Virtual Storytelling Experience connects MPS students and First Stage, MPM.

Published by Danae Davis, Executive Director of Milwaukee Succeeds

By Gaye-Lynn Clyde Milwaukee Public Museum 
Distance Learning Coordinator and Julia Magnasco First Stage Education Director.

Last week, three of Lois Ehlert's most famous stories came to life with a Virtual Storytelling Experience (VSE) for MPS students. A collaboration between Milwaukee Succeeds,The Milwaukee Public Museum and First Stage made it all possible. 

First Stage is a national leader in storytelling, specifically for young people and their families. Having the opportunity to learn from stories, interact and play with stories, and become fully immersed in stories helps students deepen personal connections to the content, strengthen language and comprehension skills, and build empathy. The VSE with MPM and Milwaukee Succeeds has allowed First Stage to explore new ways to engage students in the power of story, and provide teachers and students the chance to actively participate in an arts integrated learning experience together. 

Gaye-Lynn Clyde (MPM), Sheri Williams Pannell
and Julia Magnasco (First Stage)
"Students LOVED the workshop," said one teacher. "They believed that the presenters were talking to them and watching them. It was awesome!"

In Mole’s Hill, students transformed into “teeny, tiny, little seeds” which were cared for by the teachers who “sprinkled” them with soil, water, and just enough sunshine to become big beautiful flowers. In Moon Rope, students got to stomp and sing along as they went on a fox hunt, looking for one particular fox that wanted the moon just for himself. While “swimming” through rivers and using their manners to pass by on a grumpy troll’s bridge, children were engulfed in the story. They were engaged physically through the actions, but also had opportunities to discuss solutions to problems they faced on their “journey.” Finally, Cuckoo embraced the importance of beauty coming from the inside. In between the performances were moments for students to learn about real-world applications of the problems characters faced in the stories. Shown through pictures of the exhibits at the Milwaukee Public Museum, students were given an opportunity to make concrete connections of communities coming together.
First Graders at Hopkins Lloyd Elementary School
enjoy the Virtual Storytelling Experience

Virtual Storytelling Experience supports the Milwaukee Succeeds Transformative Reading Instruction (TRI) model by providing professional development and support to teachers in the art of engagement through creative interactivity and play, while their students receive amazing experiential opportunities that increase vocabulary and comprehension through authentic stories. Because the Virtual Storytelling Experience connects directly to each classroom via video streaming it allows for many classes to participate simultaneously. The teachers facilitate activities within their own classes, providing everyone the opportunity to be engaged at the same time. And, Milwaukee Succeeds experiential network group can bring rich content to many more teachers and students to help improve literacy in Milwaukee through the TRI model!

The Virtual Storytelling Experience provides students and schools an opportunity to engage in valuable experiences that may not have been possible otherwise. Field trips to the museum or theater may be costly or difficult for schools. This budget-friendly alternative doesn’t skimp on the fun. The VSE served  28 teachers and more than 1,003 students. With this collaboration, still in its early stages, with positive feedback and continuous improvement we hope to continue expanding this great opportunity, providing as many children access to theater arts and living history as possible.

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