Large, introductory, nonmajors biology classes present challenges when trying to encourage class discussion to help reinforce important concepts. Lively in-class discussion involving hundreds of students is more successful when a relevant story told with passion is used to introduce a topic. In my courses, each semester begins with thorough treatment of the scientific method, followed by the multiple Darwinian theories of evolution. To reinforce these two important themes, the story of the ivory-billed woodpecker’s ecology, evolution, conservation, and probable extirpation has been effective in provoking class dialogue and reinforcing the two themes. Although I describe this approach as a large-class activity, it works well in courses of all sizes. In this article, I discuss teaching with storytelling and detail the use of the ivory-billed woodpecker story as a teaching tool.

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