February 1, 2012
Li’l Stories is Li’l Robin’s first education initiative: launched in early 2016, it is a flexible system of tools that inspire creative thinking and collaboration in elementary school classrooms. Li’l Stories’ child-centered approach puts students in the driver seat: they have fun, are engaged and learn to express themselves through visual, spoken and written storytelling. Li’l Stories guides students through the collaborative creation and sharing of a visual narrative. It uses storytelling as a tool for integrating literacy goals across multiple content areas: the system successfully teaches English Language Arts skills, reinforces classroom topics and fosters creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication.
We developed the system in the classroom. Working with several teachers and classes at P.S. 3 in New York and the Children’s Museum of the Arts, we tested various prototypes to determine how best to structure collaboration, teach story structure and sequencing, create a child-centered capturing flow and make it an engaging activity. Once the format was refined, the teachers found Li’l Stories to be extremely useful, and the students loved it, too.
Prototyping at the Children’s Museum of the Arts, February 2015
Li’l Stories includes four strands of instruction (a) creating stories, (b) collaboration, (c) oral presentation, and (d) capturing stories digitally. The system consists of two parts:
Part 1. Create and Tell using the Li’l Stories storyboard: Li’l Stories builds from the foundation of oral tradition and uses the concept of storyboards as a platform to engage students in the process of collaborative storytelling. The act of storyboarding helps children structure their narratives and organize their thinking.
Li’l Stories Storyboard
The Li’l Stories storyboard also helps structure the student’s collaboration. Students learn to listen, articulate and communicate their ideas. They practice public speaking, getting feedback and responding to it. The process prioritizes the fact that “oral language competency serves as the underpinning for students’ written-language competency in the future.” (Core Knowledge Foundation, 2010).
Part 2. Capture and Share using the Li’l Stories App: Li’l Stories introduces students to living in a connected world. In order to share our creations, work and ideas with a wider audience online, we need to capture them. Using the Li’l Stories app, students capture their stories through image and audio. Teachers can upload the stories to their class websites, where they can be experienced by family and friends outside the classroom.
Teachers can combine the two parts in different ways—the exercise can be a short story creation and sharing activity, or the beginning of a longer unit in which students can use the storyboard as a blueprint for producing original work which can result in written narratives, puppet shows, Reader’s Theater, storytelling parties, and animations/films.
User Journey: Magnus Sweger, 2nd and 3rd grade teacher at P.s. 3, used Li’l Stories for his 6 week unit of Pourquoi tales: students retold a Pourquoi tale read in class or created their own stories. Throughout the creation process, students shared the stories with the class. They turned them into readers’ theater, a written dialogue as well as captured them.
Team 405, P.S. 3, March 2015
Thanks to 140 Kickstarter backers, Li’l Stories is now being used in 25 elementary school classrooms in the US as well as the Children’s Museum of the Arts in New York City.
Li’l Stories Identity System
Storyboard and App Design
Digital Flow and Data Model
AIGA/NY, Red Hook Hub
The Hub is a public communications system that helps inform, connect and engage the Red Hook community. Developed as part of the AIGA/NY Design/Relief initiative in Red Hook, it collects and displays information based on community needs. The Hub is a system of physical and digital community bulletin boards that connect the community.
Introducing The Hub at the Red Hook Fest, June 16, 2014.
When Hurricane Sandy hit New York City in October 2012, the waterfront neighborhood of Red Hook, Brooklyn, was largely unprepared for the storm’s fury. The physical vulnerability of the area was matched by a fragile system of communication that left many residents wondering what to do, both during and after the disaster.
The Hub is a new communication system that will make sure Red Hook stays informed about future emergencies—and everything else that’s going on in the neighborhood, one of New York’s most exciting places to live, work and visit. Working with AIGA/NY’s Design/Relief initiative, Li’l Robin developed the project as part of a team that includes the design studio MGMT. design, the non-profit strategists Amplifier Project, and the communications specialist David Al-Ibrahim.
The Hub System.
The Hub bulletin boards and locations.
The Hub is a public information system that collects and displays information based on community needs. Conceived as a kind of 21st century bulletin board, The Hub functions as a flexible network of physical and digital platforms that connect the community. Information is shared on two large-scale bulletin boards and a dynamic digital ticker, as well as multiple “Hublets” throughout the neighborhood. The physical postings are augmented by a website (redhookhub.org), a weekly email update, and social media (Twitter). As its name implies, The Hub gives the community somewhere to go for reliable information, and in an area without a true center, strategically spreads out to meet residents wherever they live.
The Hub identity.
The Hub website.
The Hub was developed through a community-driven process that focused on building partnerships and engaging the public. We worked closely with members of the community, talking to residents, small business owners, neighborhood leaders and activists, and other stakeholders in a series of meetings, presentations, one-on-ones, site visits, and workshops—not to mention many informal conversations, which we valued as much as the official communications.
Meetings, workshops, and testing throughout the year.
At the Red Hook Hackathon at Pioneer Works, April 18-19, 2014.
At various stages we met with the Red Hook Houses East and West Tenants Associations and the Red Hook Initiative, an advocacy group for youth empowerment. We presented a community design charrette at the Miccio Community Center, and started development of the website at the Red Hook Hackathon, held at Pioneer Works, an art and science center in the neighborhood. (The finished website was programmed by Tim Halbach.) Community partners in The Hub include the Brooklyn Public Library’s Red Hook branch, Red Hook Initiative’s Digital Stewards RH Wifi Program (which is providing online coordination, website content, and a Hub coordinator), the Red Hook Coalition’s Communication Working Group, and Good Shepherd Services, a social services agency. Fabrication of the Hub boards and ticker was completed by Kammetal, a metalwork shop based in Red Hook.
The Hub bulletin board fabrication at Kammetal.
The Hub concept was first introduced to the public at this summer’s Red Hook Fest, where visitors had an opportunity to test-drive the system and pick up Hub swag, including t-shirts and stickers with the Hub taglines “Get it. Share it.” and “We are Red Hook.” Responses to the program so far have been remarkably enthusiastic and positive, and we’re currently in the process of handing over maintenance of the program to the designated stakeholders.
Introducing The Hub at the Red Hook Fest, June 16, 2014.
Red Hook Hub ribbon cutting event at the Brooklyn Public Library in Red Hook, December 6, 2014.
Since the launch of our project in December of 2014, we have seen how it makes a difference and improves communication in Red Hook during both crisis and non-crisis conditions.
<codr> is a new app that helps kids “graduate” from Scratch to the more complex text-based programming languages that are used at a professional level. Developed as a site and a widget, the app helps support students in translating what they already know into learning their next programming language. Li’l Robin’s founder Anke Stohlmann collaborated on the creation of the app with the educator Keledy Kenkel and the developers Adam Wooton and Hassan Abdel-Rahman.
<codr>: initial concept
<codr>: early prototypes
<codr>: web application
<codr> grew out of our participation in a 12-Week Prototyping Bootcamp, a series of workshops presented by EDesign Lab in partnership with 4.0 Schools. Both organizations are incubators that seek to “hack” the future of education, bringing together entrepreneurs, educators, technologists and designers to co-imagine and rapidly prototype interactive learning experiences that improve student engagement, motivation and success.
Brainstorming & Protoyping
Collective Story connects people through stories. It’s a toolkit for creating simple, low-fidelity public space interventions that promote civic engagement, critical thinking and intergenerational storytelling in public spaces, queues or waiting areas. The toolkit includes a how-to guidebook and stencils for easy poster-making. We piloted the project with a series of storytelling prompts distributed across New York City, garnering a strong response through social media channels like Twitter and Instagram. Collective Story was conceived by Li’l Robin’s founder Anke Stohlmann, Meghana Khandekar, Pamela Jue, and Rae Milne.
Collective Story Toolkit
Collective Story in Action
For additional images showing Collective Story in action, check out http://collectivestorynyc.com/
Collective Story Website
Li’l Stories Cards
Conceived and produced by Li’l Robin, Li’l Stories is a series of cards that is a tool for parents to make storytelling a little easier and a lot more fun. The cards feature all the elements—characters, locations, and objects—for the start of a good story.