Welcome to Meridian Stories
About Meridian Stories
Meridian Stories is a nonprofit organization that is based in Freeport, Maine.
Meridian Stories offers one of the most comprehensive catalogues of creative Digital Storytelling Projects in the world (we haven’t found any singular source as extensive!). The over 140 Projects on offer in the Library of Projects ask the students to research, create, develop and produce curricular-driven stories. We’re glad you found us. Now explore.
Educational Innovation: The Six Value-Added Centers of Learning
Meridian Stories takes the basic educational module – the classroom curricular unit – and amplifies its worth through the layering of six value-added centers:
- Collaboration and Competition – The value of teamwork and collaborative learning experiences is well documented. Less understood is the educational value of competition to spur students to perform to the best of their abilities. And yet some of the most respected educational programs in the country – Model UN, Odyssey of the Mind and Science Olympiad – rely on competition as the catalyst for high achievement. Competition, when crafted inside of a friendly spirit, can motivate kids to excel and this notion is an integral part of the engine that drives Meridian Stories.
- Transmediation – This refers to the re-interpretation of an idea, concept or story from one medium to another. This act of translating knowledge from text into digital media requires both substantive and creative understanding from the students, as well as increases their visual and digital literacy skills.
- Digital Communication – There are now two dominant literacies in education: print-based literacy and digital literacy. With each new day, digital media emerge as a stronger and more potent conveyor of information and knowledge. For students, the need to effectively communicate through digital media creation becomes more paramount. Meridian Stories challenges students to explore the vast array of visual, audio and print tools available in order to communicate ideas clearly and evocatively.
- Immersive Learning – This educational approach has many labels and many adherents. Two examples: ‘Challenge Based Learning Environments’ championed by Apple in Education and Project-Based Learning (PBL), championed by the Expeditionary Learning Schools systems. Meridian Stories, Apple and Expeditionary Schools all share the same belief: students connect more deeply with the content when learning in an immersive environment.
- Authentic Learning – This phrase generally refers to real-world learning situations. While many Meridian Stories Challenges actively correlate to the local community, they are not all contextualized in the real world. But they are all evaluated by the real world: media and education professionals, including producers, scientists, writers and teachers, providing students with feedback from beyond the classroom walls.
- Narrative Learning – Very few educational programs insist on looking at academic content through a narrative lens. And yet all educators know that stories are the best means of effectively communicating information and knowledge. Why? Because stories make meaning of our experience. Storytelling is not only a teacher’s tool: it is a skill that students must learn for themselves. That is why the theories of Narrative Learning shape every Meridian Stories activity.
Objectives and Aspirations
THE MISSION STATEMENT
Meridian Stories’ mission is “to prepare students for the 21st century workplace by providing opportunities to collaborate, create, problem solve and lead in the development and production of meaningful digital narratives that address curricular goals.”
The purpose of Meridian Stories is to provide students and teachers with digital media arts opportunities that support the curriculum, enrich learning, and catalyze new interests and creativity. Specifically, the objectives are:
- to provide students with media-creation opportunities, as mentored by adults, that allow them to collaboratively explore vital issues — personal, global and educational — in ways that take full advantage of their digital capacities; and
- to provide teachers with a digital tool that can tap the continually growing power of the new digital literacy — including social media — for traditional, educational ends.
Meridian Stories takes the creative, digital energy of kids today and provides them with a thoughtfully scaffolded and educationally substantive framework to release that energy.
THE ASPIRATIONS: THE PROBLEM, THE SOLUTION
Meridian Stories is designed as a tool to help clear some of the intractable congestion that lies at the intersection of youth, digital technology and schools.
The problem is this: How do we get youth, ages 11 – 18, to channel the massive, daily energy that is expended online away from simple extensions of their social lives and toward deeper explorations of their selves and the critical issue that surround them? The digital resources at their disposal to explore personal, communal, global and educational topics are without compare in the history of education. But the youth are not being guided, on a consistent and sustained basis, in ways to use these inimitable resources toward ends that advance social responsibility, global awareness, communal participation and educational mastery. Why? Because many in the generation ahead of them don’t know how.
But that same generation of teachers and after school leaders do have experience, maturity, post-graduate education, and many other assets that the youth really need to grow, learn and develop in positive ways.
Meridian Stories was partially developed as a response to the realization that there aren’t many vehicles out there whereby experienced adults direct youth inside of a digital media arena. This is because many adults don’t have the experience in digital media. But they do have the experience in questions around ‘ethics, civic engagement and morality’ and with that experience, can help students craft their digital skill set to address those issues.
Meridian Stories aspires to be a common place where teachers can apply their expertise inside of the new digital literacies in which students excel.
Meridian Stories begins with story — personal, mythical, comic, tragic — and makes it the primary structure by which students and teachers, from different regions, connect, engage and learn with each other.
Why story? At the 2009 ‘Games for Change’ conference in New York City, I heard Nicholas Kristof, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist for the NY Times, comment about the importance of personal stories as the best means to connect people to each other and to issues. To illustrate his point he said, “One death is a tragedy, millions are a statistic.”
Consider the power of The Diary of Anne Frank. One reason this is such a seminal book in education is because her personal story gives us access to an experience that is otherwise inaccessible. Stories, so often, open the door to understanding.
Today’s kids have stories to tell as well. But they want to tell them differently. Meridian Stories is a tool that allows them to do that.
Check Out the Book
Brett Pierce, the Founder and Executive Director of Meridian Stories, puts digital storytelling into your hands in his new book from Heinemann, Expanding Literacy: Bringing Digital Storytelling into Your Classroom.
How can we make meaningful, thoughtful digital storytelling a standard, best practice in schools? Expanding Literacy offers a specific project-based learning angle that can be meshed with any traditional and non-traditional curricular topic and is flexible enough to be applied to almost any content area.