Digital Storytelling Reviews

Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling

I found this a wonderful resource for an introduction to Digital Storytelling. The homepage features a brief video in which a narrator reflects on his life and how media played a critical role in terms of current events. The narration, combined with still images and clips from movies/TV, serves to show that Digital Stories are an impressive and innovative way to share information. The site states that Digital Stories truly range in variety, “from personal tales to the recounting of historical events, from exploring life in one’s own community to the search for life in other corners of the universe, and literally, everything in between.” The site contains examples for a multitude of school subject areas that illustrate this idea. I viewed a brief digital story for To Kill a Mockingbird, (my favorite novel) which brought up the idea of censorship and asks readers to evaluate the novel’s themes. This digital story featured stills from the movie that to me, capture the very essence of the book. I feel that these images and the quotes included will also strike a powerful chord with students who view it. Other useful information included the seven elements of digital storytelling, as well as how one can use them in the classroom. I particularly loved one Powerpoint that defined the different types of digital storytelling as well as how it could benefit both teachers and students in the classroom. These ideas gave me confidence to try and incorporate this technique into my classroom. One possible assignment could be for students to choose a book that we have read, highlight the thematic concepts, and connect such themes to society today. They can present their findings using a digital story that would incorporate image/sounds associated with their topic. When we read Night, I could also have students create a digital story in which they give me a brief autobiography of their life, or of one moment of particular importance in their life. This would tie nicely to the unit revolving around autobiography. Posting these stories on a class wiki or blog would be a wonderful way to share their creations. I really do see myself taking full advantage of the tools presented on this website.

50+ Web 2.0 Ways To Tell a Story

This source serves as a workshop that will help people “to experience the creative aspects provided by the web tools.” This wiki explains how to generate story ideas and share the story by using over 50 different web tools. I found this website to be extremely user friendly. It is written in simplistic terms, so virtually anyone who wants to tell a story and share it with the world can do so. The author gives great tips on how to brainstorm storylines, as well as ideas for images, sound/voice clips, etc. He suggests having all of these elements prepared, as well as outlining the text for your story, before searching for media to support the story. Personally, I did not know that sites for, what he calls “Commons Media”, even existed. These are sites that offer images, sound clips, and videos that will not violate copyright laws if used in your story. His list is very comprehensive and offers many options. I will certainly share some of these sites with my students, so they do not have to worry about forgetting to cite such things while infringing on the copyright law. The final step in making your story an actuality is to decide on which web tool you want to use to create it. He lists over 50 tools, and uses the same story, a touching one about him and his dog, with each tool. Even better, he lists pros/cons to each tool as well as categorizes them based on certain features. I had no idea that there were so many media tools out there simply for the purpose of creating stories that use multimedia. In terms of my classroom, I could easily see using his method to highlight the importance of brainstorming/outlining. Often times students do not give the proper amount of time to preparing for their story. Even more so, they do not take the time to go back and make changes to their original plan. If I had them do a brief story (15 slides), while managing text, audio, and visual, I think that they would see the importance of putting the time into the process in order to get a really fantastic product. I think that this hands on approach to creating a story, instead of just having them write one on paper, would truly captivate their interests. On an even more positive note, it might actually result in a love for writing!

10 Technology Enhanced Alternatives to Book Reports

This article is written by Kelly Tenkely, a technology teacher, and explores tools that use technology as an alternative to writing book reports. As a 9th grade English teacher, there have been times when I have been asked, “Do we have to do a book report on this?” I never realized just how dreadful book reports appear to students. Kelly even goes so far as to say that it forces “readicide: the systematic killing of the love of reading, often exacerbated by the inane, mind-numbing practices found in schools.” We certainly don’t want this to happen! This article provides excellent alternatives that demonstrate student comprehension of the text. Two ideas jumped out at me immediately—they were having my students use Glogster and Creaza.

On Glogster, students can create a virtual poster for any topic. To tailor this to my needs, I would have my students make a poster for novels that we cover in class. On their poster they would give a tagline that would make people want to read the book or a very brief summary. They would also include the characters and possibly list thematic concepts. I loved how students can use fun fonts and format the page to include photos and video clips related to the topic. As I do not teach the same book to each class at the exact same time, I would love to use these ads to promote the book when I introduce it to the next class. The fact that it was made by fellow students is even more of a bonus! The second web tool I loved was Creaza. Here, students can make comic books or even short movies. The tutorials were easy to understand and the sample products were amazing. I already have the students make a comic book using Shakespearean language, but instead of them drawing it, I now want them to use this website. You can customize everything—characters, background, font, color, images… the sky’s the limit. Aside from my Shakespeare project, I often give students assignments in which they have to write an alternate ending or create a new scene for our novels. Students could easily combine their original text with images to create a more visually appealing and creative product. As far as the video portion goes, I enjoy the idea of students creating trailers for books. In my head I see this coming together as a group project, culminating in a period in which we watch the trailers and possibly even give out some kind of trophy (as you would see on an awards show) for the class favorite. Again, these were just two ideas from this article that are brimming with possibility I will certainly recommend this site to other teachers at my school, because the featured resources can morph into projects way beyond the scope of just an English classroom.

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