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Digital Storytelling September 28, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — sjphipps @ 9:20 PM
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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?


6 Responses to “Digital Storytelling”

  1. Hello Sarah,
    Exciting times for learners and educators alike!
    I am having a great time learning AS an educator. I have been making mini movies of my drama students performances for many years but only this year have started a new kind. Firstly, as a food tech teacher I posted a very
    mini dem on an Asian soup (all on my iphone) and secondly, this term students will produce one of their own – like a masterchef dem of a
    cooking skill! They are keen as mustard 😉 I have
    only just started so very asic but you are welcome to take a look here for an example.

  2. nice post…really started me thinking about how i introduce digital storytelling to my undergraduate class of preservice teachers. DS can be used effectively in just about every class or content area. cheers

  3. I work along with Wesley Fryer in providing educators across the state of Kansas professional development in creating digital storytelling projects. You can find several of @wfryer’s resources at as well as in this LiveBinder I have created for use in our pd sessions. This is the same binder I use with my pre-service students in our digital storytelling lessons.

  4. I am hoping to get Alan Levine as a guest in this course to discuss digital storytelling as I think it’s an incredibly important topic. If you haven’t seen this, do check out Alan’s 50 ways to tell a story.

  5. Blognasium Says:

    Hi Sarah. I love the fact that the quote from Dewey is ancient and yet still applies. I agree that we need to try and meet the kids when it comes to technology. I think it helps if you are a teacher that can relinquish the power. The great part of technology and kids is that they can teach us a great deal as well.

  6. tmemann Says:

    Wow, I just checked out Tyler’s YouTube channel and I am impressed that he has taken the time to create these videos for his students. It is an interesting idea that allows students to access information outside of his classroom, as needed. Sort of reminds me of the Khan Academy video lesson idea. For me this is a new way of looking at digital storytelling. I always thought of it as more something the students created but in this case I suppose the “story” is the math concept and the story teller is the teacher. I agree with you that it would be great to incorporate digital storytelling into my classroom. Thanks for this post as it has sparked me to do some looking into the possibilities.

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