Grades 6-8, High School

The Science of Storytelling

This cross-curricular dream come true sprang from the brilliance of James Harris -with some super-clever use of TV Tropes.org. It’s a delightful, deeply clickable combo of

Science-y Thinking + Story Parts + Tropes + Impact Factor

See the image snippet from Harris’ website (below).  Check it out in all its glory here.
Just come back soon for my list (below) of student-friendly activities for a this table – and related explorations of the Periodic Table of Elements (for chemistry).

Periodic Table of Storytelling James Harris

Using the Periodic Table of Storytelling

Equally at home in ELA or science class and geared for the 6-12 grade range (down-scalable with direct guidance), these activities can be done individually or in groups.

  1. Note the Popularity in Kilowicks for the elements.
    • What is the equivalent in the Periodic Table for Chemical Elements?
    • Find the 10 most popular elements.
    • Why might the top 3 (per kilowicks) have earned their spots?
    • Create a mini-poster (or other campaign element) for another Storytelling element you think should be in the top 3. List five marketing activities you would try to increase your element’s kilowicks.
  2. Spend at least 15 minutes clicking through elements that grab your attention. Read what’s there; get immersed. Now pick 3 and:
    • Write a tweet-length summary to define that element.
    • Write your favorite example of the element (from what you read after clicking through). Explain why it’s a good example.
    • What example would you add? Why?
  3. The periodic table’s columns are called Groups. The elements within each Group share some similar properties. For example, in the Periodic Table of Elements (for chemistry), Group 1 – alkali metals –  are soft enough to be cut with a knife.
    • What is a similar property for the elements of Group 1, Structure, in the Storytelling Periodic Table?
    • List a unifying or similar property for the rest of the Groups in the Storytelling Table. Option:  Make teams to complete the most correct, ‘best’ list. All teams (via consensus with a moderator) must agree on which is the best list to determine the winner.
    • Challenge:  Compare the science & storytelling Group properties. List (or search online for) a main similar property that unifies each Chemistry Group. Compare to the Storytelling Group property list made during the above activity. Determine if the Chemistry Group property in any way matches the property you listed for the corresponding Storytelling Group. Why or how do they each match (or not)?
  4. James offers 10 ‘story molecules’ on his site. In these examples, the elements combined from the table form well-known molecules like Stars Wars, Dilbert, My Little Pony, and Wall-E.
    • Analyze the 10 given examples. Use them to get familiar with how to build story molecules. Option:  Are there any missing or incorrect elements in any of the 10 molecules? Explain the issue and offer a correction.
    • List 10 popular or favorite stories. Use the table to form a molecule for each story. Use at least 3 elements per molecules.
    • Challenge:  Notice the lines and rings used to structure the elements in the Storytelling molecules. In chemistry these connectors are called bonds. Bonds form between elements that combine easily. Some bonds are stronger than others.
      • Pick one of the given molecules. Study its bonds. Are they weak? Strong? Can they form/join easily with many other elements or maybe just a few? How can you tell? Answer specifically, based on what you know about the story parts.
      • Pick 3 elements from the table. Sketch a molecule. Explain why you chose the bonds you used.
  5. Randomly select 5 Storytelling elements. One way to choose:  close your eyes and point to the screen 5 times. Or – have a pal pick five elements for you. Now write (or draw) a story!
  6. What else can be organized with a Periodic Table? Take a stab at designing a table for content you (or your group) know and like well.

I have no affiliation with James Harris – other than as a fan.

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