Guest Blogger Laura Gatto on The Academy Awards, Story Telling and BrainPOP

Posted by Andrew Gardner on

The Academy Awards are over, and shiny golden oscars are being clutched proudly under the arms of the winners.  Around the globe millions of people watched the show, but why? Is it the glamour and glitz of Hollywood that draws us in? Is it the big budget films and the expert talent that keep us enthralled and wanting more? I think its something more, and the research seems to prove it too!
Movies tell stories. Photographs tell stories. Songs tell stories.  Games tell stories.  Telling stories is core to being human! According to Cognitive Scientists’ Roger Schank & Tamara Berman, we construct and tell stories in part to teach ourselves what we know and what we think. We are mentally wired to construct stories out of our own experiences, and we listen to stories with an innate ability to pull apart details and fill in our memory structures where there may be voids. In essence, our knowledge is constructed of stories in various forms. The more stories we hear and tell, the more expertise we build in those subjects. (Schank & Berman, 2002)
BrainPOP movies tell simple stories that help students understand all sorts of topics, even if the budgets pale in comparison to Hollywood! Our movies are made with the craft and art of storytelling in mind and research has shown abstract principles are better understood when used within the context of a rich and detailed story.
Stories will always be an integral part of our lives, for entertainment, communication, teaching and learning. By incorporating story telling structures into our movies, BrainPOP adds context, meaning and fun to topics is all subject areas. I really enjoyed watching Tim & Moby’s featured movie on Filmmaking during the Oscar commercial breaks!  Consider checking it out with your students – the simple consistent structures of BrainPOP movies, with a dash of charm and occasional slapstick, can inspire student’s to make their own! The process of creating a movie encourages students to show and tell what they know, or have learned in any subject area!

Laura Gatto is currently a M.A. Candidate in the DMDL Instructional Design program at New York University’s Steinhardt School. Mrs. Gatto earned her BFA in Film & Television, from NYU’s Tisch School, where she graduated with honors and went on to pursue a career in video production. Mrs. Gatto has edited, recorded, and directed many full-scale projects most notably a self-produced project, titled “Nurturing Artistic Development in Young Children,” featuring the artist, Peter Max. She continues to work as an independent video producer while exploring the possibilities of new media forms, in particular children’s educational games and apps that provide a modern approach to music education. Mrs. Gatto credits her children, ages four and six, for being an extension to her own education and for being her source of inspiration.