Digitally Yours…

I love stories.  I just finished a good 45 minutes (maybe longer?) of analogue storytelling with my 21 month old daughter – that kid loves a story! (She also can say “iPad” and knows how to find the apps for kids that she likes by herself, much to our chagrin!). But how about in class?  How do I use storytelling of the digital kind?

Last week, I shared the video that I had created for my grade three classes on Coal and Electricity.  I took a written explanation that one of the teachers had created and I set it to photos, icons, and a catchy tune.  It was remarkable to me to see the depth of understanding that arose from simply speaking a story aloud and adding pictures to support the text.This was created using Adobe Voice. I had planned on learning a new tool for the purpose of creating this but time got the best of me so I stuck with what I knew.

With my fourth grade students, we were creating a digital story on the topic of migration after interviewing a friend or family member.  We used Keynote and spent a lot of time looking at transitions, adding a voice-over, and choosing background music (from the totally great site Jamendo which offers CC licensed music).

One of my favorite stories to read as a read-aloud is Wonder by R.J. Palacio.  Her book is magnificent and if you teach grade 4-6 it would be great for your kids.  It is a book that I hope won’t ever be made digital because the print version is just so good. But what I do love, is the amazing work created by a fan of the book to curate the pop-culture that is referenced in the book and to provide a digital companion library of videos, pictures, soundbites and more that are mentioned within each chapter.

Working with EAL students and native English speakers it is important to remember that we don’t all share the same cultural backgrounds.  Some references that seem commonplace to those born or living in NYC (riding the subway) are completely foreign to someone who commutes to school by (bare)foot in rural New Zealand.  This digital companion to the book is so great to share with kids to get everyone on the same page.

I think the thing I have started thinking about more is the idea of embracing different types of media in order to tell a story.  Last week I mentioned the idea of creating instruction cards with links to videos.  This week, I made a set of cards that link to instructional videos explaining ‘how to’ use the app.  These are located for students to scan and find out the information for themselves.  The QR codes take the students to the videos made by the app creators but in the future I would love to see the students creating these stories to share with each other.

Click here to download PDF of all QR codes
Click here to download PDF of all QR codes

Last Friday I led a Teacher Talk at our school on Understanding by Design.  This is a 45 minute time slot in which a teacher is asked to present on the topic of their choosing. I have long been a fan of UbD but wanted to revisit this so picked this as my topic.  While not exactly a ‘story’, I did attempt to tell the story of UbD with an emphasis on the assessment component.  I shared the following slides and these were the only notes that I had.  As I progressed through the slides, the images and few words were all I needed to keep the story going. Digital Storytelling?  Maybe?

Understanding by Design – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

The Learning Technology teacher in our Middle School, Mitch Norris, does some great work with iBooks and his kids.  When creating their stories, Mitch has them use the digital tools to elevate the story beyond what could be done with the printed story. I like this idea.  He encourages them to embed video, use the zoom feature, add sounds and music to enhance the message digitally.

This post has a great series of tips for Digital Storytelling along with a great exemplar of a girl’s struggle with a medical condition at a young age.

I just read John’s post and the point that really resonated with me was the idea that we have to have a story to tell. I think once you know what you want to say, finding the pictures to support your ideas and blending it all together will fall into place.  In this regard, ‘storytelling’ and ‘digital storytelling’ really aren’t that different – they both begin with something worth sharing.