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Using Story Telling As a Tool

Do you remember the alligator from elementary school math class?  In case you don’t remember (or you weren’t exposed to it), here is a refresher:

To remember how to write the expression for one number being greater than another, think of a hungry alligator that wants to eat the larger number because it is bigger.  Therefore, if the two numbers in the expression are 3 and 2 the expression will be written as 3>2, with the alligator mouth open to eat the 3.

After being taught this roughly twenty years ago, I still think of this when I see a similar expression.  And next time someone asks you to write a similar expression I can guarantee you will remember the alligator.  That is because the hungry alligator tells a story.  Remembering math equations is boring.  Remembering a silly story like the hungry alligator is amusing.

If you give your lessons stories with characters, attributes and purpose, you are bound to make a larger impression on your learners and the lesson becomes more memorable.  The goal of learning is retention and retention is much greater when the learner is involved and motivated.  So, next time you are creating a new course, think about adding a hungry alligator.

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