Monday, December 4, 2017

Story Slam Winners Announced


The Vol State Storytelling Project held a first for the college- a Story Slam competition. And here are the winners:

1- Evan Decker for “The Grandfather and the Chainsaw” – SPCH 103 A01 (Honors)

2- Abigail Vance for “Pinewood: The crowds, the coffee, and the celebrities” – SPCH 1010 010

Storytelling Project co-directors, Shellie Michael and Sheri Waltz, have more on the competition:

The SERS grant project gives students a wider audience for an assignment in some SPCH 1010 and SPCH 103 courses at Vol State: the Storytelling Speech, a short personal narrative about a meaningful life event. The project enhances storytelling pedagogy, the role of storytelling in our Speech curricula, and students’ public speaking abilities.

Online and on-ground students share their work by posting videotapes of their Storytelling speech online. Students in each class section watch each other’s speeches and vote for winning stories in various categories. The winners advance to inter-class competition, and outstanding presentations receive prizes. Students can participate in the competition entirely online, though the project may include an opportunity for winners to tell stories and/or receive recognition at an on-campus event, offered in conjunction with Vol State’s Office of Student Life & Diversity in Spring. Students who don’t usually get to participate in on-campus events, especially online students, can participate in the online Story Slam events (in their classes and in the inter-class finalists’ round) as spectators and competitors.

Engagement has a positive impact on students’ college success. In particular, at-risk students “need validation that not only are they capable of succeeding in college, but that they belong on campus as well” (“Moving Beyond Access: College Success for Low-Income, First-Generation Students,” The Pell Institute for Opportunity in Higher Education, 29). Storytelling provides validation as well as engagement. Through this speech, students can experience a heightened sense of belonging since their diverse backgrounds are celebrated. Many students often fear that they do not belong at college because of experiences they perceive as setting them apart from others. The process of sharing shows students that though struggles are unique to each individual, other students have wrestled with difficulties, and often the same kinds of challenges. Learning about one another, students find commonalities and forge connections, share similarities and celebrate differences. Together, they reflect on turning points in their lives, whether hardships or lessons learned, or joyful or comic incidents. Students feel valued because their classmates have emotional responses to their stories. Storytelling builds students’ self-assurance and skills, and it also creates tighter bonds.

-Shellie Michael and Sheri Waltz

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