Digital Storytelling – Part I

Storytelling has been a great part of our school year, which is already winding down. From…

  • telling about our and Jose, the travel bear ‘s adventurous stories live while in Egypt
  • outfitting EVERY classroom in our school with their own digital cameras, so teachers and students could create a visual of their daily activities or create a visual of a learning concept
  • creating a collective knowledge story across grade level and subject areas demonstrating what students have learned
  • Life ‘Round Here project, where students assumed the point of view of an object and narrated
  • Creating printed books that narrate the daily life in the classroom, special visits and fieldtrips and the physical and academic growth of the students throughout the year.

…to Professional Development in Technology for VoiceThread , Mixbook , PhotoStory , Audacity , and MovieMaker .

Image by CaptPiper

The National Storytelling Network defines:

Storytelling as an ancient art form and a valuable form of human expression

Storytelling is also an ancient form of teaching . Before books, reading and writing became widely spread and available, oral storytelling was the only form the wisdom and knowledge of the people were passed down from elders to children, Nowadays, technology has given us a new twist to this ancient teaching method. By incorporating once again storytelling to paint a picture of our world in order to teach others about our knowledge, culture and people. Digital storytelling gives us the ability to reach and disseminate further our stories than ever before in history. Storytelling, no matter in what form and created in whatever media is a powerful tool to transmit knowledge, culture, perspectives and points of view.

Daniel H. Pink in his book A Whole New Mind says

We are our stories. We compress years of experience, thought, and emotion into a few compact narratives that we convey to others and tell to ourselves. That has always been true. But personal narrative has become more prevalent, and perhaps more urgent, in a time of abundance, when many of us are freer to seek a deeper understanding of ourselves and our purpose.

We wanted to capture with our school wide storytelling theme:

  • a moment in time
  • a moment in a certain geographical place in our world
  • a moment of perspective, that perspective being from a foreigner, a distinct age group, an outside observer, an expert, a teacher, a learner, etc.

The National Storytelling Network explains that:

Storytelling is the interactive art of using words and actions to reveal the elements and images of a story while encouraging the listener’s imagination.

  1. Storytelling is interactive.
  2. Storytelling uses words.
  3. Storytelling uses actions such as vocalization, physical movement and/or gesture.
  4. Storytelling presents a story.
  5. Storytelling encourages the active imagination of the listeners.

All these components together make a great recipe. It creates an opportunity that allows students to truly use cross-subject skills and knowledge. Students can be creators of new stories, but also listeners of stories created by others who are unlike them. These components can be adjusted and appropriately tuned by the storyteller to the age level and knowledge of the intended audience. Wherever there is a story told, there are listeners exploring new worlds, scenarios and developing critical thinking skills to connect them to their world and their own experiences.

Mark Turner in his book The Literary Mind says that

The literary mind – the mind of stories and parables – is not peripheral but basic to thought. Story is the central principle of our experience and knowledge. Parable – the projection of story to give meaning to new encounters – is the indispensable tool of everyday reason. Literary thought makes everyday thought possible. This book makes the revolutionary claim that the basic issue for cognitive science is the nature of literary thinking.

Storytelling is a useful teaching tool, not only for language arts subjects but sciences as well. Mark Turner continues explaining that

A Story is a basic principle of mind. Most of our experience, our knowledge, and our thinking is organized as stories. The mental scope of story is magnified by projection – one story helps us make sense of another. The projection of one story onto another is parable , a basic cognitive principle that shows up everywhere, from simple actions like telling time to complex literary creations

New technology tools allow us to connect , communicate and collaborate easily with others around the world. Stories are all about these three C’s and lend themselves naturally to create a bridge between teaching and integrating technology. Digital Storytelling is tool that can support teaching and learning in any subject area.

  1. We connect on an emotional level with people and events in stories and we connect them to experiences in our own lives.
  2. Stories let us communicate our perspective and perception
  3. Stories are usually a collaborative effort of stories’ characters, their actions and points of view. Stories that have been passed down through generations allow voices from the past be intermingled with voices from the present. Remixing and re-makes of stories add new twists, new perspectives, new

From ancient teaching method, adapted to today’s digital native students and available technology tools, digital storytelling is combining the best of both worlds.

Through Adobe’s Digital Kids Club, you can read about the following Baker’s Dozen Digital Storytelling Skills written by Bernajean Porter in her book “Digitales: The Art of Telling Digital Stories

Below are brief definition excerpts from Chapter 4 — “Storying Around for 21st Century Skills” — of DigiTales: the Art of Telling Digital Stories. The following skills have been identified and cross-referenced with National Standards, NETS-S, and 21st Century Skills.

  1. Cognitive Apprenticeship — practicing real-world work of digital communication
  2. Creativity and Inventive Thinking — creating multi-sensory experiences for others
  3. Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) — going beyond existing information to add personal meaning and understanding
  4. Enduring Understanding — by telling the story of what you know and understand for others, authors deepen their own self-meaning of the topic
  5. Visual Literacy — using images to show, not tell, the narrative story
  6. Technical Literacy — mastering the craftsmanship of applying the technology tools to create powerful communication, not to just use the tools, but to mix and dance the media into illuminated understandings
  7. Information (Media) Literacy — thinking, reading, writing, and designing effective media information
  8. Effective Communication — reading and writing information beyond words
  9. Multiple Intelligences and Learning Styles — addressing not only the opportunity for students to use their preferred mode of learning and thinking, but also enabling them to practice the effective use of all modalities
  10. Teaming and Collaboration — growing skills through practiced opportunities to co-produce group projects
  11. Project Management Mentality — Melvin Levin’s challenge for students to practice time management of complex, involved tasks to successfully meet deadlines modeling real-world tasks
  12. Exploring Affinity — Melvin Levin’s findings that when students create meaningful, engaged work, they discover themselves as successful learners.