The Story of Story was a project originally conceived from the student question, "Why was our school named Alvis C. Story Elementary School?" As part of the third grade standards, students study their community. In our community, schools are named after important community figures. So, this student question was a perfect opportunity to combine students' curiosity with the standards. Because no books or websites about Mr. Story existed and Mr. Story had already passed away, students used primary source interviews by inviting Mr. Story's son and daughter to the school. After two interviews, students collectively wrote The Story of Story, brainstorming strong leads and voting on important details to include. The story was published on wikimapia, a website whose tagline is "Let's describe the whole earth." Using satellite imagery of the world and wiki editing, anyone can identify anyplace on earth and describe it. Students found Story Elementary School and we copied their Story of Story into the description. (Click here to go directly to the Story Elementary School entry on wikimapia.)
This work is a strong example of my educational philosophy statement as the students began the inquiry with their own question, developed the interview questions and worked hard to craft a strong synopsis of Mr. Story's life for the broad, authentic audience on the Internet. Students understood that wikis could be updated and changed by anyone and I believe that made them work harder to make sure that their words stayed on the site. Students even have come back to the site with their friends and family and left comments.
This work was the first time I used wiki technology with students. The public aspect of publishing on the Internet is certainly compelling to students, which I had realized when we first completed student digital portfolios. However this project also introduced the dynamic nature of wikis. Students understood that their work could be changed by anyone and they were highly motivated to create the best piece of work they possibly could. Further, they have seen that others have commented on the work which has compelled them to return to the piece over and over to reread. Finally, this work has been the focus of two published journal articles, one about the Language Experience Approach and one about critical literacy. (For more information about my published works, please see my curriculum vitae.)