LIBR 281-01
LIBR 281-10
Seminar in Contemporary Issues
Topic: Storytelling
Spring 2010 Greensheet

Elizabeth Wrenn-Estes, Instructor
Cell Phone: 510-410-1959
Office Hours: By appointment

Greensheet Links
Textbooks and Readings
Course Requirements
Elluminate Sessions
Grading Assignments
ANGEL Tutorials
iSchool eBookstore

Visit the Angel class site often for course updates, resources, announcements, and other relevant information. Students are responsible to know the content on the Angel course site and Greensheet/Syllabus.

Course Description

It is your responsibility to fully understand what the expectations are for the class. Please ask questions if you do not understand assignments or instructor expectations in general.

This course is designed to teach students the skills, techniques, and procedures for developing and implementing a storytelling program for children, adolescents, or adults. The history of storytelling, its place in the school or public library, and in our culture as a whole will be included. Students will read a wide variety of stories, learn techniques to adapt them for various settings and groups, demonstrate their ability to tell stories and to develop storytelling programs for different age groups.

Course Prerequisites: LIBR 200, 202, 204 required.

Course Objectives

Students successfully completing this course will be able to:

  • Understand the history of storytelling and its place in today’s society
  • Demonstrate a knowledge of the different types of stories, why they
    developed, and how they can be used effectively
  • Develop their own storytelling style and be able to articulate it effectively
  • Understand the rationale for selecting one type of story over another
  • Adapt or cut a story to make it appropriate for a specific time frame and
  • Select stories appropriate for the audience, the setting and the goal of the storytelling program
  • Adapt stories, when necessary, to their own storytelling style or to the audience for the program
  • Demonstrate their ability to tell a variety of types of stories effectively
  • Begin to develop a group of stories that they have mastered
  • Begin to move toward some kind of specialization by type of story or by author
  • Develop and implement a storytelling program designed for a specific audience and setting

LIBR 281 supports the following MLIS Core Competencies:

  • Apply the fundamental principles of planning, management and marketing/advocacy
  • Use service concepts, principles and techniques that facilitate information access, relevance, and accuracy for individuals or groups of user
  • Design training programs based on appropriate learning principles and theories
  • Demonstrate oral and written communication skills necessary for group work, collaborations and professional level presentations;
  • Evaluate programs and services on specified criteria

Course Topics

  • History of storytelling
  • Benefits of storytelling
  • Types of stories
  • How to select a story
  • Stories for different age groups – how development different techniques fit
  • What makes a story appropriate for telling?
  • Finding your own style, your own favorites
  • Adapting and cutting stories
  • Practice techniques
  • Presentation techniques
  • Using Props and Puppets in storytelling
  • Setting up a story hour program
  • Setting up a storytelling program for teens or adults
  • Maximizing the positive impact of storytelling on your library
  • Book merchandising and display techniques to support storytelling
  • Using bibliographies and booklists to support storytelling
  • Preparing and telling stories
  • Giving and receiving feedback

Course Requirements

The Instructor will enroll students before the first day of class. Students will be notified when they have been enrolled, and are encouraged to begin exploring the Angel course site immediately. Students who do not have an Angel account will not be enrolled until they contact the instructor after they have created one.

  • All students must have access to a video camera and the ability and software to load recordings to the Angel course site.
  • Students are expected to attend all scheduled Elluminate sessions, actively participate in class discussion threads, complete reading assignments, watch all assigned video presentations, and submit written assignments on due dates.
  • Assignments must be submitted via the Angel course website.

Questions, Comments, Concerns Discussion Thread
Please post all questions, concerns, and general comments on the discussion thread on the under Lessons/Discussion Threads on the Angel class site. If your question or concern is of a personal nature and relates to only you then send directly to the instructor’s email ( All questions, concerns and general comments are of great value to your classmates who might have the same concerns.

It is your responsibility to ask questions and express concerns you have about assignments or other materials provided for the class. The Greensheet/Syllabus and the class site in tandem provide you with as much information as possible but if you need clarification please do not hesitate to ask.

The instructor reserves the right to assign additional readings on the weekly outlines. Additional readings will be assigned no less than 10 days out from the week the readings are to be read.

E-mail Subject Lines/Naming of Assignment Files - Mandatory

  • Format for subject line for all email correspondence:
    LIBR 281_Section Number_YOUR LAST NAME
    (Example LIBR 281_ WrennEstes)
  • Format the file name for all of your assignments:
    (Example LIBR281_01_10_WrennEstes_GenreAuthor)

E-mail Response Time
Instructor answers email on a regular basis throughout the day and evenings. The “policy” for responding to email is up to 24-hours from receipt of the email by the instructor. The instructor, from time-to-time, may have to increase response time between receipt and answer but will inform the class if and when a longer response time is needed.

Crisis or Emergency
Please call the instructor if a situation will prevent you from doing assignments, Elluminate sessions and discussion threads. You will receive a zero for any course work missed unless you have received permission from the instructor and other arrangements have been made. The instructor reserves the right to deduct points (the number of which is determined by the instructor) for any work not done on time, missed Elluminate sessions or non-participation in discussion threads. Instructor’s cell phone number is 510-410-1959 (pacific time zone).

Course Calendar
Subject to change with fair notice.

Technology Requirements
You will need a high-speed connection (DSL, cable, etc.) to successfully participate in this class. Please see the Technology Requirements and Instructions for Success handout.

Students evaluate the course and instructor at the end of each term. An announcement will go out from the administration to let students/faculty know when they open for input. Those completing the SOTES, and informing me of doing so, will receive 1 point. The importance of SOTES are very easy to describe – it is the student’s voice to the administration and the instructor and it is so very important to improving courses and instruction.


Assignment Points Due Date
Storytelling Presentations (3) 45 (15 points each) During Elluminate Sessions on 3/4, 4/8, 4/29
Written Presentation Papers (3) 24 (8 points each) During Elluminate Sessions on 3/11, 4/8, 5/6
Discussion Threads (4) 3 at 3 pts. and 1 at 2 pts. 11 See Schedule
Philosophy Paper 8 5/12
Class Participation 10 Various times throughout semester
Elluminate - Intro Session 0 1/28
SOTES 2 End of semester
Total Points 100  

NOTE: The instructor reserves the right to deduct points for any work not done on time, missed Elluminate sessions or non-participation in discussion threads.

Grading Scale:
The standard SJSU SLIS Grading Scale is utilized for all SLIS courses. Grades not rounded up to the next grade level. For example if at semester’s end you have a 90.7%/100 you will get a B (90%) in the class.

Grading Rubric/Individual Assignment Evaluation Forms
The rubric for written assignments and the instructor individual assignment/student evaluation forms are located on the Lessons page on the Angel course site.

Each of these assignments and activities is designed to support the others. You need to read your texts and watch the videos in order to get enough information to participate in the class discussions. You will be asking for feedback from others about your stories, selecting, adapting and practicing them, and giving feedback on the same things. Your informal papers on each presentation will allow you to share your process and purpose for each presentation. The final informal paper will allow you to go back over the semester and look at how far you have come, and how you will be using in the future what you have learned this semester.


Please make sure that you have read both textbooks and reviewed all of the videos on the website by the second week of February. Because you will be locating, editing, and learning stories for the rest of the semester, you will need to get your texts read as soon as possible to give you the background you will need to complete the rest of the course. You also need to examine the websites with stories and storytellers that have been given on the class website, as they will also give good information on the background of storytelling and give you a chance to actually see some storytellers at work.

Class Participation
Class participation activities include being active in the Elluminate session and the discussion threads (please refer to those areas for explanation and points allocation). In addition however there will be discussion threads that are not scored individual but are part of an overall participation points total.

Participation includes, but is not limited to:

  • To some extent, my perception of your level of class participation is qualitative, but my evaluation of you in this area is not without quantitative support, based on my almost 20 years of teaching experience. I believe I am experienced and very able to assess your participation.
  • Bringing up questions about the lecture and readings that require clarification, that you wish to dispute, or that you agree with
  • Being an active participant in your own learning process
  • Giving peers appropriate feedback on their presentations
  • Comments and questions should be relevant to the topic under discussion, and take into consideration both that humor can enhance learning, and that this is a graduate classroom and some level of analytical thought is expected.
  • You will learn from each other as well as from me. However, you do NOT have to agree with me in order to speak. I am not always right, by any means, and welcome your dissension as well as your agreement. I want to learn with you.
  • It is important for each of us to remember that no question is dumb, no response silly or invalid, and no idea unworthy of consideration. This pertains to all comments, whether they are made by you, by me, or by someone else in the class.
  • Please read, think, and share your thoughts with the other members of this class, both in and out of class. Bring your ideas, your questions, and your insights with you to class, so we can all learn and grow together.

You are required to have a microphone and speaker to use this software. I suggest purchasing a headset with a mike attached, since that will give the best sound quality and also leave your hands free for typing and using your mouse. You will need to log onto class AT LEAST 15 minutes ahead of time, so our Elluminate assistant can check to see that you can speak and hear. When this has been confirmed, he/she will tell you how to indicate that you’ve stepped away from your computer, and you don’t have to come back till 7:00 p.m. PST. BTW, I have to do this too, to make sure my hardware is working properly as well. You should have learned about Elluminate and Angel in your 203 Class, but if you did not, there are tutorials on the SLIS homepage.

    • Thursday, January 28th – 7-8:30 p.m. Pacific
      (Note shorter time for this session)
      Introduction/Question and Answer Session.
      Instructor will provide an overview of the course and answer any questions or concerns students may have. Highly recommended. (2 points)
  • MANDATORY Elluminate Sessions
    • Thursday, March 4th - 7-9:30 p.m. Pacific
      Storytelling Presentations and Evaluation Discussion (Session 1)
      Instructor will provide a list of students who will actually present on this evening.
      All class members are required to attend. The instructor will also provide a list of students who will be evaluating those presenting during the first presentation session. (15 points)
    • Thursday, April 8th - 7-9:30 p.m. Pacific
      Storytelling Presentations and Evaluation Discussion (Session 2)
      Instructor will provide a list of students who will actually present on this evening. All class members are required to attend. The instructor will alsoprovide a list of students who will be evaluating those presenting during the first presentation session. (15 points)
    • Thursday, May 6th - 7-9:30 p.m. Pacific
      Storytelling Presentations and Evaluation Discussion (Session 3)
      Instructor will provide a list of students who will actually present on this evening. All class members are required to attend. The instructor will also provide a list of students who will be evaluating those presenting during the first presentation session. (15 points)

There are three discussion threads each worth three points and one discussion thread worth 2 points. Two posts per thread are required in order to be evaluated for full points. The first post must address the topic of the thread and include your insights and opinions on the topic and references to your readings and our discussions. You need to create a short bib indicating what resources you are using in your post. The substantial post must be on the thread by midnight Thursday of the week assigned. The second post must be a response to one of you classmates and this post must be on the thread by the 5pm on Sunday of the week assigned.

You are only required to post two times but students are requested to post more when possible. Discussion threads are to simulate face-to-face/in-class discussion sessions and are held to the same standards as your written assignments including attention to grammar and spelling.


  • Week 1 (2 pts) January 26 – January 31
    Tell the class about your background, occupation, where you are in the program and any other family or personal information you would like to share with the class.
  • Week 6 (3 pts) March 1 to March 7
    I'd like to have some of your ideas on the importance and place of story in our lives, and in your own life.
  • Week 8 (3 pts) March 15 to March 21
    What is storytelling?  How does it differ from "story"?  How does it differ from reading aloud? 
  • Week 13 (3 pts) April 19 to April 25
    To be determined


  • STORYTELLING PRESENTATIONS (45 points – 15 points per session)
    DUE DATES: March 4, April 8th and April 29 (Elluminate Sessions)

    Each student is required to videotape 6-9 stories. 2/3 stories are due at three different times during the semester (3/4, 4/8, 4/29). The videotapes must be loaded to a site like uTube so they can be viewed. You will make sure that our Elluminate assistant knows what you are using and approves of the resource. Videos must be loaded to the site you choose 72 hours before each of the Elluminate sessions to give me and everyone in the class time to view all of the videos before the session. A limited number of students will “present” stories on each of the session nights but all students are required to have their presentations due at the deadlines given. The instructor will randomly divide the class into 3 parts – each part presenting on one of the Elluminate nights.

    Students must watch all of their classmate’s videos and participate in watching and listening to those chosen for each session’s story presentation and also then participate in the discussion and evaluation of their performances during the Elluminate session and in writing to the discussion thread provided for the evaluations. Those that do not evaluate will lose participation points.

    Individual session assignments will be posted under Lessons on the
    Elluminate Class Site.

    Each presentation must be two stories, and may include three, if they are shorter in length. (Stories for younger children tend to be shorter in length) Students will be required to tell a variety of types of stories, including but not limited to, folktales, fairy tales, morality tales, tall tales, myths, legends, and chapters from children’s books, must tell stories for all age groups, even if you are planning to specialize in working with just one age group.

    All presentations will be videotaped and presented using Elluminate. It is the responsibility of the student to have the necessary technology to meet the video requirement. Students will either videotape themselves, or work with a camera-person. (I have no preference about this, but it may be easier if you twist someone’s arm (or use some gentler persuasive techniques) and persuade them to handle the camera. 

    Students may also choose to present a story hour to a live audience, and tape only the stories they tell or the whole story hour. In the latter case, only the stories they tell will be used in the Elluminate session. The entire tape, however, will be posted for the class to view.
    (8 points each for total of 24 points)
    DUE DATES: Papers are due on March 11, April 8 and May 6th.

    These papers will be turned in via the designated drop box as well as posted on the Angel course website to the designated discussion thread.

    For each presentation, write an informal paper about your process of selecting and learning each story, with background information for each individual story, including where you found it, why you chose it, how you adapted it (if appropriate), what other stories and activities you would include in a story hour (for children) or in a group presentation (for adolescents or adults) that includes it, what that story hour or presentation theme is and what other themes would work with the story, and what kind of an audience the program would be appropriate for. These programs should be for various ages, from elementary school children through adults.
  • PHILOSOPHY PAPER (8 points)
    DUE DATE May 12th (Midnight to drop box)

    Each student will turn in a brief paper (5 pages) on their philosophy of storytelling, explaining their conceptualization of it, its value, its place in librarianship, and discussing their own individual and unique style of storytelling.
    These papers will be posted on Angel.


Writing-Research Standards
Students will produce assignments that meet writing and research standards appropriate for students in a Master’s program of study. It is critical to proofread your work before turning it in. Graduate level writing standards do not tolerate spelling or grammatical errors of any kind. Students are encouraged to refer to a writing handbook - Strunk and White’s Elements of Style for example. APA is mandated for citations included within the text of the paper and reference/bib page(s). See class rubric under Lessons on the Angel class site for description of criteria/expectations for each grade level.

Spelling and Grammar Errors
I may not read your entire paper for spelling and grammar mistakes; if, in my opinion, your paper contains too many errors I will reduce your points substantially for this section of grading and stop grading your paper for mechanics and will move forward into grading the content and other elements that are required in the assignment.

Paper Formatting

Must have:

  • Cover/Title page (name, course name and section number, school name, date, instructor’s name. Title should be what the Instructor has named the assignment. The title you have created for the assignment may be used as a secondary title.
  • Page Numbers (except on the Title Page).
  • Name of assignment on each page (other than the cover page) and use the Instructor’s name for the assignment not any you have created.
  • Reference Page/Works Cited in full accordance with APA formatting
  • Citations/Quotes in the body of the paper need to be formatted according to APA rules.
  • Work must be double spaced and typed - no handwritten scans
  • The journal that is a part of the digital resources paper assignment is an exception to the double spacing rule and may be done in single space format.
  • Journal must be written in complete sentences and no abbreviations are to be used without clarification of what the letters stand for.
  • Spelling, grammar, and syntactical errors will not be tolerated.

I have a zero tolerance policy for any incidences of plagiarism and pass them
along to the University for disciplinary action.

Textbooks and Readings

Required Textbook:

  • Greene, E. (1996). Storytelling Art and Technique third edition. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited. Available through Amazon: 0835234584. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Haven, K., & Ducey, M. (2006). Crash Course in Storytelling. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited. Available through Amazon: 1591583993. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Van Schuyver, J. (1993). Storytelling Made Easy with Puppets. Phoenix: Oryx Press. Available through Amazon: 0897747321. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain

Grading Scale

The standard SJSU School of Information Grading Scale is utilized for all iSchool courses:

97 to 100 A
94 to 96 A minus
91 to 93 B plus
88 to 90 B
85 to 87 B minus
82 to 84 C plus
79 to 81 C
76 to 78 C minus
73 to 75 D plus
70 to 72 D
67 to 69 D minus
Below 67 F


In order to provide consistent guidelines for assessment for graduate level work in the School, these terms are applied to letter grades:

  • C represents Adequate work; a grade of "C" counts for credit for the course;
  • B represents Good work; a grade of "B" clearly meets the standards for graduate level work;
    For core courses in the MLIS program (not MARA) — INFO 200, INFO 202, INFO 204 — the iSchool requires that students earn a B in the course. If the grade is less than B (B- or lower) after the first attempt you will be placed on administrative probation.  You must repeat the class the following semester. If -on the second attempt- you do not pass the class with a grade of B or better (not B- but B) you will be disqualified.
  • A represents Exceptional work; a grade of "A" will be assigned for outstanding work only.

Students are advised that it is their responsibility to maintain a 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA).

University Policies

General Expectations, Rights and Responsibilities of the Student

As members of the academic community, students accept both the rights and responsibilities incumbent upon all members of the institution. Students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with SJSU's policies and practices pertaining to the procedures to follow if and when questions or concerns about a class arises. See University Policy S90-5 at More detailed information on a variety of related topics is available in the SJSU catalog at In general, it is recommended that students begin by seeking clarification or discussing concerns with their instructor. If such conversation is not possible, or if it does not serve to address the issue, it is recommended that the student contact the Department Chair as a next step.

Dropping and Adding

Students are responsible for understanding the policies and procedures about add/drop, grade forgiveness, etc. Refer to the current semester's Catalog Policies section at Add/drop deadlines can be found on the current academic year calendars document on the Academic Calendars webpage at The Late Drop Policy is available at Students should be aware of the current deadlines and penalties for dropping classes.

Information about the latest changes and news is available at the Advising Hub at

Consent for Recording of Class and Public Sharing of Instructor Material

University Policy S12-7,, requires students to obtain instructor's permission to record the course and the following items to be included in the syllabus:

  • "Common courtesy and professional behavior dictate that you notify someone when you are recording him/her. You must obtain the instructor's permission to make audio or video recordings in this class. Such permission allows the recordings to be used for your private, study purposes only. The recordings are the intellectual property of the instructor; you have not been given any rights to reproduce or distribute the material."
    • It is suggested that the syllabus include the instructor's process for granting permission, whether in writing or orally and whether for the whole semester or on a class by class basis.
    • In classes where active participation of students or guests may be on the recording, permission of those students or guests should be obtained as well.
  • "Course material developed by the instructor is the intellectual property of the instructor and cannot be shared publicly without his/her approval. You may not publicly share or upload instructor generated material for this course such as exam questions, lecture notes, or homework solutions without instructor consent."

Academic integrity

Your commitment, as a student, to learning is evidenced by your enrollment at San Jose State University. The University Academic Integrity Policy F15-7 at requires you to be honest in all your academic course work. Faculty members are required to report all infractions to the office of Student Conduct and Ethical Development. The Student Conduct and Ethical Development website is available at

Campus Policy in Compliance with the American Disabilities Act

If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, or if you need to make special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible, or see me during office hours. Presidential Directive 97-03 at requires that students with disabilities requesting accommodations must register with the Accessible Education Center (AEC) at to establish a record of their disability.

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