketch the Accident Scene”. In particular, they should draw the streets mentioned, include their names, place the vehicles involved and use arrows to indicate movement. Finally, they should use numbers to indicate the sequence of events.


Does the story / question appeal to the heart or to the head? Is the storyteller focusing on the factual or the sentimental aspect of the story? Do the lives, experiences, actions of the characters in a particular story have repercussions for a larger group of people?

Tip #4: Talking about feelings
Ask students to assume the role of one of the following: vehicle driver, parent of one of the drivers, school official and hospital worker. Ask them to get in pairs and prepare a dialogue that would focus on the facts of the story but at the same time show how each person is feeling. Students should focus on what questions they would ask, what advice they would give, what emotions they would show and what emotions they would hide.

Tip #5: Considering the big picture
Ask students to discuss the following question:
“Should 16 year olds be allowed to drive?”
What arguments can they think of in favour or against this question? Which arguments come from the head and which come from the heart? What changes would they make to the report if they were in favour or against the main question?


Latest Issue

October 2018

Supplementary Materials, Do they work? Course books are regarded as the core of teaching materials in the classroom and serve as pivotal role to facilitate the instructors’ teaching in the classroom. Penny...

Read more
© 2017 ELT NEWS. All Rights Reserved.