Thursday, September 29, 2011

Digital Storytelling

Digital storytelling is an amazing way to capture the attention of students and motivate them to learn a variety of literacy skills such as information literacy, reading literacy, visual literacy, and technology literacy (I'm probably missing others). Students must design, create and present their own digital stories using:

  • research skills - document and find information for the story

  • writing skills - develop a script

  • organization skills - need to manage and complete the task on time

  • technology skills - use a variety of tools such as the computer, camera, scanner, microphone, software and more.

  • interpersonal skills - have to work in groups.

Two years ago I created a lesson where third graders made video book trailers using Photostory. The problem is that it was too time consuming. I see the students 17-18 times a year for 45 minutes and 10-15 minutes is spent checking out books. I end up seeing students roughly 13 hours or less for the entire school year.

13 hours.

I see students more when I coach a sport after school than I see students in the library over the year. So what is meaningful learning? What is supportive? Jeff Utecht in his blog post, Only the Willing, mulls over the meaning of his job and it got me to thinking about my job. What's the most important thing I want kids to learn?

My answer: get them excited about reading!

The video book trailers took up six 45 minute lessons or 30% of my teaching time. Was it worth it? Should I be doing mini-lessons?

I asked grade 5 students to create a video book trailer of our visiting author, Ralph Fletcher. I had a few students say, "Oh awesome! I liked making that in third grade." The real test will be to see what they remember. But what it really made me think about was that I need to build on skills from year to year and get more mileage from my 13 hours. I need to start younger. Maybe digital storytelling is the way to go. I can start with iPads and iTouches in the library and do some type of lesson in every grade. For instance, have grade 4 choose their favorite personal narratives and create a digital story. Or grade 1 students do a retelling on a field trip. I really need to dig into the resources I got at the  Learning 2.011 Technology conference on digital storytelling.

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