A short history of Storyline in Germany

At the end of the 70s and in the early 80s course tours were presented in Gütersloh, Rheindalen, Münschen-Gladbach and Berlin at the invitation of the Service Children's Education Authority.

Larger imageIn 1979, as part of the exchange partnership between Jordanhill College and the University of Hamburg, I was a visiting lecturer for one month. During that time lasting friendships were made with staff and students. The Topic Work being presented on courses in Hamburg became known as 'Die Methode Glasgow' because of an article written by Dr Ulf Schwänke, one of the exchange partners. This was an accidental title since it was only included at the request of the editor and was supposed to be changed before publication. This title is still commonly used in parts of Germany to describe this approach.

Another tutor involved in the exchange was Dr Beate Grabbe who has been an enthusiastic exponent of the method since the early 80s, as an assistant at the University in Hamburg, as a tutor in the I.P.T.S. in Pinneberg, as a headteacher in Wedel and more recently as a senior tutor in the Institüt for Lehrerfortbildung in Hamburg. Over recent years Storyline courses have been presented annually to whole year groups (120 to 150 students) at her Institute. 'Die Methode Glasgow' is regularly used as a special study by many students and is now supported by a wealth of printed articles, magazines and papers in the German language.

At the invitation of Dr Eckhard Kohls of the Institüt für Praxis und Theorie in Schule (I.P.T.S.) in Schleswig-Holstein annual Storyline courses, supported by The British Council, were given annually in the 80s. Lesley Dunlop, a headteacher in a Glasgow school was involved as a tutor on at least one of these visits.

As part of this programme, in the mid-80s, Ian Barr, at that time an evaluator with the Scottish Consultative Committee on the Curriculum was invited by the British Council to visit a course in Ahrensburg to produce a report. This course evaluation, when published, proved to be extremely valuable to both tutors and participants since it gave, for the first time, an objective view of the course design and a theoretical description of the methodology.

Click for larger imageThe connection with Schleswig-Holstein is still very active and there are many educators in that State who are now using aspects of the approach in their daily classroom work and as tutors. Gisela Schulz-Steinbach, an adviser in language teaching, for example, is using Storyline to help primary teachers introduce second language teaching at the early stages of the school. She helps to edit a Language Teacher's journal - FF - which regularly includes articles about Storyline.

One of the most intriguing courses organised by friends in the I.P.T.S. was one held in Drosedow, Mecklenberg vor Pommeren in October 1990 very soon after German re-unification. This was a course for teachers of English. The practical design of the course and the recommended methodology were so totally different from what had gone before that course members had difficulty in accepting that this form of practice would be acceptable in the formal school system.

Link to websiteJordanhill Campus of the University of Strathclyde also has an exchange arrangement with the Pädagogische Hochschule in Freiburg and Dr. Klaus-Dieter Fehse, Professor of Linguistics, and Doris Kocher, an assistant in that department, have made a special study of Storyline in order to adapt it for second language teaching in Realschule. This is proving to be a very innovative and interesting ongoing development.

Click for book detailsAt the time of writing they are engaged on researching methods of evaluating and assessing pupils' performance when using Storyline for second language teaching. In 1999 Doris Kocher published a book entitled Das Klassenzimmer als Lernwerkstatt, Medien und Komminikation im Englischunterricht nach der Storyline-Methode. In May 2001 a two-day Symposium was held in the PH Freiburg as a culmination of a research project which used Storyline for teaching English as a second language and Simulation Globale, a similar approach developed in Paris, for teaching French.

Dr Ulf Schwaenke larger imageAs early as 1979 Dr Ulf Schwaenke, then working as an assistant professor in Hamburg University, came into contact with Storyline through an exchange partnership with Jordanhill College. At that time he became interested in what this ‘Methode Glasgow’ had to offer as an approach to teaching in a holistic way. He spent quite some time with the Inservice Staff Tutors and in visiting teachers and schools in the area and also participated in one of the Storyline courses for teachers. What impressed him most deeply was the experience that teachers who had taught in a very traditional and authoritarian way for many years not only had changed their methods but also their attitudes towards the pupils and towards teaching as a profession as a result of the staff development courses. In that same year Steve Bell and John MacBeath were both visiting lecturers to the Faculty of Education in Hamburg. A number of contacts were made that led to publishing first articles on Storyline in German (see below).

Larger imageLater Ulf visited Glasgow several times in the 80s and 90s to revive his knowledge of the educational approaches developed in Scotland. Over his career development, as he moved from university to adult education and later to the commercial world, he has attempted to adapt Storyline for use with his target audience whether they are engaged in business or in education.  In recent years he has been very active in recording his experience and his philosophy through his publications.  As can be seen from the news items below he is now not only active in extending his writing but also in actively engaging educators through presenting at conferences and courses. He is an enthusiastic member of the European Association for Educational Design and has presented at the International Storyline Conferences in Elsinore and Glasgow.

Harkness-Moodie, S.C.: Wir lesen ein Kinder-Taschenbuch. Basteln und Werken im Literaturunterricht der Grundschule. In: Balhorn, H. et al. (Hrsg.): Sprachunterricht 2 – 4. München 1981, S. 85 – 100.
Rendell, F./Bell, S.: Warum „epochaler Gesamtunterricht“? In: Tymister, H. J. u.a. (Hrsg.): Deutschunterricht 5 – 10. München 1980, S. 156 – 172.
Schwänke, U.: Die exemplarische Anwendung schulischer Lehr-Lern-Verfahren in der Lehrerausbildung. In: Tymister, H.-J. et al. (Hrsg.): Deutschunterricht 5 - 10. München 1980, S. 192 - 207.

German page NEWS Articles - latest at the top

New German book German Page
Bookby Ulf Schwänke
This is the first booklet of a series called ‘Storyline practical’. The idea behind it is to supply teachers with a few designs of learning units. So those who read the formerly published book ‘Die Storyline-Methode’ (also by Ulf) now have a supplement for their teaching practice. The book contains a short introduction to the Storyline method, the topic outline for ‘The Fire Brigade’ and additional information useful for the learning process.
The book was published in January 2007 by Auer Verlag.

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Staff Development Course
in a German Special School German Page
20 January 2007
The Schule am Schillerzentrum in Cuxhaven is a special school for mentally handicapped children. Participating in a Comenius project some teachers had been invited to Denmark a few months ago. There they got to know the Storyline approach and became immediately enthusiastic. So they wanted to know more about this way of teaching and learning. On the internet they discovered the Storyline-book written by Ulf Schwänke and asked him over to run a course for the whole staff.

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Story and Storyline live
in Hamburg, Germany German Page
Dr. Christoph Edelhoff, Chairman
At the end of May, teachers and teacher trainers for English in comprehensive schools from all over Germany assembled at the Hamburg State Institute for Education for their annual three-day meeting, this time to explore the potential of story, narration and the creative use of literature in the foreign language classroom.  The group representing a minority of schools amongst a basically tri-partite selective school system has made itself a name in communicative language teaching in the last 30 years. Delegates were eager to focus on classroom tactics and good practice in the middle of a national debate that is mainly focusing on standards, evaluation and quality control.
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Retirement party of Dr Eckhard Kohls German Page
Leader of IQSH Neumünster, Schlwesig-Holstein
Dr Eckhard KohlsDr Eckhard Kohls who was responsible for organising the first Methode Glasgow (later Storyline) courses in Germany during the 1980s retired on Friday 13th January. At his retirement party held in the Kulturzentrum Marstall in his home town of Ahrensburg, his family, friends and colleagues gathered to pay tribute to an extraordinary educationalist. Steve Bell first met him in 1979 at the University of Hamburg where Eckhard was a doctor student and Steve a visiting lecturer. When Eckhard was appointed as leader of the Grund und Hauptschule department of the IPTS (Institute for Practice & Theory in Schools) Ahrensburg in 1982 his centre became a regular base for 'Methode Glasgow' courses. As he moved on to IPTS Ammersbek in '86 and then to IPTS Neumünster in 1994 the warm relationship continued. Eckhard developed his own special interest in Lernenwerkstatt – landscape for learning which encouraged learning by sharing knowledge and experience. This involved students in self-evaluation, giving feedback to others and acting as 'critical' friends. He will be sadly missed at the IQSH but already he is chairing the planning group of the Marstall Cultural Complex in which we met where I am sure his organisational skills will be greatly appreciated. We wish him a long and happy retirement.

New German Storyline Book by Dr Ulf Schwaenke German page
Larger imageDr Ulf Schwaenke larger imageThe author first came into contact with Storyline in the early 80s as an exchange partner from Hamburg University to Jordanhill College of Education in Glasgow. He became very inerested in how it could be adapted for use in adult education and has been using it successfully in his own work since then. Although the author of many articles on the subject this is the book he has been planning to write for many years. It is a book based on experience and practice. In it he has included:

1. an introduction to the storyline method,
2. a report on how it looks to a visitor to a school where the
approach is used,
3. some principles of the pedagogy behind the approach,
4. a guideline for developing a storyline on ones' own,
5. an overview over a variety of techniques used in storyline-teaching,
6. some ideas on evaluating the outcomes, and
7. some brief remarks on the theoretical backgrounds.

Ulf describes this book as being written by a practitioner for practitioners. He has included In chapter 8 a bibliography. In chapter 9 there are sample outlines of four Storyline topics.

Storyline Tour of Germany Germany page
Gallery of ImagesGisela Ehlers who is based in the IQSH Neumünster (a teacher training institute) is an experienced tutor and adviser on the teaching of English in primary and secondary school in Germany. Over many years she has been adapting ideas from the Storyline approach for this work. As a prolific author and editor she has produced many articles about her experiences, encouraging teachers to use this contextual process.

Gallery of ImagesTo develop this work and supported by several of her publishers including Domino, Spectra and Schroedel/Diesterweg Gisela invited Steve Bell to join her on a course tour in several German States. Over the period 2nd to 10th May workshop courses were presented in Halle (Sachsen Anhalt) , Hamburg, Dresden, Burg Altena, near Dortmund (Nord Rhein Westfalen), and in Neumünster (Schleswig-Holstein). The teachers involved responded with great enthusiasm and interest which we hope will be translated into excitement and success in the classrooms. As there were participants from primary schools as well as from secondary schools it was highly interesting that both groups see the method as a help in the transmitting process.
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New Book by Beate Grabbe (in German) Germany page
Larger imageDr Beate GrabbeDr Beate Grabbe is well-known to many Storyline practitioners as a very experienced teacher, former headteacher, lecturer, educational psychologist and author. I have had the pleasure of working together with her on many Storyline courses which she organised in Hamburg and Pinneberg. She was also responsible for organising the Golden Circle Seminar of the European association for Educational Design in Hamburg in 1996. In this book "Dennis: 'Here I am the class fool!' " she introduces several case studies based on 'difficult pupils'. This is done in a very lively form by using a 'script' technique. The classroom situations are brought to life and the problems confronted and discussed. Illustrations also give a valuable insight to the pupil's thinking.
ISBN 3-403-03746-0 Published by Auer Verlag
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New Silver Circle Germany page
Following on from many years of adapting and successfully developing Storyline for use in second language teaching in Germany, Prof. Dr Klaus Dieter Fehse and Doris Kocher of the PH Freiburg are in the process of forming a Silver Circle for teachers with such an interest in Germany.

Storyline Book from Germany Germany page
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This is the second book in a series written by Doris Kocher for German teachers of English as a second language. 'Our Farm' is a Storyline designed for use with 'Klasse 5/6'. Publishing details can be found by clicking on the illustration.

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Storyline Paper in New German book Germany page
Larger imageKlaus Dieter Fehse and Doris Kocher have written a chapter entitled 'Storyline projects in a foreign language classroom' in this new publication. The book is dedicated to one of their close colleagues Eckhard Rattunde,
ISSN 0177-2805

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