This week we highlight Jaime Bacigalupo and Ceci Gomez-Galvez from Bayside. They have been nominated for their cross-disciplinary and curricular work in bringing about SIS stories.
What is SIS stories you ask?
It is a platform where students are able to build community and connect with others through storytelling.
The inception started when Jaime attended a couple sessions of the famous “Shenzhen Stories” in 2016.
She was floored by the power of storytelling, so she spent the summer reflecting about how she could bring this theme into her 10th-grade class.
Below are there answers to this innovative student learning.
1. What did you want your students to know or understand?
Jaime: Largely the power of storytelling. Stories have the power to connect us on a human level and while also building empathy and compassion.
Ceci: Our students have been writing personal narratives since the third grade and we wanted them to understand writing and telling stories is more than academics. We wanted all students, especially the quiet ones, to understand this could be a vehicle to share their voice.
2. What skills did you want your students to gain?
Jaime: In terms of the English there were two main components. Frist, the writers’ craft, which consisted of mentor texts, short memoirs, deep reading, and annotations. Also, Stylistic approaches used to reach readers.
Second, was how to express yourself orally. Different mediums require you to express yourself differently. For example, oral presentations are much more casual than formal presentations.
Ceci: We wanted them to show some vulnerability by telling their own story. This, in turn, would allow them to be brave, resilient, and take risks. All things that will help them prepare for their performance tasks in IB Diploma Programme.
3. How did you teach this lesson in the past?
Jaime: There was NO oral piece, it was only written. Additionally, there was no theme to the lesson, it was really quite open.
Essentially it was a narrative snapshot. Although it gave them a lot of flexibility, there was no foundational piece which ran through all of it where we could see same theme branch out in so many different contexts.
Lastly, I was the audience. There was no one else!
4. How did you problem-solve and be creative to come up with this new method for this lesson?
Jaime: One word…collaboration. Not just simply talking about things, but building strong relationships to create systems to improve student learning.
SIS has been the only school where this level of flexibility and autonomy are provided, which make it such a fertile environment for collaboration.
SIS has been the most collaborative environment I have ever been a part of!
Teachers are allotted the time and the flexibility to cultivate this environment. I do not know what I would do if I did not have these elements, it would be like not having air to breathe.
This strong collaboration is a vehicle which has enhanced my teaching more than it has for many years combined.
Furthermore, the collaboration opened up connections even outside of the classroom. Attending Shenzhen Stories had me thinking how I could bring in Trey, founder of Shenzhen Stories.
He came in a ran a workshop and gave strategies on the idea surrounding “page and stage.” Additionally, we created a setting which fostered a sense of community; snacks, signs, and furniture.
Ceci: Yeah, exactly. For me, it was true co-teaching. That Ying to Yang relationship.
Jaime had ideas and I had other ideas and questions. I would ask
How can we make the learning better for our students?
How can we make it more interesting?
How can we share it on a bigger stage?
These questions led us to create SIS stories. Where we combine the power of storytelling, Voice, and interdisciplinary connections.
We already mentioned Trey, but Peter reached out to see how we could incorporate the services to his STEAM students. We started chatting and made the connection that we could use a motherboard which connected letters in the alphabet with buttons that triggered something when touched.
We would record each student’s’ golden lines and take professional pictures. Then we would be able to create posters with sensors where buttons will trigger audio files of the golden lines of the students.
Jaime: It was awesome!
Since the inception of SIS stories, everything has grown organically.
And it keeps growing and everything is falling into place.
We are actually going to collaborate with 5th graders and take our students over to Parkside to mentor them on the experience.
Ceci: What is awesome is the task we started with was for each student had to get up and talk for 5-10 minutes.
That is it!
However, now it has grown into this amazing thing called SIS stories
To think it started with a provocation and text (Persepolis: the story of a childhood) then it connected to the power of storytelling, next student voice, next STEAM, and it continues to grow.
Lastly, I want to mention there are many vehicles for empowerment.
Vulnerability and modeling what you want your students to create are powerful.
Jaime wrote a story herself and told it in front of the students.
This gave them a different perspective and automatically built a sense of community. Students’ were eager to share and also hear the stories of others. It was awesome!
A much different result from reading a mentor text published by an author you do not know or have a relationship with.
Students knew right from the beginning they would have an opportunity to share with an authentic audience of their peers and teachers.
Both: (Sit back and sigh)…Can’t wait to see where this goes next year!
Peters STEAM class: They are looking for new clients to build products for. Contact them if you need anything in terms of design which requires any STEAM elements.