The Story Pirates education department pairs experienced teachers with talented artists to collaborate with schools and community organizations in creating exciting, dynamic classes covering a broad range of academic topics. Our educational philosophy can be summarized in the following 5 points:
1. Multiple Learning Modalities
We approach every lesson with the idea that students should be able to explore the material in a variety of ways that will play to their diverse strengths, interests, and cultural backgrounds. Many of our teaching artists are also talented theater artists, visual artists, and musicians; we make use of these resources to craft unique yet organic lessons around any academic topic, which not only engage with multiple learning modalities, but are compelling, fun and extremely memorable for students.
Storytelling is perhaps the oldest human method of passing on nuanced information, and indeed it is still one of the most vital ways we begin learning about the world from the very youngest ages. We believe that nothing matches the power of a story to make even difficult material comprehensible and memorable. For this reason, we use interactive storytelling in the classroom, both as a way of teaching certain complex concepts in an approachable manner, and as a way of making lessons into engaging experiential processes, in which students are expected to interact and explore rather than simply listen and absorb information.
3. Student Engagement
We believe that students learn best when they are genuinely invested in the lesson, and thereby are able to engage in an authentic inquiry or creative process. This doesn’t mean that we confine our lessons to topics we know the students already like. Instead, we focus on the following two principles of student engagement:
- No matter what the topic, we must find an exciting, active way to present it that will allow students to discover how it is relevant to their own interests, and motivate them to work hard for their own reasons.
- As educators, we are genuinely fascinated by the words and ideas of young people. We practice a culture of respect for student ideas, and are constantly looking for ways to incorporate the idiosyncratic perspective of individual students into the lesson.
4. Partnership with Schools
We believe that our workshops will be most effective if they fit organically into the learning environment already in place in a particular school. In particular, we focus on the following three methods of aligning our work with the goals of each school, to best ensure that we positively influence student learning even after we have left the classroom:
- Our residencies are designed to align with the Common Core Standards, and to support the work students and teachers are already doing on these standards every day.
- Our residencies are designed to align with the structure, language, and best practices of the writing programs, (and other academic programs), of the schools in which we work.
- We work with administrators and classroom teachers before every program to tailor the residency as much as possible to both the needs and strengths of the students, and the goals and culture of the school.
We are committed to making sure that our work with students will contribute positively to their academic development. We strive to find diverse modes of assessment for our programs, to evaluate whether our goals are being met, and obtain feedback and evidence from all stakeholders that will help us continually to grow and improve as educators.