The fictional story of Trevor Cool came to life for students at McKenna Elementary School in the Massapequa School District, as they took part in an interactive storytelling experience.
Cory Levine of Submerge Storytelling transformed a classroom by filling it with maps, illustrations, toys and other props. Instead of reading them the story, Mr. Levine would pose questions about possible plot developments to the children and have them go through the room to look for evidence. Armed with clipboards, they wrote down their observations before gathering together to discuss their findings.
Over the course of the week, the story unfolded for the children. They searched for hidden keys and cracked secret codes. The purpose of the experience was to teach students about the different elements of a story and show them the importance of using evidence to back up their arguments.
“It’s authentic learning,” second-grade teacher Mary Fusco said of the program, which she described as a hands-on way to build reading comprehension skills. “This is really the way it should be.”
The room was designed with both simple and complex clues, so students of different ages and learning abilities could succeed.
Levine explained that in his made-up story about a middle-school student who breaks codes for the CIA, the children also learn about positive traits including friendship, loyalty and work ethic. Throughout the year, he will be working with students in several other elementary schools in the district.