Collaborative Storytelling: Embedded Readings

At iFLT 2019, Michele Whaley shared a way to write bottom-up embedded readings together as a class. While many fun collaborative storytelling methods and strategies involve dramatic participation, I’m always searching for new ways to ask a story that doesn’t involve acting. Michele certainly delivered with this new take on an already very familiar process…

N.B. Michele cautioned that the two most misused practices of Embedded Readings were a) giving away the ending (vs. treating first version(s) like a movie trailer), and b) reading ALL versions the same day. The first is easy to solve: withhold juicy details and twists until the end (which was brought to our attention at least 3 years ago). The second should be easy as well: do activities between each version, each class, getting more mileage out of the whole process!

Embedded Reading Storyasking

  1. Start with the first version of the Embedded Reading via storyasking (e.g. totally from scratch, or writing “_____ wants _____” to get things going), resulting in just 2 sentences.
  2. Then, give 1 minute for students to write additional details (e.g. dialogue, back story, questions, a twist).
  3. Collect, then during planning period, assemble a second, third, and maybe fourth version using all the student details! There will be similarities; just work your magic compiling as many details as you can into a compelling story.
  4. Read Version 2 the next day.
  5. Read Version 3+ the following day(s), with a different activity, then ask for one last detail: the punchline.
  6. Collect, choose a good ending, add to the final version (4 or 5), then read that the last day.

I like how this storyasking has a lot more control (i.e. processing time for YOU to arrange details outside of class), and more students get to see their idea make their way into the class story.

My other posts from iFLT 2019:

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6 thoughts on “Collaborative Storytelling: Embedded Readings

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