Intercultural Storyline challenge: Denmark meets Scotland!
Danish teacher trainees using Storyline at Aberfoyle Primary School, Scotland.

Tutored by experienced Storyline educator and head teacher of Aberfoyle Primary School, Carol Anne Omand, we: Anne Mette Linnet and Soren Birk Jensen from Frederiksberg College of Education, Copenhagen, got the chance to plan and teach a three week Storyline in a 3rd/4th form class. We called it "Our village" focusing on the pupils’ local village environment - an important community for everyone living in and around it. The activities concentrated on buildings: what buildings are in this village - and what purpose does each building serve? Apart from extending the pupils´ knowledge and awareness, strengthening their relationship to the village, our aim of the three week project was to present the children with central aspects of teamwork. Therefore we designed activities that made argumentation, compromise and decision making necessary.

Not unlike detectives the Aberfoyle pupils were to gather specific information about their village, finding important details of selected buildings. At the same time excited and concentrated, they came home with a useful resource. "I didn’t know there were that many different buildings here!", one of the children said. The Storyline then entered an imaginative phase setting an individual activity: what building would you wish was here in the village? The ideas were very creative, including a "Better weather building" and a snake shop.

Receiving a telefax from Stirling Council, the highest authority in the area, ("Wow, we received a real telefax !"), the class was transformed into four teams of "Building Constructors" on a contract: each team was to make a new building of their own choice in Aberfoyle, reasoning their choices. Then, the "professional" building process waited ahead: sketching, planning, writing an application form for materials and the concrete construction; model scale buildings made of painted cardboard. The final "Grand Opening" was a big celebration starring the constructors – the new village experts – presenting their work for the teachers and the rest of the class…

Being part of the whole process was fascinating. Not only did the Aberfoyle pupils work hard and focused, showing results as they were learning, they obviously had great fun. And so did we; the stay abroad gave us – two fairly inexperienced students - a unique and very intensive learning experience, not only in teaching Storyline, but also in meeting a different style - of teaching and of life. The differences put our own culture – educational and national – into a wider perspective; we can learn from each other.

Hence, we feel the bottom line of our experience is this:

The Storyline approach gives us the common ground, our different styles give us the challenge… Take it on - you will neither regret nor forget it…

Søren Birk Jensen
Frederiksberg College of Education, Copenhagen, Denmark.