Category Archives: Digital Storytelling

Digital Storytelling: What it is… And… What it is NOT

I was lucky to have shared my childhood bedroom for a few years with my grandmother, when she had come to live with us after an illness. At bedtime, she would tell me stories of her parents and three brothers and growing up in East Prussia, fleeing to the West after WW2 and the things that occupied her mind. I was hooked on storytelling. The fascination grew when technology became available and opened up possibilities that were just not possible before. I would give anything to have been able to record my grandmother’s stories and have shared them with my own children years later.

Humans are natural storytellers. It has been THE FORM of passing on knowledge from generation to generation. Storytelling existed in some shape or form in all civilizations across time. In the 21st century, which we have the luck to live in, Digital Storytelling, has opened up new horizons, inconceivable without the use of technology. Storytelling is evolving, as humans are adapting, experimenting and innovating with the use of ever changing technology, the growth of human networks and our ability to imagine new paths.

Maybe as part of a natural process, we tend to stick first to the familiar and “substitute” our task (see Ruben Puentedura’s SAMR model). Substitution is not enough to explore and experience the potential of digital storytelling.

Over the years, I have seen in classrooms and created myself many stories, that are:

  • merely substitutions to what I could/have done/told in analog ways
  • created in isolation, without any connections to a larger concept, idea or community
  • created only to be read by a teacher for a grade, without the possibilities of ever reaching a larger audience for feedback or being able to take its place as a puzzle piece of a larger picture/story

digital-storytelling-is-NOTIt is NOT about the tools… it is about the skills [bctt tweet=”Digital Storytelling is NOT about the Tools, but about the Skills”]
Digital storytelling is not about how to use VoiceThread or iMovie. It is not about the ability to create an MP3 recording and adding it to an XML file, so people can subscribe to our podcast channel. Digital storytelling is about different types of skills we are developing in the process, such as:

  • writing, speaking, communication skills
  • oral fluency
  • information literacy
  • visual literacy
  • media literacy
  • language skills
  • auditory skills
  • drama Skills
  • presentation skills
  • listening skills
  • publishing skills

Examples:

It is NOT about creating media… it is about creating meaning [bctt tweet=”Digital Storytelling is NOT about creating media, but about creating meaning”]
Smartphones and other mobile devices have made the ease of filming, recording or taking images easy, available anytime & anywhere as well as relatively economical compared to earlier times. The amount of media that is being created and uploaded per minute is exponentially growing and mind blowing. Although there is value in contributing your perspective to a larger pool, the emphasis of the stories we share through different media is about creating meaning and about making that meaning visible to others, not about the act of creating the media itself.

Examples:

 

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

It is NOT only about telling a story… it is about contributing and collaborating with others [bctt tweet=”Digital Storytelling is NOT only about telling a story, it is about contributing and collaborating with others”]
Digital storytelling is not only about telling the story, but tapping into the potential of being a contributing perspective, example, unique experience to a much larger story. The question grows from “How can I tell my story?” to “How does my story fit in and add value to the stories of others?”. How do we create a much larger story comprised of individual stories?

Example:

    • Sherlock Holmes and the Internet of Things (Thank you to Alan Levine for the project link)
      “Sherlock Holmes & the Internet of Things is an ongoing prototype developed and run by the Columbia University Digital Storytelling Lab that explores new forms and functions of story. Designed to be an open R&D space that experiments with shifts in authorship and ownership of stories, the massive collaboration also uses a detective narrative to examine the policy and ethical issues surrounding the Internet of Things. The goal of Sherlock Holmes & the Internet of Things is to build a massive connected crime scene consisting of smart storytelling objects.”
    • Twitter Storytelling
      Learning how to create “Snippet Stories”,use simultaneous narrators and fractured storyline, co-telling by using #hashtags, sharing with your network and adding value to other people’s learning
      Ron_Gould_on_Twitter____Time_travel_works___the_note_read___However_you_can_only_travel_to_the_past_and_one-way___I_recognized_my_own_handwriting_and_felt_a_chill__
    • Collaborative Storybook: Florida Explorers

It is NOT about telling an isolated story… it is about sharing and connecting experiences and perspectives to a community [bctt tweet=”Digital Storytelling is NOT about telling an isolated story… it is about sharing & connecting experiences & perspectives to a community”]
It is a powerful realization that we all have something valuable to share with others. Digital storytelling takes that isolated story, living in our thoughts, potentially shared with people we know or meet face to face and connects it with a much larger community.

Examples:

  • 7Billion Others
    In 2003, after The Earth seen from the Sky, Yann Arthus-Bertrand, with Sybille d’Orgeval and Baptiste Rouget-Luchaire, launched the 7 billion Others project. 6,000 interviews were filmed in 84 countries by about twenty directors who went in search of the Others. From a Brazilian fisherman to a Chinese shopkeeper, from a German performer to an Afghan farmer, all answered the same questions about their fears, dreams, ordeals, hopes: What have you learnt from your parents? What do you want to pass on to your children? What difficult circumstances have you been through? What does love mean to you?
  • Looking For Stories (Thank you to Alan Levine for the project link)
    “Looking for Stories” is an online documentary web serie where Joan Planas (filmmaker) document stories from people and places around the world using video, photography and articles. We don’t judge the stories. We show them respectfully just as they are, trying to gain a better understanding of the world we live in.
  • Extend Learning

[bctt tweet=”Digital Storytelling is NOT only about the transfer of knowledge… it is about the amplification of our voices”]
While the transfer of knowledge has always been a primary reason for storytelling, the importance of the amplification, the reach of our voices is what makes digital storytelling transformational
Through social media, our potential connections, collaboration and dissemination paths can reach exponential levels. The reach of our voices is about the amount of people our stories are capable of touching. We have moved from an audience of one or a few in a face to face environment to a global audience through synchronous and asynchronous tools.
Even young children (with the help of parents or teachers) can find their voice and be heard! Traditional limitations of age, physical handicaps, financial limitations preventing traveling or a lack of social network connections in the physical world, don’t have to limit someone’s voice any longer.

Examples:

  • Kristallnacht- Night of the Broken Glass: By taking a story written down by my grandfather:
    • translating it into English
    • adding a visual dimension with images
    • an auditory layer by adding my voice and music
    • publishing it to a digital platform and
    • strategically sharing it publicly, I was able to amplify my grandfather’s story/experience and voice past his lifetime.

 

It is NOT about substituting analog stories… it is about transforming stories [bctt tweet=”#DigitalStorytelling is NOT about substituting analog stories… it is about transforming stories “]
Taking an analog story, which is written in text form on a physical piece of paper, told with printed visual material or with a voice to someone sitting in the same room as the storyteller and digitizing it with the help of tech tools does not take advantage of the full potential of digital storytelling. If we are truly looking to transform what stories are and can be in the digital world, we need to look beyond recording a story from a piece of paper or animating our photos from a field trip into a music video. We could dip into the world of transmedia storytelling and look how audience participation, seamless movement between different media can propel a story forward, engage the audience on multiple layers and change the storytelling process altogether.

Examples:

  • Inanimate Alice (Transmedia Storytelling)
    Inanimate Alice is an interactive multimodal fiction, a born-digital novel relating the experiences of Alice and her imaginary digital friend, Brad. The series is written and directed by Kate Pullinger and developed by digital artists Chris Joseph and Andrew Campbell from an original idea by series producer Ian Harper. Episode 1 was released in late 2005. There have been five consecutive episodes created to date with a sixth in production, from a planned story arc embracing a total of 10 episodes spanning Alice’s life from age 8 through to her mid-twenties. The viewer experiences a combination of text, sound and imagery and interacts with the story at key points.

Digital storytelling is NOT just a story told/created/published on a digital platform. What are your experiences and examples in creating new forms of storytelling with digital tools?

Global Project: Visualize Poetry Around the World

visualize poetry around the world

Description of Project:

Based on Taylor Mali’s visit to The American School of Sao PauloMeryl Zeidenberg and I were inspired to amplify students’ poetry writing by adding a visual and audio layer as well as connect them globally to other students’ poems.

We are launching  the Visualize Poetry Around The World project and are looking forward to connecting teachers and students, bringing global awareness and encouraging them to look beyond their own backyard and their own perspective.

global-awarenessObjective:

  • Encourage students’ global awareness and their ability to share their traditions and experiences based on their cultural heritage or geographic locations
  • Support Third Culture Kids and expats to express their unique experiences through poetry and make the advantages and challenges of International living accessible to geographically rooted children and vice-versa

TCKs.jpg

rooted.jpg

Process:

  1. Become a member of the project by joining the wiki. Questions? Contact me
  2. Become familiar with or already have familiarity with Taylor Mali’s lessons/poems/workshops.
  3. Become familiar with project objectives, expectations, timeline & mini-lessons
  4. Complete task

[ There is no specific beginning or ending date for this project. Each teacher contributes his/her students video poems on their own time to the wiki platform. All we ask is that part of the commitment is to share, connect and give quality feedback to other students’ contributions ]

Task Breakdown:

  1. create poem
  2. find/create images & record voice
  3. publish on project wiki
  4. connect and give feedback

Expectations:

  • expect quality student work using poetic devices
  • students create poem based on one or more of the provided prompts
  • students visualize poem with quality images and overlaying poem text with author’s voice
  • strict observance of copyright conventions and citations.
  • contribution of final student work to collaborative platform
  • participate in feedback of student work.

Time Commitment:

  • up to 80 minutes- write poem
  • 80 minute class: Students present their poems to class (teacher and peer feedback). Students re-edit after feedback.
  • up to 2 -80 minutes class periods digital production

Third Culture Kid Poem Example

TCKs.jpg

I am from…

I am from Germany, Argentina, USA and Brazil

I am from Germany. From the warm Bretzel with melted butter and the sound my shoes make when going for a walk in the dense forest.

I am from Argentina. From the crowds on Florida and Lavalle and the smell of a Bife de Chorizo at a friend’s asado. I am from the smell of Jasmine as I step off the colectivo on a warm Spring day in early December.

I am from the United States. From the smell of salty and buttery popcorn at the movie theaters. The wide streets and gigantic parking lots that fill up to capacity after Thanksgiving.

I am from Brazil. From the language that is almost understandable, but different as if listening under water or with glasses of the wrong prescription strength. I am from feeling almost close, but through the fog so far away.

I am also from lighting Hanukkah candles as I am smelling Christmas in the air and buying Charlie Brown Christmas trees on the 24th day of December.

I speak German, Spanish and English. Ich bin from Argentina y el vos. I am from speaking in all the 3 languages in one sentence without having to be held hostage by staying in one alone.

I am from leaving on a gray, cold and rainy day in October in autumn. Racing along the runway, up up into the sky towards spring air and towards a country far away and forever closer to me.

I am from arriving after a 24 hour journey to a tiny village, at the foot of the Katzenbuckel- The Cat’s Arched Back” where my grandmother anxiously awaits at the door, welcoming the return of the world travelers.

I am from changes, the differences, the friends made along the way. I am from the opportunities to see wonders of the world, tasting, smelling different ways of life. I am from the different faces of the world and history.

I am neither from here nor there or even there. I am destined to be torn forever between Fernweh and Heimweh, from always being far from.

Geographically Rooted Poem Sample

rooted.jpg

I am from the United States – New Haven, CT- where the imposing, old, stone, university architecture validated my fairy tale-laden child mind.

I am from the warm, loving scent of Aunt Martha’s cookies baking in the flat below.

I am from the one mile, all weather walk, to and from elementary school, where urban flora stubbornly persisted through sidewalk cracks.

I am from the grassy field of the local schoolyards where the kids from my street gathered and grew up, after school, until the street lights flicked on.

I am from the marvel and curiosity of tales from the old country spun out in a mixture of Yiddish and English around my grandmother’s kitchen table with the men drinking schnapps, the women tea.

I am from learning French because it is a “romance” language.

I am from learning Portuguese because of a Brazilian romance.

I am from the security of knowing my way around and where everything is.

I am from the frustration of not knowing the the colors, smells and sounds of everywhere else except from books and movies.

Ready to participate? Head over to the project wiki to sign up.

Documenting FOR Learning

I am a documenter, I have always been… maybe it is in my blood…

…from keeping diaries from an early age on, being the family letter writer, to taking pictures to document our lives, vacations, family and friends… even when it was tedious… (taking 24 or 36 exposures at a time, then taking it to a photo store to develop them and waiting a week to being able to pick them up).

family-historian

I am the family historian, creating family albums, chasing and writing down family tree connections….I am the storyteller… repeating family stories… so my children and grandchild(ren) will know where they came from…to not let voices of the past quiet down and disappear…

…so maybe it is in MY blood…but… even if it is not in YOUR blood… as an educator… take another look at the purpose and effect of documenting FOR learning…in my opinion, documenting serves a larger…big picture purpose in education…

Documenting FOR Learning is:

  • a supporting piece for the study of self-determined learning–> Heutagogy
  • a strategy, approach and technique to facilitate learning–> Pedagogy

documenting for learningI see documenting as:

  • a process of intentional documenting serves a metacognitive purpose
  • a creative multimedia expression (oral, visual, textual)
  • a component of reflective practice
  • taking ownership of one’s learning
  • a memory aid
  • curation
  • professional development
  • being open for feedback

While I have, until now, primarily seen and used documentation for my own and other’s professional learning by documenting student learning and learning/teaching strategies, one of the take-aways from a workshop I attended  recently with Ben Mardell, Making Learning Visible, was that documenting student learning in the classroom is an integral component to inform the direction further instruction and content is to take.

Intentional educational documenting  is multi-layered and can serve teachers, students and schools/districts:

  • Teachers
    • to share best practices with colleagues
    • to make teaching available for students outside of classroom hours
    • to inform further instructions
    • to reflect on their own lesson plans, delivery and teaching pedagogy
    • to gather and showcase their teaching portfolio over time
    • to evaluate student progress, growth and for assessment
  • Students
    • to articulate (via different forms of media) and showcase their learning
    • to become aware of their own learning growth
    • to gather and archive their digital work via E- portfolios
    • to build their footprint in a digital world
  • Schools/ District
    • to a certain degree in their marketing efforts
    • in parent / community communication
    • to attract like minded potential employees
    • to provide Professional Development
    • provide documentation and examples to linked curriculum maps

I use the following types of tools for documenting:

  • Video
  • Photos
  • Sketchnotes
  • Notes (traditional/annotated)
  • Tweets
  • Backchannel
  • Blogs
  • Slide deck
  • Screenshooting and – casting
  • Mindmaps

A very interesting article, titled Pedagogical Documentation  (pdf) from the Ontario’s Capacity Building Series by The Student Achievement Division supports the notion that pedagogical documentation helps students take ownership of their learning, challenges teachers to

“see children differently. Different kinds of demonstrations of learning moved us all beyond what we had come to expect, and led us to a place of valuing each child’s contribution. What was made visible was the learning process of children , their multiple languages, and the strategies used by each child.”

When googling “pedagogical documentation“, many hits are returned regarding the Reggio Emilia teaching approach in  early childhood.

In Reggio Emilia, teachers make records of events in the life of the school as a tool for research. This has come to be known as ‘pedagogical documentation’ because of the important role it has in supporting reflective practice. (Dahlberg et all. 1999: 144). Pedagogical documentation consists of records that are made for the purpose of pedagogical research.

Pedagogical documentation could be described as visible records (written notes, photos, videos, audio recordings, children’s work) that enable teachers, parents and children to discuss, interpret and reflect upon what is happening from their various points of view, and to make choices about the best way to proceed, believing that rather than being an unquestionable truth, there are many possibilities.

Beyond the benefits in early childhood, I did not find much in regards to Documenting for Learning with older students (K-16) and adult learners as part of their professional development.

What are your thoughts? What type of research have you come across? Have you conducted action research in your own classroom? With your PD? What are the benefits/disadvantages? Should documenting have an “official place” in our overall learning toolbox? Should documenting be part of every work-and learnflow?

7 Billion Others: How are we Different? How are we the Same?

7 Billion Others… There are seven billion other humans living on our planet. How do they live? What is important to them? What makes them tick? Do they live similar than me? Are they different than me? How?

These questions intrigued Ana Paula Cortez, one of our Portuguese teachers at Graded, the American School of São Paulo, and compelled her to explore them with her students.
prep

Inspiration7billionothers.org

In 2003, after The Earth seen from the Sky, Yann Arthus-Bertrand, with Sybille d’Orgeval and Baptiste Rouget-Luchaire, launched the 7 billion Others project. 6,000 interviews were filmed in 84 countries by about twenty directors who went in search of the Others. From a Brazilian fisherman to a Chinese shopkeeper, from a German performer to an Afghan farmer, all answered the same questions about their fears, dreams, ordeals, hopes: What have you learnt from your parents? What do you want to pass on to your children? What difficult circumstances have you been through? What does love mean to you?

Forty-five questions that help us to find out what separates and what unites us. These portraits of humanity today are accessible on this website. The heart of the project, which is to show everything that unites us, links us and differentiates us, is found in the films which include the topics discussed during these thousands of hours of interviews.

Objective: Raise awareness of culture and interconnectedness of common themes/threads that connect humans no matter of their cultural origin. Take advantage of our multilingual students to share and connect speakers of different languages.

Students: 7th & 8th grade Portuguese Language Learners

Project Idea: Middle School students create a video (testimonies, journal type) responding to pre-set prompts from 7billionothers.org (love, happiness, work).

Future extension idea: personalize the prompts by tweaking to address specific middle school topic…. friends, family, what do you want to be when you grow up….)

Process:

1. Discuss video filming techniques.. observe the ones recorded on 7billionothers.org

  • Framing
  • Angle
  • Stability
  • Background

prep3

2. Watch Testimony videos (students get to choose)

7billionothers

3. Discuss and record prompts

  • students answer the same prompts (practice orally with a partner (ex. dreams, family, country, happiness, fears)
  • record the video talking about the specific prompt (keep it short 15 -50 seconds). Students get to choose in which language (Portuguese/English/Mother tongue)
  • add subtitles in Portuguese/English/Mother tongue depending on the language they chose to record the video in
  • upload and embed  to their blogs
  • write a reflection about the chosen prompt (not on video technique) and publish (Ex. Gaetano, Clara, Ivanna, Seo-Hyun, Laura, Francisco, Jason, Juan Pablo, Andrew )

prep22

prep4

4. Amplify original prompts and videos

  • brainstorm additional prompts ,what would same age kids in other countries be interested in hearing their opinions about?
  • finalize and choose new prompt to film
  • record thoughts (less than 30 seconds) Language: your choice
  • Add subtitles in Portuguese/English/Mother tongue
  • upload and embed to blog, publish

Future Idea (next school year starting August 2014):

  • having example videos, invite classes from around the world to contribute to the same prompts

Looking for Global Partner Classes

  • Are you up for it?
  • Can you see how your students could articulate, communicate and contribute to a more global understanding of “What separates us? What divides us?” How are we different? How are we the same? from the perspective of a Tweens and Teens?
  • How can you connect this to your curriculum objectives and standards? World languages, Technology standards, Media Literacy, Global Literacy, Network Literacy, Information Literacy…

Leave a comment (make sure you receive notification of follow up comment and/or fill out your email box in the comment form) if you are interested and want to be notified next school year to be part of the amplified project.

Poetry on Record

Inspired by Poetry, Performance & Taylor Mali and Beyond…, 8th grade Humanities teacher Shannon Hancock coached her students to create their own original “Mali Poem”and record a visual and vocal performance.

I joined the class to give a brief overview of presentation design. I used selected slides from my slidedeck below to talk about image quality, typography, white spaces, metaphors, rules of third, etc.

What type of tools could students choose from to heighten the message of their original writing with sound effects, vocal effects, music and images?

Movie Editor &  Presentation Tool Combination

  • First start out by creating slides in a presentation tool, such as Haiku Deck (web based or on the iPad), keynote or PowerPoint. Add relevant images that represent and support your poem mood,  text and message. Haiku Deck will automatically search within the Creative Commons domain for images and add the proper attribution citations on each slide for you. If you are using another program, search for Creative Commons, Public Domain images and give proper attribution for each image used. As always, you are encouraged to take your own images to use.
  • Keep presentation design principles in mind: more image, less text, rules of third, quality images (high resolution photographs)
  • Export the slides as individual images. When in Haiku Deck, export as a PowerPoint File, then save as jpegs (all slides). You can also take screenshots of each individual slide and save as images.
  • Drag and drop exported images into movie editor software (iMovie or Movie Maker) timeline
  • Add transitions, sound effects, voice recording, music
  • Export movie project as a movie file
haiku-Deck
In HaikuDeck
Enter text, Search and choose images, Select a layout for your text
ppt
In PowerPoint or Keynote
Export individual slides as images
ppt2
Under option, choose “Save Every Slide”

If I am everything that I ever touched…. from langwitches on Vimeo.

Animoto, Voice Recording & Presentation Tool Combination ( Animoto is limited to a 30 second video as part of the free version)

  • First start out by creating slides in a presentation tool, such as Haiku Deck (web based or on the iPad), keynote or PowerPoint. Add relevant images that represent and support your poem mood,  text and message. 
  • Keep presentation design principles in mind: more image, less text, rules of third, quality images (high resolution photographs)
  • Export the slides as individual images.
  • Upload images to Animoto (note how long the video clip ended up being)
  • Record an MP3 file (ex. Audacity, Garageband, etc.) of you reading your poem (make sure the length of your recording is the same length as the video clip)
  • Before you produce Video, click on pre-chosen song and then choose to upload your own “song”(audio file)
  • Produce video

animoto-uploadsong

I am from

In the end, all students chose not to use Animoto due to the length of video limitation. Haiku Deck was a big success, since looking for quality images and the citation was made easy ( I wish many more web 2.0 tools, would make it as easy as Haiku Deck to observe copyright while not sacrificing the quality of the images)