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  • Writer's pictureGary Chapin

ALP: Storytelling and Story Catching in Tucson


Assessment is storytelling!


Any demonstration of learning tells a story of that kid’s learning. It’s got an arc. The kid starts at a place where they want to know a thing and move to a place where they begin to know that thing, and then to where they know it better.


Similarly, the Assessment for Learning Project is a learning project. What I mean is it’s not just about learning, it is learning. We all are learning. The 2020 Conference in San Diego was a demonstration of learning done by ALP of our learning from the previous three years. For the ALP Tucson convening we’ve decided to have the demonstration and learning emerge side by side. That’s our storytelling effort.


We have already begun recruiting folks from throughout our ALP and Tucson community to serve as story catchers and story tellers at the convening. These folks will be there not only to tell the story of what they see going on at the convening and on the excursions; they will be there to help you tell your story of what you’re doing and seeing. They will catch your stories and then share them.


We’ll have a bunch of activities and protocols throughout the convening that promote story thinking. We’re looking at setting up a story booth (“C’mon over and talk into the can!”)


We’ll take advantage of exit slips and our phones to dip in and out in all sorts of ways. Also … other stuff.


Here are some things to consider that might help this make more sense.

  1. Stories can be big. Stories can be small. Stories can be very small. We might ask you to text us two sentences about what you are doing right now! That’s some story going on.

  2. We use the word “story,” but encourage stuff from any media that works for you. We’ve done Ignite Talks in the past. I’ve written an ALP song. We’ve had giant murals tracking our conversations through the day. Photos are amazing. At some point, one of you will take me up on interpretive dance.

  3. There is no one story. We are doing storytelling not to come to one story, but to weave a network of stories.

  4. Stories can be planned or impromptu. Edited or raw. Improvised or composed.

  5. SO. MANY. STORIES. We will gather so many stories, of all sizes and types, from all sorts of people, that patterns will emerge from the vast mix. “Quantity has a quality all its own.” You will be telling your stories and bringing them into a great murmuration. We—the nominal organizers of ALP—won’t have to decide what our story is. Our stories will tell us.



Deciding to lean into story has a bunch of implications. I talk about those in this piece, Talking Story: Embracing Our Humanity on a Deeper Level. It’s an amazing topic to dive into, and I am indebted to our friends in Hawai’i for opening that rabbit hole for me.

We hope to see you in Tucson to become a part of your story, and you a part of ours.


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