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Multi-sensory Storytelling: Creativity Workshop with Bird Box Author Josh Malerman

June 24-27, 2019, 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

“Multi-sensory Storytelling: Creativity Workshop with Bird Box Author Josh Malerman” is a four-day workshop for educators and writers that will guide participants to incorporate visual, auditory and kinetic experiences in their teaching and composing practices. Participants will study the craft of storytelling alongside Josh Malerman, bestselling author of Bird Box on which the popular Netflix film is based. By engaging multiple artistic disciplines and technology, educators and writers will be able to develop a digital story.

Educators will create a lesson plan that helps students tell their own stories of learning in engaging and exciting ways, and writers will develop storytelling strategies that convey multi-sensory experiences in text and multi-media.

Malerman will lead participants through his experiential writing process, which incorporates technical and creative writing approaches and provides concrete strategies for breaking writers block, finding inspiration in daily life, and embracing the importance of the writing environment. Malerman’s process will serve as the framework for the workshop's creative activities. Local visual artists, musicians and professionals will contribute expertise through hands-on instruction, teaching participants how to use technology and other tools to incorporate sight, sound and motion in their lessons and story projects.

Participants will gain hands-on experience with multiple writing techniques, artistic disciplines, and media applications that will enable them to create powerful stories in the future. Educators will flex their storytelling skills to develop lessons that enable students to narrate their own stories of learning, while writers will hone their craft with projects that engage experiential writing practices.

By the end of the workshop, participants will have a short multi-media presentation highlighting their lesson plan or story project using Malerman’s framework. Reflections and feedback from Malerman and members of the University of Richmond Education faculty will be provided.

On the final day of the program, workshop participants are invited as special guests to An Evening with Josh Malerman, including a public screening of the Bird Box film at The Byrd Theatre. The screening will be preceded by an UnHappy Hour courtesy of the Poe Museum and follwed by Q&A and book signing with Malerman. The evening with Josh Malerman is included in the course fee as a celebration of the workshop’s culmination.


Participants will develop skills in creating compelling narratives through experiential writing and place-based storytelling. Build skills in storytelling, listening and sound art, field journaling, video, and technology by working an idea through the lenses of multiple disciplines and create a digital story map.

Educators will understand and utilize writing skills to integrate all content, including STEAM, and demonstrate student comprehension of material through a performance-based assessment.

Opportunities to build skills in multi-media storytelling and technology include capturing, editing, and exporting sound and video; learning coding to create music in EarSketch; developing a digital story in StoryMapJS; and using Google Sites as an electronic portfolio.


Non-credit registration (certificate of completion, VDOE recertification point eligible)

  • PIA Consortium Member: $479 (regional artists, arts/culture orgs, and schools)
  • Non-PIA Consortium Member: $599

Graduate credit registration: $800 (3 semester hours) — Complete the Professional Development for Educators application, then register in BannerWeb for EDUC 598U STEAM Stories

Cost includes all course materials and daily lunch in the Heilman Dining Center. Participants who complete all of the required work with perfect attendance will receive a 40-hour certificate of completion. Participants who complete the graduate course will earn three semester hours of credit.

Daily Workshop Details

Day 1: Monday
Defining Arts Integration/Course Overview

Course instructor Rob McAdams will provide an overview of the creative practices and instructional processes that align scientific investigation with studio practices and habits.

Facilitator: Rob McAdams, director, Partners in the Arts

Bird Box: Experiential & Experimental Writing

Josh Malerman’s book Bird Box, and the Netflix film adaptation, have sparked memes and YouTube challenges, and in this session Josh will share his processes of experiential writing that informed its creation.

Discover how to overcome obstacles to making work and how to engage and enhance observing the world through all of your senses. The storytelling framework for the course will be shared, and participants will write and capture ideas through various prompts and challenges. These approaches include varying form, setting, genre, subject matter, formality, style and voice as methods for reinvigorating the writing process.

Facilitators: Josh Malerman with Allison Laakko

Day 2: Tuesday
Listening, Music Concrete, DJ'ing & Earsketch, oh my!

Be an active listener and learn coding through the sound/music creation app EarSketch. Participants will BB challenge their way to capturing sounds and how to build SFX, soundtracks and/or music by bringing bits, pieces, and samples of sound and music together to create a piece.

Facilitators: Nelly Kate Anderson, DJ Lonnie B & Thomas Brownell

Seeing, Sketching, Journaling

Participants will develop the tools and confidence to engage students in sketching, journaling and bookmaking as a means for engaging in the world around them, telling their own stories, and connecting classroom content. Discover the power of combining visual art and language when learning, exploring, and capturing experiences to tell stories.

Facilitator: Aijung Kim

Capturing Images Digital Video Creation

This is a hands-on workshop to teach professional skills and concepts that can help in the creation of digital videos as a means for capturing and telling community and individual stories. Concepts and skills include: research techniques, learning to shoot for editing, proper audio recording and overall video structure. Participants will create a video based on their specific discipline or theme. They will research, operate a video device, interview (on camera) and edit a short video. Participants should bring the digital equipment they use, such as a phone or an iPad. If a device is needed please e-mail

Facilitator: Mason Mills

Day 3: Wednesday
Walk About

Josh Malerman, Allison Laakko, Rob McAdams and Assistant Professor of Education Bob Spires will join educators as they explore UR’s campus to collect images, observations, and sounds to create compelling artifacts for their STEAM stories maps.

Facilitators: Josh Malerman, Allison Laakko, Rob McAdams & Bob Spires

Online Community Stories in StoryMapJS

StoryMapJS is a free tool, developed by the KnightLab, to help you tell stories on the web that highlight the locations of a series of events, and tell community stories. Participants should bring their own laptops as StoyMap JS is not ideal on devices. If you do not have access to a laptop please email

Facilitator: Andrew Bell & Ryan Brazell

Day 4: Thursday
Putting It All Together

Josh Malerman will guide participants through the editing and revising steps of the learning and creating processes with questions to help draw deeper meaning into the work. Through work and reflection time, participants will put together their story and all of the elements to make it as compelling as possible.

Screening of Bird Box with Author Q&A and Book Signing

This special screening of Bird Box will take place in the Byrd Theatre. Additional details TBA.

Partners in the Arts
Phone: (804) 955-4012

Robert S. McAdams, MFA

Stacy Hull

UR Downtown
626 E. Broad St., Ste. 100
Richmond, VA 23219

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