Monday, June 22, 2009

Ah, the Possibilities of Digital Storytelling

Last year while I was creating the curriculum for my Communications II classes I came across an article on Digital Storytelling that really intrigued me. After reading the article, the possibilities of using this in my classroom began to flood my mind like a broken levee. This was definitely something I could incorporate into my curriculum! Not only would my students get to use their podcasting skills, but they'd need to use their research and writing skills as well.

First I gathered a list of possible topics for students to use for choosing a topic that interested them. Of course I didn't limit them to that particular simply acted as a springboard for ideas. I was totally amazed at the different topics they selected. Some topics were very obvious historical events (i.e. Pearl Harbor, Holocaust, 9/11) while others were very student-specific (i.e. the history of trucks, famous NFL players, extreme BMX biking). The only limitation they had was of their own making - ability and motivation. If they could find relevant information on that topic, they were given the green light to use it for their podcast. And they definitely gave proof to the old adage that "where there's a will, there's a way." Only one of my students gave up on his original topic because of a lack of information. Not because there wasn't enough information to use, but rather because he lacked the motivation to dig deeper.

Once students selected their topic, they were off and running. Most found their information without too much difficulty. I made sure to emphasize the importance of putting the information they wanted to include into their own words. Plagiarism is a huge temptation for students because it is so much easier to use someone else's work than to do it yourself. To drive home this point, I found a passage from a medical journal that used a lot of jargon that only the medically minded could understand. When they said, "huh?" I simply said, "I rest my case." I think they got the point. Why include it in your podcast if you yourself don't understand what it means?

After students had gathered their information (including photo images), they had to map out a plan for their podcast. Planning is key in creating a successful digital story or any other podcast.

Then finally the real fun began - creating the podcast. Students could use either GarageBand or iMovie to create their digital story. I must admit that I was blown away by the quality of their creations. Most were fantastic! Allow me to share a couple with you....

This first Digital Story was created using GarageBand:

Pearl Harbor

This next Digital Story was created using iMovie.

The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln

I am excited about all the possibilities technology offers educators if they'll just step out of their comfort zones and try something new. It isn't easy learning new things, but it is why we do what we do...

we learn so we can teach others what we've learned.


  1. Absolutely agree with your quotation and so glad you shared some of your digital stories. Are you familiar with Wes Fryer? I think you will like his work.

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