Found a great post on TED entitled ‘Hey science teachers, make it fun’. The speaker, Tyler DeWitt, presents a compelling argument to use story to teach new concepts; and to cut out some of the confusing details, even if it means presenting a few inaccuracies, for the sake of engaging students.
Tyler also has an extensive library of videos on YouTube following the flipped classroom approach (students watch videos at home, then do the ‘homework’ in the classroom), find them here: http://www.youtube.com/user/tdewitt451
I have tried this approach a few times now, and despite one story which unfortunately was really boring, the students have responded very well. Most students enjoyed the lightness of the story, and the students who occasionally struggle with some content of a more abstract nature grasped the main points in the story. To check if there was any point to telling a story, I set homework for each class to summarise the main points for the stories. A high percentage did so very successfully.
I will be using this approach more in future, and intend to look more into DeWitt’s approach and his videos.