Sell and Schiera Awarded Center for Teaching Excellence Mini-Grant

Posted on 11/5/2019 11:12:30 AM

Mike Sell (English) and Rachel Schiera (Professional Studies in Education) have been awarded a Center for Teaching Excellence Mini-Grant for a Teaching Circle to develop a teacher-training program for the IUP Digital Storytelling Project.

Since 2015, IUP undergraduate and graduate students, led by Professor Mike Sell, have collaborated with Pennsylvania teachers to empower middle- and high-school students to create original interactive digital “storygames” using the open-source software program Twine. Combining creative writing and STEM-based approaches, the IUP Digital Storytelling Project brings the Digital Humanities to Pennsylvania teachers and learners, facilitating 21st-century education.

The heart of the DSP is a three-part, on-site workshop. Team members guide learners from the basics of digital storytelling to building complex decision-making moments and visually exciting interface designs to peer-review and reflect on what they’ve created. The team teaches teachers, too. They provide hands-on training for IUP student team members and collaborate with teachers to make storygame design a meaningful part of their and their school’s educational experience.

The IUP DSP fills a critical gap in digital humanities-based student learning and teacher education in Pennsylvania. Over the last four years, the DSP has trained six graduate and two undergraduate students in storygame instruction methods, and we’ve worked with over 500 students at Franklin Regional, Indiana Area, and Butler Area schools. This year, they will expand into Apollo-Ridge, Connellsville, Derry Area, Smethport, Gateway, and Johnstown districts. They intend to build the IUP Digital Storytelling Project into a statewide program by 2024.

The CTE mini-grant provides resources for a teaching circle that will enable its participants to study state-of-the-art thinking about games and pedagogy, interview students and teachers who have participated in the DSP, and draft of a teacher-training program to support future DSP workshop leaders across the state.

Rachel Schiera will co-lead the Teaching Circle, whose participants include Dan Weinstein (English) and English Literature and Criticism doctoral students Olivia Maderer, Zeeshan Siddique, Eric Wentz, and Zainab Younus.

Department of English