Book: Story Power!

What you will learn from Story Power! Breathing Life into History

Caring teachers + engaging learning experiences = better student behavior + deeper learning

A critical part of creating a safe school climate is helping students find relevance in the curriculum. Meaningful, engaging content and enthusiastic instruction reduce the chances that students will exhibit unacceptable behavior in your classroom.

A prime example is the way we teach social studies, and history in particular. Not every teacher loves history and the same can be said about students. Too many students go through school hating social studies. How much fun is there in memorizing dates and names and making detailed outlines and timelines?

It doesn’t have to be that way. People love a good story. History is fascinating if we think about it as a collection of stories that trace the path people, famous and little known, took as they faced the challenges of life. The choices they made, when considered within the context of the circumstances in which they lived, teach us about human nature, and to consider and understand the perspectives of individuals. If we apply the concepts and understandings we discover in these stories, we will better understand the world, each other, and ourselves. We also learn to apply pro-social skills when we examine a conflict and seek solutions that are non-violent and constructive.

The most effective way to make history come alive with intrigue and relevance is by using the stories primary sources tell. Stories breathe life into history. When students (and teachers) hear something interesting, something they connect to, they pay attention and want to know more. The story can be in a diary, poster, letter, census record, photograph, piece of music, documentary, map, or official report, waiting for us to find it. This book is rich with examples of such materials.

Story Power teaches us how to use these sources to get excited about history so we can teach our students with enthusiasm. It looks at where to find the stories, how to assess the quality of sources, and how to go past the shallow summaries in commercial teaching materials to the real, complicated story below the surface. Emphasis is on creative ways to use the materials to hook students and guide them to high levels of critical thinking and conceptual understanding.

You will also share in my personal journey that began with the discovery of a stack of original letters from two Civil War soldiers and then took me to the true story of their lives, building a friendship with their descendents, and to a more complete understanding of the realities of America during the Civil War.

The book is available online at: including in Kindle format including in Nook Book format

From the publisher, Rowman and Littlefied Education, at including a Google Preview

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