Teaching Digital Storytelling: Part 1

1 August 2011 2,653 views One Comment

What is digital storytelling, and why should a content teacher bother with it? Isn’t this something for computer teachers to be doing with students? Actually, digital storytelling is relevant for any and every teacher – both as a way to create good teaching resources for your class, and as a useful assignment for students when they create their own stories. So what do you need to know about digital storytelling to begin?

Digital storytelling means creating stories, well, digitally – using a computer, as opposed to pencil and paper. Why is this important to point out? Because it means there is no one right way to create digital stories. Many articles I’ve read focus one or two specific types of stories, and tend to use the same kind of software. There is nothing wrong with these methods, in fact they can be a great way to get started. But, as always, the best way to really get creative is to break the mold and find the methods that best meet your particular needs.

Let’s start with the basics. To create a simple story, you need:

  • Pictures that illustrate what you are trying to convey
  • Software to create a story from the pictures
  • Audio (optional)

How to create the digital story: You can put these pictures together using Power Point, or even Windows Movie Maker. Both of these programs are generally found on computers in schools, and if you do not have MS Office you can always install the free Open Office which comes with it’s own presentation software. Simply put a picture on each slide, and you can add background music to each slide or you can record students talking about what’s happening in the picture, or what the picture means to them.

How to share the digital story: Stories can be shared by uploading completed Power Point (or Open Office) presentations to Google docs and making it public, or by uploading movie files generated by Windows Movie Maker to a class Youtube account (you have the option of keeping videos public or making them private).

How to integrate into your class: You can assign students to create stories based on class content, or create your own stories to visually explain concepts from class

  • English: Have kids turn creative writing assignments into visual stories, or interpret books they are reading in a visual way. They can write their own “missing” chapters of books, or write prologues and epilogues to famous books.
  • History: Ask students to research a particular topic from class and present their findings as a visual story as opposed to the traditional written report. This is great for students with weak writing skills, but all students can benefit from working in a different medium.
  • Science: Students can create stories to teach fellow students topics they may be having trouble with. Teaching is the best way to learn!

This is an easy and fun way to turn students from consumers of media into producers!

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/


Elisa teaches online professional development courses for teachers at teachertechtraining.com.
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