Advice for Developing your Elementary Computer Lab Curriculum
How to Incorporate Digital Stories in the Classroom
Incorporating digital stories in the classroom may seem like an intimidating prospect for some teachers. But storytelling has been a part of the human experience for thousands of years. However, how we tell and experience these stories has evolved tremendously. Education by nature is an evolutionary experience. Because of this it is important for teachers to embrace technological advances and learn alongside their students.
Today’s students are very visual learners and work best when they are able to have an interactive experience. Digital storytelling does this, but it can be a complex process. Because of this, it is up to teachers to break it down so that students take notice of the different skills required to create a multimedia experience. The following components are writing, photography, videography, reading aloud, and various web based skills. In some instances students may participate in all these activities or teachers may give them a place to start. For example, they may show students a photograph and lead a brainstorming or concept mapping session that will help get them started.
In the concept mapping stage, students decide on what type of story they want to tell. They can either bring in photos of their own, or they can find photos on stock photo websites that will lead them to a concept. If students find photos online, they should learn about fair use and copyright so that they are not using an unauthorized image. Here, everything is thrown against the wall, and students find a concept they can work on. They may want to tell their own story, or make one up. Taking notes and having a general outline will help them get started.
Pre-writing and Writing
Even when dealing with visual media, good writing skills are still important. The structure of writing is different in a digital story because no one frame can be overloaded, and the frames overall should maintain a sense of balance. The writing should be done with the visuals in mind. Student may be assigned different sections to write, and they can help edit one another’s work in order to help assure that the story will sound smooth and entertaining. Teachers can check the student’s work and offer suggestions on how to get the final draft to be the best it can be.
Creating Slideshows or Video
For younger students, slide shows are easier to use in a digital story. These can be laid out and placed in an order that co-relates with the written story. Short video clips can be incorporated too. Students might want to record a video introduction, and then use slides for the remainder of their digital story presentation. Some of this will be done in the concept mapping stage, but once there are drafts of the story written it may be necessary to either add on additional photos or pictures, or take them out where they no longer fit. If students cannot find an appropriate photo, they can also draw pictures that represent their story.
Recording the story
To give digital stories that “oral tradition” feel, students can record themselves reading portions of the story in a narrative fashion. Sometimes the story may be straight reading, and other times different students can actually play characters in a story. Although it is not quite a movie, a digital story displays many of the elements of a movie or play and can help students develop acting skills as well as a way to connect with an audience and their peers. Digital stories segments are manageable so only short clips will need to be recorded. For most projects, Windows Sound Recorder will be sufficient. Students may also do some recording on their smart phones when they have them available.
Adding Music and Effects
It is likely that students will notice the similarity between making a digital story and making a movie, and many may want to add sound effects aside from their own voices to the story. If it is a windy day in the story, wind noises can be added to the background. Intense music can be added to the serious parts of the story. Background sound can enhance the final product, but it shouldn’t be used to to the point where it overshadows the story.
Putting it together
With various social media, there are many ways to take digital stories in the classroom and put them into the wider world. Of course, privacy issues are always a concern. Parental permission should be obtained before posting to social networks, and private channels should be used.
There are several ways to put the final touches on a digital story. Using the digital story software, the different components can be layered together in order to smooth out the entire project. Teachers can decide if they want each student to take on a single component, or if they want each person doing a little of everything. Regardless of which approach is taken, students will learn the importance of collaboration in making something they can be proud of.< show all "Technology in Education" articles