LIBR 281-03
LIBR 281-10
Seminar in Contemporary Issues
Topic: Storytelling
Spring 2012 Greensheet

Elizabeth (Beth) Wrenn-Estes
Other contact information:510-410-1959 (Cell)
Office location:
Office Hours: By Appointment

Greensheet Links
Textbooks and Readings
Course Requirements
Weekly Outlines
Collaborate Sessions
Discussion Threads
Points Allocation
D2L Login and Tutorials
iSchool eBookstore

This course will be available on D2L by JANUARY 25, 2012. You will be automatically enrolled into the site. I will send more information about course access as we approach the first day of class.

The instructor expects each student to check into the D2L course site at least once, if not twice, per day to see course updates, resources, announcements, and other relevant information. Students are responsible to know the content on the D2L course site and Greensheet/Syllabus. It is also the student’s responsibility to ask questions and express concerns quickly so that the instructor can provide an answer/response immediately.

Course Description

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 Objectives

Student Learning Outcomes
Students successfully completing this course will be able to:

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

LIBR 281 supports the following MLIS Core Competencies:

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

Course Requirements

  • All students must have access to a video camera and the ability and software to load recordings to the Blackboard Collaborate course site.
  • Students are expected to attend all scheduled Blackboard Collaborate 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 D2L course website.

The instructor makes every effort to proofread the Greensheet/Syllabus and the D2L Course Site but errors can occur. Please contact the instructor with any errors you see or any questions or may have.

Instructor’s Instructional Philosophy
The instructor wants each student in the course to succeed and will do everything to help students do so but it is a partnership. Please make sure that communication stays a top priority during the semester. Ask questions when you have them, seek clarifications when you need them, take responsibility for understanding all expectations, content and assignments for the course.

The instructor encourages students to work hard and to come away with a love of children’s programming and services including children’s literature, the ability to defend it, and an understanding of how to best serve children. Students are ultimately responsible for their learning experience and work ethic during the class.

The Importance of SOTES
Students evaluate the course and instructor at the end of each term.  This evaluation is known as the SOTES. An announcement will go out from the administration letting students/faculty know when the SOTES are available to complete. Those completing the SOTES, and informing me of doing so, will receive 1 point towards their overall grade. 1 point can make the difference between a higher and a lower grade overall. The importance of SOTES is very easy to describe – it is the student voice to the administration and the instructor giving feedback on the positives and negatives of the student’s experience in the class. Completing the SOTES is so very important to improving courses and instruction.

Questions, Comments, Concerns- Discussion Thread
Please post all questions, concerns, and general comments on the discussion thread under Content/Discussion Threads on the D2L class site. If the question or concern is of a personal nature send directly to the instructor’s email address (

All lectures are posted with each Weekly Outline on the D2L site. Lectures may have been recorded during an earlier semester but are still relevant for the present semester.

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

  • Format for subject line for all email correspondence:
  • Format the file name for all of your assignments:

E-mail Response Time
Instructor answers email on a regular basis throughout the day and evenings.

(Policy-Instructor will respond to student emails within 24-hours of receipt). The instructor will inform the class if a longer response time is needed (instructor out of town, illness, etc.)

Students are expected to promptly answer emails from the instructor and fellow students.

You must sign up for this free, IM service from the University. SLIS will send out information on how to obtain the software. An excellent way for the class to stay in touch with one another and with the Instructor.

Crisis or Emergency
Please call the instructor if a situation will prevent you from doing assignments or other class activities. You will receive a zero for any course work missed unless you have received permission from the instructor for an extension. The instructor reserves the right to deduct points (the number of points is determined by the instructor) for any work not submitted on time or lack of participation in Blackboard Collaborate session, group work or 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.

See Grading Scale below.

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’s evaluation forms are located on the Contents page on the D2L course site.


Storytelling Performances (3) 45 (15 points each) Blackboard Collaborate Sessions 2/21, 3/20, 5/1
Written Performance Papers (3) 18 (6 points each) 2/20, 3/19, 4/30 to dropbox
Discussion Threads 10 See schedule
Philosophy Paper 6 5/14
Final Examination 20 May 9 (9am start) through Midnight May 10
SOTES 1 End of Semester

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

Weekly Outlines
It is critical that you follow the weekly outlines under Content on the D2L sites. While the reading of the textbooks is your responsibility to complete by the second week in February the Weekly Outlines will walk you through week by week on other activities and resources you need to look at, complete, etc. It is critical to use the course site and the Greensheet in conjunction with each other. 

Look under the week that an assignment is due for the description and related resources (examples, evaluation form, etc.) Pay attention to deadlines.

Course Activities and Assignments
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 and prepare for your performances. 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 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.

Class Participation
Class participation activities include being active in the Collaborate sessions, the discussion threads (please refer to those areas for explanation and points allocation) and in general responsive to classmates and the instructor.

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 performances.
  • 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.

Blackboard Collaborate Sessions
You are required to have a microphone and speaker to use this software.  I suggest purchasing a headset with a microphone 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 Collaborate 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 6:30 p.m. PST.  BTW, I have to do this too, to make sure my hardware is working properly as well. There is a Blackboard Collaborate handbook and tutorials available to help you familiarize yourselves with Collaborate.

DATES - MANDATORY Blackboard Collaborate Sessions

  • Tuesday, February 21st – 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
    Storytelling Presentations and Evaluation Discussion (Session 1)
  • Tuesday, March 20th – 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
    Storytelling Presentations and Evaluation Discussion (Session 2)
  • Tuesday, May 1st – 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
    Storytelling Presentations and Evaluation Discussion (Session 3)

Note: 15 pts. each session – see STORYTELLING PRESENTATIONS under Detailed Assignment Descriptions.

Discussion Threads - Mandatory

See each thread for number of posts and submission dates/times that are required. Additional posts are always welcomed and more posts create a much richer exchange of ideas and insights between classmates.

Discussion Thread Schedule

  • Week 1 (1 pt) January 25 – January 29
  • 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.
  • Post/Deadlines: 1 post by Friday, January 27th (midnight).
  • Week 6 (3 pts) February 27 – March 4
  • I'd like to have some of your ideas on the importance and place of story in our lives, and in your own life.  Post/Deadlines: You must post two substantial posts and two responses to others.  One substantial post on Tuesday by midnight, one substantial post on Thursday, plus two responses to classmates by Sunday at 5 p.m. Pacific
  • Week 8 (3 pts) March 12 – March 18
  • What is storytelling?  How does it differ from "story"?  How does it differ from reading aloud? 
  • Post/Deadlines: You must post two substantial posts and two responses to others.  One substantial post on Tuesday by midnight, one substantial post on Thursday, plus two responses to classmates by Sunday at 5 p.m. Pacific
  • Week 13 (3 pts) April 16 – April 22
  • Share your favorite storytellers with each other. Include in the post why you like them and their style of storytelling and also the URL to a performance if you can. Be detailed so we can see why you like them. Post/Deadlines: You must post two substantial posts and two responses to others.  One substantial post on Tuesday by midnight, one substantial post on Thursday, plus two responses to classmates by Sunday at 5 p.m. Pacific.

SLIS Competencies: M, N
Learning Objectives: 1, 2, 4

Detailed Descriptions of Assignments/Examinations

STORYTELLING PRESENTATIONS (45 points – 15 points per session)

DUE DATES: February 21, March 20 and May 1st (Blackboard Collaborate Sessions)

Each student will create three performances to perform at three different times during the semester – see dates above. One performance must be focused for children, one for teens and one for adults or all ages. Each performance is to be ten-minutes in length. URL posting dates are  2/18 (midnight), 3/17(midnight), 4/28(midnight). Posting early gives everyone in the class the ability to get a first viewing before the actual evaluation/performance night during the Collaborate session. The video you made will be shown during class – you will not be performing “live”.

Students will be required to tell a different types of story each performance, including but not limited to, folktales, fairy tales, morality tales, tall tales, myths, legends, and chapters from children’s books that you’ve adapted.

Each student is required to videotape 3 storytelling performances (10 minutes each) Performances are due at three different times during the semester (posting dates for URL’s – 2/18 (midnight), 3/17(midnight), 4/28(midnight). The videotapes must be loaded YouTube, Vimeo or BlipTV. You will make sure that our Blackboard Collaborate assistant knows what you are using and approves of the resource. All students watch all videos twice – once in advance of the session and once during the session(s). Students may choose to perform before a live audience or tape without audience. Each of the performances can only be ten minutes in length.

It is the responsibility of the student to have the necessary technology to meet the video requirement. Students will either videotape themselves, or get a friend or family member to help.  (Instructor has 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. You will make sure that our Blackboard Collaborate assistant knows what you are using and approves of the resource.

Students must watch all of their classmate’s videos. All students evaluate themselves and their classmates during the Collaborate session and then turn in written evaluations by midnight the day after the session. Evaluations are sent to the individual and the Instructor. Points are lost if evaluations are not completed.  Evaluation Forms are under Content on the D2L site.

SLIS Competencies: D, M, N
Objectives: 1-11

PRESENTATION PAPERS – INFORMAL (6 points each for total of 18 points)

DUE DATES: Papers are due on February 20th (midnight), March 19th (midnight), April 29th (midnight) These papers will be turned in via the designated drop box as well as posted on the Blackboard Collaborate course website to the designated discussion thread. 

For each presentation, write an informal paper about your process of selecting and learning each of your performance 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 the story telling. Include specifics about style, method and your process. Length of paper - not more than 10 pages.

SLIS Competencies: D, M, N
Objectives: 3, 4, 6,11


Students will complete the online exam between 9 am on Wednesday, May 9 and midnight, Thursday May 10. Questions will be created using course readings (both textbook and weekly outline reading and watching assignments and from instructor lectures. It will be a mix of fill in the blank, true and false, and short essay. The examination will most likely be administered electronically through the course site in D2L. Information will be sent out to students as we approach the exam dates about how to access the exam.

SLIS Competencies:  D, I, M, N
Objectives: 1, 2


DUE DATE May 14th (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.    

SLIS Competencies:  D, I, K
Objectives: K, M

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 Blackboard Collaborate 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Page Numbers (except on the Title Page).
  3. 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.
  4. Reference Page/Works Cited in full accordance with APA formatting
  5. Citations/Quotes in the body of the paper need to be formatted according to APA rules.
  6. Work must be double spaced and typed - no handwritten scans
  7. Spelling, grammar, and syntactical errors will not be tolerated.

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

Textbooks and Readings

Required Textbooks:

  • Greene, E. (1996). Storytelling Art and Technique third edition. Libraries Unlimited. Available through Amazon: 0835234584. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Haven, K., & Ducey, M. (2006). Crash Course in Storytelling. Libraries Unlimited. Available through Amazon: 1591583993. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain

Recommended Textbooks:

  • Van Schuyver, J. (1993). Storytelling Made Easy with Puppets. 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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