“Miss Degelman, Miss Degelman, guess what happened on Saturday!” exclaims Ethan as he runs into the room excitedly after assembly.
“I rented that really good movie for the sleepover tonight,” Anna whispers to Tavah during math class.
“Did you know my sister said her first word yesterday?!” declares Calem to a group of his buddies during lunch.
Children are full of stories. They love hearing stories, whether they come from books, movies, or are told by family, friends, and teachers. And, as demonstrated above, they also love telling their own stories to others. Storytelling is an effective way for kids to reveal and gain true information about the past, present, and future; their families’ history and legacy; their friends’ experiences and jokes; and events happening in their city, country, and around the world.
Children can also listen to and invent their own fictional stories – stories about castles, dragons, and brave knights; pirates and sunken ships; talking forest creatures; spaceships and trips to Mars; dinosaurs and their adventures…
The Land Before Time, anyone?
Last Tuesday, Alan Levine presented some fascinating ideas about digital storytelling to our EC&I 831 class. I admit, I did not know much about digital storytelling before. All I really knew was, “it’s listening to and creating stories using technology…”
As a Grade 5/6 teacher, I am a fan of journaling. Most of the time, I allow students to come up with their own journal topics or present them with a Topic Box. Even when the topic is pretty clear, asking students to write a first sentence is like pulling teeth! Ouch! Instead of going through this painful experience, why not use pechaflickr to brainstorm ideas before the real writing begins? Using the pechaflickr program, a student can recommend a topic to be used for the activity. Twenty pictures (all from Flickr) are then revealed for twenty seconds each. An individual, small or large group, or the entire class can do their best to improvise an oral story that is related to the pictures that are shown throughout this process.
Isn’t this a more engaging way to involve students in their learning and spark creativity? I think so!
A thought occurred to me while writing the last couple paragraphs. Instead of only relying on visual stimuli (Flickr images) to tell a story, could auditory stimuli work for digital storytelling too?
What do you think of when you hear the following melody?
Yes, of course, The Lion King! But, because of the loud vocals, choice in instruments, and changes in dynamics and pitch in the chorus, perhaps you also thought of a celebration, a fascinating discovery, or a changing landscape. We can do this same exercise without lyrics too.
What do you think of when you hear this melody? (If you are not musically-inclined, many instrumental soundtracks from YouTube include a series of images, in case you mostly prefer the activity with visual stimuli.)
Please give it a try. Or enjoy the sound of the piano and relax for seven minutes. 🙂
Animoto anyone? Tara Smith embedded Krista Gates‘ ideas into her post, and mentioned that Krista used Animoto to gather pictures to tell a story about herself. How cool would that be for a beginning-of-the-year assignment?
“To formally introduce yourself to your classmates, I would like you to gather photographs of you and your family, take pictures of any items that are important to you, choose one or two songs that demonstrate your identity and/or personality best, and create an Animoto to show the class in a few weeks.” Now, that’s an assignment!
Why do I say that? This is an exciting opportunity for students to “get their feet wet” when it comes to using educational technology, personalizing their learning by selecting images and memories that are most meaningful to them, and presenting these important moments to the class. Being a student in the Curriculum & Instruction program, I think it is important to note that this assignment could hit the following outcomes from the Saskatchewan Curriculum – pretending that we teach Grade 8 – CC8.1, CC8.5, and CC8.9 in Language Arts and IN8.1 and DR8.3 in Social Studies. Depending on the teacher’s expectations when it comes to selecting and analyzing music, a number of outcomes could be selected from the creative/productive, critical/responsive, and cultural/historical strands of Arts Education.
Like Jason Munro mentions in his blog post, “Everyone Has a Story”, digital storytelling allows students to feel important and develop a sense of belonging in the classroom. Students, especially young ones, may not always be thrilled to listen to a long story about someone else. Digital storytelling presents an exciting opportunity for students to share personal stories and create fictional stories that respond to various genres.
Has anyone used other digital storytelling programs in their classrooms? Which ones would you recommend and for what purpose?