Story Xperiential is a year old now, and to look back on its growth, I spoke with an educator who was a part of the pilot program: Emily Bovey is a teacher in Ontario, Canada and was teaching grades seven and eight when she signed up for Story Xperiential.
Recently, I had the chance to ask her about her experiences, what she learned, and how Story Xperiential impacted her students.
Bill: Prior to your time with Story Xperiential, what did you know about Pixar?
Emily: I knew that Pixar tells fantastic stories through their movies!
Bill: How much did you know about the program when you signed up?
Emily: I knew a little about Pixar in a Box, as a teacher friend of mine used this program in his grade six classroom with much success. I saw how engaging it was for students and knew that Story Xperiential was something that had sort of bridged from that, so I was super excited to see what it was all about.
Bill: What was it like planning and getting your students ready for Story Xperiential?
Emily: To be honest, it was super easy! I’ll admit, being part of the pilot project, I was a little nervous about the start up because I wasn’t too sure how it would roll out for myself and my students. Plus, I’m the type of teacher who likes to be prepared and well-planned. The initial outline that was shared with me gave a general idea, but I wasn’t too sure what everything meant as I read through it.
As we began the program, I quickly realized that it was going to be some awesome learning for not only my students but for me too. I also felt that each week it got better and better in terms of the layout and expectations. There was a week early on where I created a student handout to go with that week’s learning, and then, the following week, the program started including their own handout each week thereafter. This team practices what they preach—they know how to take feedback and run with it!
Bill: How did your students respond to the program? Attitude? Work output? Students with IEPs (Individual Education Plans)?
Emily: Getting the students excited about it was easy—mention “Pixar” and they’re all over it!
My classroom make-up was diverse in terms of learning strengths and needs: I had multiple students with learning disabilities, as well as a sprinkling of very strong students and a couple with behavioural issues thrown in, yet this program engaged everyone! Each day, they were so excited to work together on their stories. I had several students express that their English classes in previous years were so boring and that mine were amazing (thanks, Story Xperiential)!
One student who struggles with reading and writing excelled in this program. She took on a leadership role within her group, took feedback and ran with it, and sat at the table truly engaged, proving one of the main points I felt this program is meant to teach us—that storytelling is something that we all do and that we can all be great at! This student’s confidence soared with this program.
It also really helped me as a teacher to capitalize on the strengths of my students and to see them shine in a class that many have really struggled with and disliked in the past (English language).
Bill: What would you say to a new teacher who’s thinking of joining Story Xperiential?
Emily: Go for it! You will not regret it! I’ll admit that there were days when we really felt the pressures of the deadlines, and I was ready to pull my hair out, but that was another important part of the learning process. This program taught so many real-life skills: meeting deadlines, taking and giving feedback, breaking down the parts of a story, working with others, persevering, having confidence, being open-minded, writing, reading, staying organized, studying media, communicating, listening (like, REALLY listening to others and their different perspectives), the list goes on—if you’re looking for a comprehensive language program, you’ve found it!
The Fall session for Story Xperiential begins October 3rd. Visit StoryXperiential.com for more information about how you can join this incredible learning.
About the Author
Bill is an elementary school teacher in Ontario, Canada. Teaching from grades 3-8 has taught him the importance of engaging a variety of learners. As education continues to evolve, it is important to find new avenues to meet students at their level and show them how their learning is connected to real-world applications.