LIBR 281-01
LIBR 281-10
Seminar in Contemporary Issues
Topic: Storytelling for All in a Digital Age
Spring 2009 Greensheet

Dr. Joni Richards Bodart
Web Site: 
Office location:
418H, Clark Hall
Office Hours: By Arrangement Only

Elizabeth Wrenn-Estes, Instructor
Cell Phone:
Office location: Home Office
Office Hours: By Appointment

Greensheet Links
Textbooks and Readings
Course Requirements
ANGEL Tutorials
iSchool eBookstore

ANGEL information: Students will enrolled by the instructor 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.

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 Prerequisites: LIBR 200, 202, 204 required. Other prerequisites may be added depending on content.

Course Objectives

Student Learning Outcomes
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 audience
  • 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 SLIS 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 users
  • 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 Requirements

General Requirements

  • 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. Lecture information will be given in print and video formats, and made available on the course site. 

Elluminate Sessions
There will be five Elluminate class sessions. The ones listed in the schedule are required. These sessions will be from 630-830pm PST on 2/19, 3/11, 4/16, 5/7. My assistant will send you a link to each session ahead of time so you can get to the sessions. Elluminate sessions will be used for your storytelling presentations and for brief Q&A sessions.
When I have my assistant’s schedule, I will schedule one additional Elluminate session during the last week of January or the first week of February that will be an introduction to the course and Q&A session. No lecture information will be presented. This session is not required, but is for your convenience, to help you get used to Elluminate, and give you a chance to ask your questions in real time, rather than on the discussion board threads. Since all sessions will be recorded, you will be able to look at them asynchronously when necessary.

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 mousing. You will need to get to class AT LEAST 15 minutes ahead of time, so my assistant can check to see that you can speak and hear. When this has been confirmed, she will tell you how to indicate that you’ve stepped away from your computer, and you don’t have to come back till 630. 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.


  1. Class participation:  Read texts early in the semester. By the first or second Elluminate session, you should have read the texts carefully and participated in class discussions on their content on the course website. 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. Once you have done this background reading and watching, you will be prepared to participate in class discussions.

    Class participation is essential in this course, both in the discussion board threads and the Elluminate sessions. These discussions will include information on storytelling in general, your ideas and questions about it, your feedback on your colleagues’ work, and their feedback on yours. You will be expected to exhibit appropriate skills in giving and receiving feedback. Class participation is further defined as:
    • Responding to questions from me and from other class members pertaining to course content
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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. 10% of grade
  2. Present three storytelling presentations, which will be evaluated by you, your classmates, and me. You will each do one presentation during three of the four Elluminate sessions. 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 either 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 to the Angel course site, as the other ones will be.

    Each presentation will be at least two stories, and may include three, if they are shorter. (Stories for younger children tend to be more brief.) 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. (50% of grade; these presentations will be scheduled during the first week of the semester using discussion board threads, and may also be discussed during the first optional Elluminate session.)

    Please note that reading aloud is not storytelling, and will not be included in this class. It will be a part of LIBR 260, Programming and Services for Children.
  3. 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. These papers will be turned in as well as posted on the Angel course website. (25% of grade, due one week after your presentation)
  4. Turn in a brief paper (no more than three 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 Blackboard. (15% of grade, due on 5/26)

Each of these assignments 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.

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

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
  • Van Schuyver, J. (1993). Storytelling Made Easy with Puppets. Oryx Press. Available through Amazon: 0897747321. 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

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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