What is Digital Storytelling?
Digital Storytelling is a way for people to tell a story digitally, whether it be combining pictures and narration in a slide show, combining pictures and music, basically using digital media (pictures or video) to tell a story. The story can be told with written words, narration, or music.
Why use Digital Storytelling in your classroom?
Digital stories can be whatever you want them to be, there is no set ‘rule’ for what the product needs to look like. It can fit what you need. Having students find pictures (taken with a digital camera or found online) that illustrate what they are saying forces kids to think deeply about the message they want their story to tell. Finding music to accompany the pictures and video also forces kids to think about what feeling the story should give the viewer. Digital Stories add rigor to a project, forcing kids to think deeper.
What story will your students tell?
Digital Storytelling lends itself easily to English and Reading, but can be used in all subject area. Here are some resources and ideas:
Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling
Creative Educator – Advanced Thinking in Digital Storytelling
Integrating Digital Storytelling in your Classroom Resources
How to Use Digital Storytelling in Your Classroom | Edutopia
Middle School concepts that students can create a digital story with:
English – poetry, persuasive writing, perspective
Reading – book advertisement, perspective of a character in a story
Math – geometry all around us, math in nature
Science- biomes, periodic table, planets
Social Studies – historical figures (tell story from person’s perspective), historical events, cultures, tour a country
Health/PE – PSA style story based on health/wellness, sports history
Performing Arts – music history
Without good planning on a student’s part, the end result will be lacking. Setting your students up for success with digital storytelling is a must. As with any project, you need to determine what information your students need to gather for your project. If there is a story that must be read, answers to a questionarre you created, or online research (for information) that needs to be acquired, this all must be done prior to beginning to put together the digital story. Here is a sample ‘checklist’ students can follow (with an approximate length of time):
- Prepare (read story/textbook, fill out questionarre, information searches, etc.) – time varies
- Complete Storyboard with required information - 1 to 2 days
- Find pictures/video/music needed for story – 1 day
- Use software to create your story – 2 to 4 days
I have found that creating a checklist printout for students that the teacher ‘signs off’ on at each step ensures that your students are completing all necessary steps with the information and at the level that you are requiring of them.
There are teachers that feel #2 and 3 should be flip flopped. This all depends on the type of story your kids are telling and how you see the steps making most sense for your project. This list above should be rearranged, shortened, expanded, or changed to fit the specific needs of your project and students.
Having the students complete a storyboard gives them focus and direction when they are actually creating their story. You can use any storyboard you find online or create your own. You do want to include things like “picture used” and “narration script” on the storyboard so that all the student has to do is follow their plan. Here is a sample of the storyboard many teachers on our campus have used.
Finding Pictures, Video, and Music
If the students have an idea about what type of picture/video/or music they want to use, this step will take much less time than if your kids don’t have a plan.
Tips for finding pictures:
students should not copy pictures from the internet and paste them into word. They must download the picture. Also, the larger the saved picture is, the better it will look in their finished project. Many times a thumbnail of the picture is shown; clicking on the picture usually brings up a larger version – this is the picture that should get saved.
Most videos downloaded from the internet (if you have RealPlayer 11 installed and have the download button activated, a download button will appear above almost all videos) will be of the .flv file type. You can then use a file coversion website like http://media-convert.com to convert it to .wmv or .avi file. If you want to have your students include video the production portion will need to be done with a video editing program like Windows Movie Maker (will be discussed in a future post).
Any music brought from home or found online should be of the .mp3 file type. A great site to get free instrumental music: http://freeplaymusic.com
A note about downloading media:
As with any digital project, please determine your policy for citing pictures, music, and video. Always be sure to give credit where it is due.
Creating the Story
There are many options you have when creating digital stories. You can use a video editing program purchased by your school, or free software such as, Windows Movie Maker (iMovie for mac). If you are not including video, Photostory 3 is a free program by Microsoft that makes creating a slideshow with pictures, narration, and music a snap. If you would like to have your students create a poster style project, Comic Life is an amazing program that is easy to use as well.
This tutorial focuses on Photostory 3. This program is easy to use and walks students thorough each step of the process. A 5 minute run through of the program will give your students enough of an introduction that most will not need any more assistance. Here is a short tutorial that may help as well.
The final product is a .wmv file. If you plan on uploading the file to a website, you may need to convert the file. Use a site like http://media-convert.com or file conversion software (if you plan on uploading to my.ccsd.net you will need to convert the file to .mov). **CCSD Employees – Don’t forget that prior to posting student work online the student(s) must have a Media Release Form on file.