Digital Storytelling: Sharing the Understanding

How could digital storytelling be used in your classroom/subject area? This is the question that we were posted this week. At first, I was a bit like “Arg, I don’t want to do this.” And I spent the whole week ignoring the post. That was until Thursday during our PYP Exhibition Workshop we were tasked with taking an element of the Exhibition and inquiring into what it meant. So here I am sitting in the workshop deciding on Action, creating a 1 minute iMovie about action and presenting it. When I sat down after presenting it dawned on me that had actually created a digital story to share with the workshop members.

When I realized that, I also realized that I have used this skill several times in the past with students and that I find it a fantastic way to do several things.

  1. Get inside their heads. In this example, a student is explaining how they solved a math problem. How often do you get to hear a student think out an entire math problem so that you can identify what they were thinking as they made a mistake? How much more powerful feedback could you give students if you could correct only the thinking around the mistake and not have to reteach the entire concept to them. This resource was created using Explain Everything.
  2. Allow them to share their learning before they are able to write. Digital Stories created by students who are developmentally too young to write is an amazing thing. Hearing and seeing what the students create and the complexity of their stories helps teachers to develop their story writing skills so that when they are finally physically able to write they are not trying to do both the learning about how to write a story and the learning about how to write words on paper. This is also a great way for students with motor skill and learning issues to continue to develop the skill of creating a good story without being confined by having to do it also on paper. This resource was created using Puppet Pals Director’s Pass.
  3. Allow students to share what they have understood about a concept. For a final assessment of student understanding in a unit for a Kindergarten class, the students worked as a small group to create a water cycle video. This allowed their teacher to see if they could identify and explain the parts of the water cycle. While this took quite a while to teach them how to do the videos that were produced allowed the teachers to quickly assess the student’s understandings of the concepts. Also while recording there were opportunities to address misconceptions that the students had and reinforce the vocabulary around the teaching. This resource was created using Puppet Pals Director’s Pass.
  4. Allow students more speaking practice when learning a new language. I have seen this be used as a powerful tool to improve language learning in a classroom and had teachers tell me how much faster the student’s speaking skills grow when they use digital storytelling and digital tools to practice their speaking skills. By making digital stories the students are able to all practice speaking at the same time in a classroom. A teacher is able to hear all students speak. The students are able to hear themselves and correct their own mistakes more easily. Making digital stories in language classes also give students more confidence and practice so that when they do speak out loud to their whole class they feel better prepared. This resource was created using Puppet Pals Director’s Pass.

While all of these are great one thing to consider is what do we do with all of these digital stories? As the article, The State of Storytelling in the Internet Age makes the point that while it is now tremendously easier to fact check stories and information on the internet it is also equally as easy to post anything. Leading to comments like

“I read it on the internet” can sometimes be synonymous with “it’s not true.”

So how do we manage all of these digital stories that we are publishing on the internet? Do we publish them to the internet? Do with all of these stories? And how do we keep them from becoming just more static noise on the internet?

I think that this is when we have to teach students the importance of making a story to show a skill vs making a story to share a story to the world. When they are making stories to show a skill they may have multiple low quality digital stories throughout the course of a year that show the progress of their skill, their story making ability, and their creativity.

But do all of the individual stories need to be published or should a final higher quality version be created and shared? How do they know what is a publishable piece? How do they publish it? Should it be public or private? These are some of the key questions for digital storytelling that are just as important to teach students as “How do you tell a good story?”.

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