Storytelling at EduCon

Here’s a delicious problem for everyone attending EduCon 2.6:

How will you tell the story about this amazing conference you attended in Philadelphia that rocked your world and excited you about changing the way we do education? (or rather, the way students do learning — there’s a difference)

What details will you share? How will you convince other teachers from your school to join you next year?  How will you maintain the conversations that you have started at EduCon with new and old friends?

On Saturday afternoon, during the conversation I led about developing empathy with the world using online maps, I found myself thinking about storytelling.

Several participants were compelled by the way I brought the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case to life using online maps. They empathized with the case in a way they hadn’t before.

Interestingly, that phrase “Brown v Board of Education” has taken on a life of its own.  People know it means the end of segregation, but a lot of people don’t know that the “Board of Education” in question was in Topeka, Kansas:


As a storyteller, I chose a few places to put on my map that I think bring this story to life.  Linda Brown is a little girl who lives at the red pushpin.  She wants to go to school at the school for whites that’s about a quarter mile away from her house (path A).  If she goes to school there, she can easily walk to and from school.

But because of segregation laws in Kansas in the early 1950s, she had to attend the black school, and that route required her to walk to the bus stop (and by the way, that walk required her to cross train tracks), wait at the bus stop in the cold or hot or rainy weather, and then take the bus to the black school.

linda brown

As a US History teacher, I have taught Brown v. Board of Education before, but until I brought it to live using Google Earth — until I made the decision to include these place marks on the map to help my students better empathize with Linda Brown’s plight — my teaching of this seminal moment in US history was a bit abstract. This map helps make it more concrete.  Students who see this map will ask better questions.

By the way, I located Linda Brown’s house by doing some research and finding the court transcript from the case where her father was being questioned by a lawyer:

brown home

It was easy enough to ask Google Earth to find 511 West Fifth Street.  I then had to do  some digging to find the two schools, but that was kind of fun. It further brought Topeka, Kansas to life for me.

And I think ultimately that’s what it’s all about — choosing the poignant details that will gett people to think and reflect and ask better questions — in this case, about Linda Brown’s life.

So what story will you tell about EduCon? What have been your most poignant moments thus far?

Here’s hoping you have some wonderful moments that you can share back home on Sunday, the final day of EduCon 2.6.

About Steve Goldberg

I teach students at Research Triangle High School (RTHS) about US History. RTHS is a public charter school in Durham, NC, whose mission is to incubate, prove and scale innovative models of teaching and learning. The blog posts here reflect my own personal views and not those of my employer.
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One Response to Storytelling at EduCon

  1. beautifully explicated. a clearly understood, descriptive way to inform, while promoting other’s self inquiry and self-educating. thank you

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