Storytelling is an ancient art form that has been passed down from generation to generation. What makes a good story is its ability to draw in the audience while meeting specific objectives. A story becomes effective when the storyteller can stimulate all the senses of the listener while benefiting the various learning styles. In today’s age of technology, “Digital storytelling is the practice of using computer-based tools to tell stories.” (Univ. of Houston, 2011). It “brings the art of telling stories to life using technology.” (Tech4Learning, 2007).
I would like to refer back to the topic of my very first blog posting, where I was assigned the task of discussing whether we, as educators were doing what was best for our kids or what was most convenient for us. Yes, taking the time to allow our kids to create digital storytelling projects takes effort, but after personally involving myself in the integration of technology a little bit at a time at my school, I am already seeing the excitement from some of my teachers, as well as the creativity from our freshmen class. So, is it all worth it? ABSOLUTELY!
We are a K-12 school where we have installed Mimio boards and two PC’s in each classroom. We also have a fully-equipped computer lab with 28 centrally-contained desktop computers. In my position as our school’s media specialist, I feel a great obligation to absorb and learn as much as I can about integrating technology into the classroom. I feel that I have a tremendous responsibility to share what I have learned with my fellow teachers, as well as with our 280 students. I am happy to report that our 9th grade class is currently working on a Geography project using PowerPoint or Prezi. They are discovering Creative Commons photos online and citing their sources like it’s second nature. The kids are already coming up to me telling me how much fun they’re having learning new ways of doing class projects. I even have one student taking a Florida Virtual Geometry class who actually submitted a Prezi to her teacher for one of her assignments. The following is a list of “effects of technology on classrooms and students” and I am seeing these effects play out in front of me on a daily basis (Dept. of Education, n.d.):
- Change in student and teacher roles
- Increased motivation and self-esteem
- Technical skills
- Accomplishment of more complex tasks
- More collaboration with peers
- Increased use of outside resources
- Improved design skills/attention to audience
So, what is my plan for digital storytelling in my classroom? Even though I am the media specialist, I still consider myself a “classroom” teacher, as I am not only involved with being a resource for our teachers, but I teach specific computer skills to our elementary students. So, with this in mind, I decided that I would combine my classroom objective of teaching how to create a presentation using PowerPoint with a collaborative project involving two of our elementary classrooms.
The project I came up with is called “How Do I Do That?” Every year our 5th grade class teams up with our Kindergarten class and are assigned individual reading buddies who meet once a week to read together. I thought this would be a tremendous opportunity to have our older students teach our younger students a skill using digital media. So, I have created a pre-planning document that the 5th graders will use to interview our Kindergarteners in order to find out a skill or talent that they want to learn, (for example: tying their shoes, playing a game, making a craft…the list is endless).
Then, the 5th grade class will get together and decide the top 5 skills that they want to teach. We will use computer lab time to work in 5 groups of 4 where the 5th graders will create a “How To” presentation using PowerPoint to demonstrate the steps in how to accomplish the skill. Prior to the students actually working on their presentations, I will show them examples of “How to” videos, well-done PowerPoint presentations, and my own Prezi, in order to help them visualize the elements of their project. I will also teach them that within the PowerPoint, they will use sequencing steps, text, audio, photos and video effects to enhance their presentation. Here is just one video example that I will show the class on how to teach someone a skill. The video that they create in their group can then be uploaded into their PowerPoint presentation:
Tech4Learning (2007). Digital Storytelling in the Classroom. [Web article]. Retrieved from http://www.tech4learning.com/userfiles/file/pdfs/Frames/digital_storytelling/ds_classroom.pdf
University of Houston (2011). The Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling. [Web article]. Retrieved from http://digitalstorytelling.coe.uh.edu/index.html
U.S. Department of Education (n.d.). Effects of Technology on Classrooms and Students. [Web article]. Retrieved from http://www2.ed.gov/pubs/EdReformStudies/EdTech/effectsstudents.html