Fighting Writer's Block:

AT consultants share methods for helping students construct narratives

By Vanessa Eisch
Engage Staff

Diermyer and Blakesley presenting

Whether it's hearing grandpa's tales of growing up during the Depression or developing table manners after reading the Berenstain Bears, we learn through stories.

"Stories are a mode of effective communication with a creative flair. They are a valuable teaching tool, providing context for solving difficult problems," explains DoIT Academic Technology consultant Cheryl Diermyer.

Diermyer and fellow AT consultant, Chris Blakesly, presented a number of methods for constructing a narrative at October's Engage Digital Media Assignments (DMA) event.

Diermyer presenting

The pair offered a number of story structure models and explained how these models can guide students who are lost in the writing process.

Their audience included UW faculty and staff who are currently working with or plan to work with students on digital media assignments. People like comparative literature and legal studies professor Ralph Grunewald who received a 2010 Engage Digital Media Assignment Award.

Last fall, Grunewald asked his students to turn a research paper on the juvenile justice system into a short documentary. The task required students to identify key points and weave them together through storyboarding.

Blakesley presenting

Engage's DMA events give UW faculty and staff an opportunity to share ideas and discuss challenges and solutions related to teaching and learning with digital media.