Monday, 11 June 2012

The magic of digital storytelling

I love digital storytelling.  Love it!  Digital stories are a great entry point  to technology for students and teachers alike.  Story telling is such a central part of being human, and has been since ancient times.  We have a need to learn the stories of those around and before us, and a desire to share our own stories.  What people used to draw on cave walls is now posted to Facebook walls.  Digital storytelling refers to short (less than 8 minutes) productions, including various media like photographs, music, personal narrative voice,and video woven together to tell a story.  The story can be fiction, non- fiction, a personal narrative or an imaginative tale. Not only do digital stories nourish our human souls, they also encourage 21st century literacies skills like collaboration, creative thinking, technical ability, visual literacy and effective communication. 
Digital stories are both a great presentation tool, as students love to see and hear themselves in “video” and a great support for student’s story development.  Sometimes, students can get lost in their own writing.  They can ramble on, muddy the story progression and in the end not really tell a story with a beginning, middle and end.  But give a student a storyboard, and ask them to pick relevant images, music and sounds to compliment their story, and very quickly students recognize the clarity or lack thereof, in their story, and can edit and revise to improve their ideas.  
Digital story telling is also very motivating.  Naturally, in any classroom, you will have students who are reluctant writers.  The allure of publishing writing in an unconventional way often draws these reluctant in and often reveals an amazing creativity that got lost in words.  Students of any age are inspired to tell their story.
I have created digital stories with students from kindergarten to grade nine.  The results are always wonderfully beyond expectation.  Another great aspect of digital stories is that they can be as teacher supported as needed.  It is a great whole class modeled writing and creating activity, great for small group writing, and a worthwhile individual project as well.
The MOST important component to successfully crating digital stories in your classroom is teacher planning and preparation.  As the guide, the teacher needs to walk through the process and ensure that everything will move smoothly.  A teacher must consider the level of her students, and plan for interventions and supports accordingly.  Also, a teacher should test out each step of the production process, making sure all cameras work, the software is ready, microphones are compatible and the network can handle the projects.  If not, chaos will ensue!
To help guide my own process, the book Digitales by Bernajean Porter (an ISTE Award recipient by the way).  The book provides background and context to our story telling nature as well as practical steps about how to make digital storytelling happen.  Her website, is a treasure trove of information.  Bernajean catogorizes different types of “digitales”, such as “Itza Wrap” to showcase a personal experience and “docudramas” which use storytelling to explain a fact based concept, and on her site, there are many examples of different digital stories.  The website also includes a wiki with ideas, examples, research and step by step instructions.  On top of all that, there is a well developed rubric making tool to guide your assessment.  
If you are thinking of creating digital stories, check out this site!

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't agree more, Theresa. Stories are where it all begins. I think one of the hidden truths in all of this is that your kids also need to see that you are a story-teller. It goes way beyond modelling. It's about values. You care enough about stories to be one of the people who share them. Your students will definitely notice and respond. Loved your post!