Tonight, I set aside some time to do some readings. I decided to start with a magazine I receive regularly called Middle School Journal. It was very convenient that the first article in this edition was about technology in the classroom, more specifically, digital storytelling.
The article examines the question: How can teachers capitalize on student interest in quick and quirkly video clips as a way to help connect to curriculum? As pointed out in the article, videos, posts and emails pass quicker from person to person than the common cold. Think about how fast this video went around the net. Our students now grow up with an enormous amount of technology in their lives. This technology has in fact changed the way our students communicate, interact, learn, and process information. So, how do we teach to this generation? Use the technology!
Tyler Binkley is a middle years teacher who is using digital storytelling as part of his math class. He has set up many youtube videos for his students to access for all concepts. Digital storytelling, as explained in the article, is the art of combining narrative with digital media such as images, sound, and video to create a short story. This is ingenious to me. I spend time researching sites and links looking for great clips to use in my math class, and this first year teacher just creates his own!
Some of the ideas he has used for digital storytelling are book talks, math tips, retelling of historic events etc. These types of projects help the students connect the curriculum to the media aspects of movie making such as point of view, narration, dissolves, fade-outs, cuts etc. I can now understand how using technology in the classroom fits in with curriculum. This type of project does not seem overwhelming to me. I can see my students reading a novel of their choice and creating a two-minute trailer to promote the book. This includes outcomes from the English Language Arts curriculum as well as Practical and Applied Arts and incorporates technology in the classroom. I don’t necessarily need to know it all either. I could very well solicit the help of our educational technology department and I am sure the kids would be able to figure a lot of it out on their own. In the article, Binkley also used Ning so that students could review each other’s video and post comments. The “director” could then go back and make changes before submitting the final product. Brilliant!
What I especially like about this article is a quote from Dewey (1902) where he challenges educators to meet students where they are. I needed to be reminded of this in order to fully appreciate the importance of what we are doing in this class and to realize how important technology truly is to our learners. I don’t pretend that this is always easy. I myself have already had many frustrations, however I have also learned a lot and hope, not only to keep meeting the children where they are in my class, but encouraging other educators to do the same.
If you have ever used digital storytelling in your class, I would love to see some or hear about them. What do you think about the practicality of this application in the class at your grade level? Where can you see it being used by teachers or students?