StoryMaps in the Classroom

The StoryMap I created included all of the places I’ve lived. I almost didn’t want to start that map because I didn’t really feel as though I had lived very many places; however, plotting all of the places where I’ve lived showed me that I’ve lived in more places than I originally thought. I didn’t finish my map. I mostly just plotted points on the map and gave them titles. For some points, I gave exact addresses, for others I used just cities. My plan was to just let this map exist as something fun that I did in class, and that was all.

I see a lot of potential for using StoryMaps in the secondary classroom. It was fairly easy to use and also fun. I recently had an experience with making a Google Trek for one of my other classes, and honestly, I enjoyed working with StoryMaps more. Google Trek is limited into what you are able to do. You can find places, sure, but you’re stuck with the default Google Map. I like that StoryMaps allowed you to customize the maps, fonts, pictures, etc. StoryMaps format is also beneficial because it keeps the map on the left with the information for each point on the right.

I can easily imagine creating a StoryMap for my students to explore to gain some historical context for a novel. Students would have some kind of work to do along with going through the map, but the StoryMap would be a fantastic alternate to a lecture. It would be a more interactive way for students to engage with the context. Students could also be given an assignment to discover the information on their own and insert it into a StoryMap.

Using StoryMaps isn’t just limited to making maps of places. Students could create narratives, arguments, etc. StoryMaps creates the possibility to study literature and English/Language Arts outside of just the expected reading and writing. Students could create narratives in a way that isn’t the traditional writing assignments. For students who may be reluctant writers, StoryMaps provides an alternative way for them to engage with Narrative writing.

Considering my plan to eventually use StoryMap in the classroom, it is important to consider how a map about a novel might change the way a novel is read. In a classroom, I think it might make it easier for students. In novels like The Alchemist where the character’s travels are central to the novel, creating a StoryMaps might help them understand and visualize what is happening in the book. Visualizing is an important piece for reading comprehensions, and tools like StoryMaps can aid students’ comprehension. In that way, StoryMaps could change the way students read a novel in a good way.

StoryMaps was a lot of fun to work with in class. But even more than being fun, it could be a valuable tool to use in my future classroom. It could be used to gain knowledge about the text or even for students to create their own stories. I think that should be the point of tools used in the Digital Humanities world. Not all of them have to be fun, but they don’t all have to be utilitarian either. Tools like StoryMaps provide another level that we are able to study when studying the humanities, which is the whole point. And I have to be honest, I think it’s exciting.

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