The Scottish Storyline®Method

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Storyline Design

What is the Storyline Method?

Storyline is a structured approach to learning and teaching that was developed in Scotland It builds on the key principle that learning, to be meaningful, has to be memorable, and that by using learner's enthusiasm for story-making, the classroom, the teacher's role and learning can be transformed. Storyline is a strategy for developing the curriculum as an integrated whole. It provides an opportunity for active learning and reflection as essential parts of effective learning and teaching. At the same time it develops in learners a powerful sense of ownership of their learning.

-The Scottish Consultative Council on the Curriculum

Who is Storyline Design?

Jeff Creswell is an experienced classroom teacher and staff developer who has been working with the Storyline method since it was first brought to the United States in 1989. He is the author of Creating Worlds, Constructing Meaning: The Scottish Storyline Method, published by Heinema
nn Books. He has trained teachers throughout the United States and Europe, is a member of the Golden Circle, and is on the leadership team for Storyline International. Jeff recently retired from classroom teaching after 32 years. In addition to his work with Storyline Design, he is a facilitator for the Center for Courage and Renewal, an organization founded by Parker Palmer, working with educators and other people in the helping professions.
Eileen Vopelak has been an educator for 40 years. She received her master’s degree in Elementary Education and has both Administrative and TESOL credentials. She has been an eleme
ntary school teacher, staff developer, student teacher supervisor, and adjunct professor. Eileen was introduced to the Storyline Method in 1991 and has since been using the method and sharing it with teachers in California and beyond. In addition to being a Storyline instructor, she is an adjunct professor at Santa Barbara City College where she teaches English as a Second Language.

Helen Crandell is an educator in Portland with over 30 years experience. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Oregon State University and master’s degree in Educational Administration from Portland State University. Helen has been a Storyline instructor since 1994. She has facilitated staff development workshops in Oregon, Ohio and Tennessee.
Helen was a presenter at the 2000 and 2003 International Storyline Conferences in Denmark, the 2008 Nordic Storyline Conference in Sweden, and the 2015 International Storyline Conference in Glasgow. Helen currently supervises student teachers at Concordia University.

Roger Fisher is an educator and presenter with 20 years experience working with children and adults. He has a master’s degree from the University of Oregon and is a veteran Storyline Design instructor with expertise in integrated curriculum design and implementation. Rog
er has worked with children ages 7-14 in self-contained classrooms, middle schools, after school programs, and summer challenge academies. He currently teaches gifted and talented children in grades 2-5 in a district-wide pull-out model and teaches math and science methods at the college level. Storyline is his favorite model for creating exciting and relevant learning for young people.

J.J. Howard has been teaching elementary students for over twenty years. He graduated from Western Oregon University with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and interdisci
plinary studies. He has been a Storyliner since 1997.  J.J. attended the International Storyline Conference in Glasgow, Scotland in 2006 and presented at the 2009 and 2015 conferences.  J.J. currently teaches a 2nd and 3rd grade blend at Highland School, a Storyline magnet school in Bend, Oregon ( When he is not teaching, J.J. enjoys running, science fiction, travel and family.

Elaine Smith began her teaching career after receiving a bachelor’s degree from the Unive
rsity in Northern Colorado and a master’s of education from Kent State University. Halfway through her career, she was introduced to Storyline, which changed the course of her teaching career. She has since shared the Storyline method with many teachers as a Storyline Design instructor and was instrumental in establishing Highland Elementary, a Storyline magnet school, in Bend, Oregon.

Misha Therrian has been using the Storyline method to teach elementary students for over
15 years. She attended Oregon State University, Charles Sturt University in Bathurst, Australia, and holds a Masters degree from Eastern Oregon University in elementary education. Misha was a presenter at the International Storyline Conferences in 2009, 2015 and 2018. She and JJ Howard have worked collaboratively to provide Storyline workshops for teachers in the Bend LaPine School District. Misha currently teaches a 2nd and 3rd grade blend at Highland Elementary, a Storyline magnet school, in Bend, Oregon.

Colleen Vallerga began teaching in 1986 and taught elementary school for 22 years, working in grades K through 4. In 1993, her teaching was transformed when she took a Storyline class and began to implement this creative method of integration in her classroom.
In Bend, Oregon, Colleen worked together with Elaine Smith to establish Highland Storyline Magnet School. For the past fifteen years she has worked as a Storyline instructor for Storyline Design. Visit Colleen’s Storyline Resources website for materials Colleen has developed in her classroom.

Jan Zuckerman has been an educator in Portland for more than 30 years. She co-founded the Environmental Middle School, now Sunnyside Environmental School and has been an avid Storyline teacher for over 20 years. Like the three sisters garden, Jan believes that service learning and place based education naturally fit into the Storyline model, and is the be
st way to cultivate learning in children. She has worked with students grades 4-8, and is a firm believer in the magic of Storyline. Jan has presented at the International Storyline Conferences in Portland and Iceland and attended the International Conferences in Denmark and Scotland. She is a Storyline instructor and regularly steps into the roles of old ladies, giantologists, scientists and other characters whenever she has the opportunity.

Shelly Othus is the office manager for Storyline Design. She works with teachers and administrators to coordinate classes and registrations, creates training and advertising materials, and provides managerial support for the organization.

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