imgres-12Digital Storytelling Playground – ISTE 2016

Ten years of my teaching career were spent teaching third-grade writing.  During this time, I quickly learned that the best way to motivate children to do their best writing was to incorporate technology.  The moment I told the students they would use the iPad to publish their work, the quality of their work completely changed.  It went from vague and lackluster to colorful and engaging.  As a result, when I saw the Digital Storytelling Playground at ISTE 2016, I knew I had to visit. The playground took visitors through the process of creating digital stories, beginning with planning.  So often teachers bypass this critical step forgetting that digital stories must follow the same preliminary procedures as their non-digital counterpart.

storytelling-arcThe teachers at the Digital Storytelling Playground recommended using a story arc to begin each lesson.  The Story Arc takes writers through the elements of a story.  When students first begin writing stories, they often begin titles such as “The Day I Got a New Puppy,” or “The Day I Went to the Waterpark.”  Many students fail to recognize that these stories often leave out the elements necessary for a compelling story.   Beginning lessons with the Storytelling Arc helps students identify stories that would interest others.

Once the Arc has been explained, the teacher must make a choice about the purpose of the activity.  Is the purpose for the students to practice writing skills or is the purpose for students to simply understand story elements?  If the teacher wants her students to use this opportunity to practice writing skills, students should write a draft and/or script of the story.  Organizing the story on paper (or word processing document) allows children to compose their thoughts while also practicing critical writing skills such as spelling and grammar.  However, teachers may simply want to assess a child’s understanding of story elements themselves.  In this case, a teacher can use a more streamlined approach –storyboards. Storyboards can be made at Storyboard That, a free website.

Publishing

Publishing is the next step and the logical location to insert technology.  Current technology provides a wealth of opportunities.  The Digital Storytelling Playground suggested a few ranging from simple to complex.

  1.  Students draw a series of pictures on separate pieces paper that tell their story, much like a comic strip.  Using the camera on the iPad, students hold the iPad over each illustration while telling the story.  Students slide each new picture under the lens as the story progresses resulting in a story told in the students own words using their own illustrations.
  2. Toontastic – This free app on the iPad allows students to tell their stories using  both pre-drawn characters and background or student-created characters and backgrounds.  Students animate the characters while telling their story resulting in an animated story told in the student’s own words.close up greenscreen
  3. DoInk – Students can draw their own characters on paper or act out the characters themselves in front of a green screen. In order to avoid distractions, drawn characters can be attached to and moved with green sticks or the storyteller can use green gloves to manipulate characters. This technique allows the stick and gloves to disappear into the green environment.
  4. Book Creator — Students can write their story in a book format.  Illustrations can be imported from the camera roll, taken with the iPad camera, or drawn in the app.  Text is added and students can choose to record their own voice reading the story.
  5. iMovie – Students produce their story in iMovie, creating a short movie.  Movies can include sound effects and music as well as special effects like transitions and animations.

Other apps and programs that can be used for story creation are:  Sock Puppet, Telestory, Comic Book, PowToons, and LittleBird Tales. To view the complete list offered by the Digital Storytelling Playground, click here.

To read detailed reviews:

Toontastic

Mindprint – Expert Review of TeleStory by Launchpad Toys

Green Screen by Do Ink

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