Good evening and welcome. My name is Briana Allen. I teach computer applications to 6th through 8th grade students at James Giles School, one of two schools in Norridge District 80. My primary role is to teach students the technology skills as determined by the district. These include the basics of Microsoft Office, desktop publishing, network awareness, information systems and Internet use. In addition I teach an advanced technology class in which students work with digital photography, digital video, and web page design. Although I teach these skills independent from the core curriculum, I often elicit ideas from the core teachers for projects that relate to their curriculum. On some occasions I am able to work with a colleague to design a project for their class.
Of all the technologies I teach I particularly enjoy digital storytelling. So, what is digital storytelling? According to the Digital Storytelling Association, “Digital Storytelling is the modern expression of the ancient art of storytelling. Digital stories derive their power by weaving images, music, narrative and voice together, thereby giving deep dimension and vivid color to characters, situations, experiences, and insights.” Can you recall your emotional response to Schindler’s List, Apollo 13, Jaws, On Golden Pond, An Inconvenient Truth or maybe A League of Their Own? All of these movies evoke emotions and linger in our thoughts. Think of a digital story as a 2 to 5 minute movie with goals similar to those of the big film makers, or maybe a bit simpler.
You may be wondering how movies fit into our curriculum? First and foremost, digital storytelling is an exercise in writing. Whether written from personal experiences or based on research about a person, place, event or idea a digital story is a story! Whether you utilize the Big 6, 6+1 writing traits or other writing process you are half way to a digital story. As part of any writing process students must brainstorm ideas, organize their thoughts, incorporate their voice and personality, consider writing conventions, and incorporate vocabulary to create interesting stories. Without these elements, a digital story fails to exist. An obvious benefit for students is improved writing through the visualization of their story as well as the authentic learning experience in which students become invested. Digital storytelling asks students to develop visual and multimedia literacy by encouraging interpretation of images and media while considering their meaning in various contexts. It also provides a motivating project for students of all abilities and learning styles by allowing students to develop and extend creativity. A side-effect of sorts is the technology. By applying technology to a story, students learn technology and information literacy skills deemed essential in the 21st century. Digital storytelling can be used as a conduit for personal voice, allowing for students to express in images and words what is important to them or their perspective of the world. This can be a way to encourage reluctant writers in a Language Arts or writing class. In other curricular areas digital storytelling can be an alternative method of assessment in that students must research, digest and present a problem, idea or topic in a visual medium.
You might be wondering what a digital story looks like. Well, there are thousands of examples on the Internet, but I’d like to share with you a project I worked on. At the end of last year I was able to introduce two of my colleagues to digital storytelling. They had finished their social studies curriculum and were looking for a culminating project. They were considering a PowerPoint presentation, but had done that earlier in the year. I suggested podcasts or digital stories. They jumped at the idea of my assisting them with a project. So, after tossing around various ideas and sharing tons of examples they chose digital storytelling. The students we worked with were 6th graders; one class who had already completed a semester of computer class and the other who was finishing their semester. The project was scheduled over a ten day period, two of which were used for presenting. Over the ten days the classes used social studies time and computer lab time to complete their projects. Initial class time was devoted to an explanation of digital storytelling, the process, and to researching and writing the story. (Share process documents) The remaining time was devoted to image collection, recording narrations and assembling stories. My colleagues and I chose to have students conduct research on people and events of the American Revolution. Students were instructed to write a first person account of a given event or write about a significant contribution made by their person. Using this narrative, students searched for historical images to coordinate with their story. Lastly, students chose music that enhanced the mood of the story. When designing the project we worked to identify a subject relevant to the curriculum as well as identified state and national standards related to the project. Among the state standards addressed were those related to writing and social science; both of which include the utilization of technology to research and communicate ideas. Additionally, students had to consider copyright and fair use laws when choosing images and music. To facilitate the project and address the various skill levels of the students a project web page was created. (Share project page)During any given period students had access to two or three teachers, the project web page to guide their progress as well as the option of utilizing each other’s knowledge. Upon completion of their stories, students premiered them to the entire 6th grade on the large screen in the gym.Let’s look at a few examples.
These digital creations can be completed with tools and application that are either free or acquired for little cost. Those of you in a Mac school can utilize iMovie and GarageBand while PC users can use Windows Movie Maker or PhotoStory 3 and Audacity, all of which are free! For narrating your digital stories you will need some type of recording device whether it is the built-in microphone on a Mac or some newer PC laptops or something as simple as a straw microphone or headphones with a built-in microphone, both of which start around $15. Those with a budget could incorporate Adobe Photoshop Elements or Adobe Premier Elements and purchase higher end microphones. Those who start a digital storytelling revolution might even consider noise canceling microphones that can run a few hundred dollars.
Image collection can be done in several ways. Students can draw their own pictures, use personal photographs, take their own photographs, or collect images from the Internet. Some popular image resources include MorgueFile, Flickr, and Creative Commons, just be sure to discuss the copyright issues related to the use of online images. Another great image resource is Kitzu which offers “kits” of images, videos, and sounds for academic stories. Students can also find music from sites like FreePlay Music, ccMixter, and The Freesound Project.
The natural application of digital storytelling is in Language Arts, but is can be incorporated into any other subject. Science classes can explain how inventions have changed the world or inform others about a process or event such as monarch migration. Social Studies classes could create stories about how their community has changed or about influential or important people in the community. Art classes could feature master artists while PE or Health classes could create stories on staying fit or eating healthy. When choosing a curricular-based project, teachers should consider creating stories that connect to each other such as different groups describing a historical event from differing perspectives to show how the events affect and connect to each other. No matter how you choose to begin, digital storytelling can motivate your writers and help them find their voice. So, jump in and let the creativity flow!
Show Me A Story
Show Me a Story!<br />Digital Storytelling in the Classroom<br />
What is Digital Storytelling?<br />“Digital Storytelling is the modern expression of the ancient art of storytelling. Digital stories derive their power by weaving images, music, narrative and voice together, thereby giving deep dimension and vivid color to characters, situations, experiences, and insights.” <br />
Digital Storytelling & the Standards<br />Exercise in Writing<br />The Writing Process<br />Brainstorm<br />Organize<br />Voice & Personality<br />Writing Conventions<br />Interest<br />21st Century Literacy<br />