How can digital storytelling be used in my classroom?

just right

Choosing a “Just Right” Book

Digital storytelling is a new concept to me, and it really made me think about my classroom, and how things could change slightly to reach out to different students. I am always thinking about differentiation, and how different students have different needs. Kids that totally tune out during Math discussions are completely intrigued by a good picture book. I can see how digital storytelling can be another tool to “include all”. I love plugging in my Smartboard and connecting to a good book online (Tumblebooks). Kids love stories … and there is a lot to learn from them.

When you think about it, this whole concept goes back in time. Silvia Tolisano, on her blog, says that

Storytelling is also an ancient form of teaching . Before books, reading and writing became widely spread and available, oral storytelling was the only form the wisdom and knowledge of the people were passed down from elders to children

It’s true, and explains why it seems so natural. Browsing through her blog, this has made me think of ways I can use digital storytelling in the classroom. Ways that will involve more kids, engage them, hopefully excite them. Our current FOSS Science unit is Earth Materials. I am already taking tons of pictures, and what better way to summarize their learning than by having each group complete a digital story of the process they have gone through, starting with the analysis of mock rocks, to a scratch test, and finally study of calcite and granite. Photo evidence can be collected along the way, and when the unit is complete, students will summarize their learning. Or even better yet, our next Writing unit is personal narratives. Using photos and iMovie will definitely engage all of my reluctant writers … they won’t even know they are writing as they work through a simple storyboard, knowing that part of the end product will be a digital story!

OK. Back to our group’s project. Like anything else that is tech based, I wanted to make sure that it was relevant to what I was doing in the classroom, supported student learning, and wouldn’t take up a ton of time. How many projects have I got all excited about in the past, only to have them suitable and “fun” for someone my age, but for students, confusing and frustrating …

Outline A Story Idea:

So, we brainstormed possible topics, and then came up with the following story idea:

How to Choose “Just Right” Books

We then developed a simple storyboard on paper which outlined 8-10 sequenced steps, much like procedural writing.

Media to capture the story:

Once our ideas were agreed upon, we needed to pick the right tool to capture our story. We first turned to a FlipCam, thinking that video was the way to go. Capturing the footage wasn’t as issue, but loading it into our laptop was for some reason. After some delay and a “crash”, we took a step back and simplified things. Still images was our alternative, and we mapped out where the pictures would be taken, the main character (thank you Teddy Bear), and any supporting props we would need in the library.

Tool used to build the digital story:

After all the photos were taken, we loaded them into iPhoto and then iMovie. Once our iMovie project was loaded and ready to go, with clips put in place and some simple titles, we added some audio (nice work Dan) to go along with the clips, as well as some background music. Our finished product was excellent. It will (I am sure) get the message across, and I can’t wait to show it to my students. I also think that it will get them thinking about little projects they could attempt, which focus on the concept of a “digital story”.

Finally, in planning future digital story projects (and anything to do with technology really), I found the following outline posted by Jennifer New really useful:

  1. Learn from what you watch.
  2. See technology as a storytelling tool, not as a teaching goal.
  3. Allow your students to push you (and lead you).
  4. Learn by trial and error.
  5. Give your students freedom, but hold them accountable.
  6. Consider yourself the executive producer.
  7. Don’t forget to celebrate your students’ work!
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~ by yamaguru on October 31, 2009.

4 Responses to “How can digital storytelling be used in my classroom?”

  1. […] one. We worked collaboratively on a digital story which we all plan to use in our classroom – Choosing A Just Right Book. It was interesting discussing with teachers at other grade levels what would be a useful project. […]

  2. I love your group’s project! It will be helpful for every grade level in the ES! Well done!

    I also think using digital storytelling for subjects other than language arts is a great way to get students more engaged and involved in their learning. Rebecca and I did a simple VoiceThread digital storytelling project with your seeds unit last year and it was fantastic! Let me know if you’re interested in giving it a try and we can set something up.

  3. I am interested in this idea Kim. It would work well with our last course project idea. Advice?

  4. I have found that projects like this work if they have a consistent thread of story that draws them together and helps build investment by the students. As you discovered the danger is in becoming to attached to the technology and less focused on the point. Something wroth watching.

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