Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Digital Storytelling across the curriculum

In September this year, I gave a couple of lectures to pre-service primary school teachers majoring in languages education and creative arts at the University of Sydney. In these, we discussed how digital storytelling not only supports language and literacy development in important ways, but also how it can be used to engage learners in other curriculum areas. To illustrate, here are some examples of digital stories created by students in primary and high school. I have also included some made by teachers in order to teach content.

Personal stories

Here is the script of 'My Back Yard' - a digital story of place written by Charlotte in year 3.

This… is my place. From my house you could see the built-in sandbox and play-space that my parents and I created together. We also had a beautiful vegetable garden. At certain times of year, my vegetable garden would grow taller than ME! Our backyard was like a park. The bridge was the start of a trail, which went across a stream. And the trail wrapped around trees, bushes and rocks until it came to an opening at the bank of the Farmington River. Being a little girl at the time, no matter which direction I turned my place seemed as big as the moon. My brother and I were there every minute to help our place grow, and ride that cool tractor. Now every time I look at this picture, I wonder if this swing is waiting for me to come back and take it for a ride in my place. (Banaszewski, T. (2005). Digital Storytelling: Supporting Digital Literacy in Grades 4 -12. Unpublished Master's Thesis, Georgia Institute of Technology, p. 56)

In this 'i-imagine' story told as if reflecting back from 20 years in the future, Dani, in year 6, talks about how she realised her aspirations to become a Broadway choreographer.

Works of fiction

Dot's Adventure by Andrew in year 2 is the tale of a rabbit's escapades. The images are made using plasticine.

Stories that explore content

Crikey! Frogs by Madeleine in year 2 is an informative story about frogs and toads that incorporates her own hand-drawn illustrations.

While there is no link to this digital story created by a group of students to describe a maths experiment, Jason Ohler refers to it in his book Digital Storytelling in the Classroom.

'Buffalo' is a 'docudrama' created by a group of students on a visit to a museum in Nebraska, USA. In one day, their task was to bring an aspect of the museum to life using a first-person narrative and incorporating lessons learned. This fabulous story is told from the point of view of the buffalo as a species.

Digital stories that teach content

The following digital story, 'A Molecule's Journey', was created by a primary school teacher in Illinois. It is told in the first person, from the point of view of a molecule, talking about its 'jobs' in the water cycle, and its aspirations to one day work in the 'big city' (the ocean).

Digital storytelling has also been used to introduce learners to mathematical concepts. Here is a story about Pythagoras and the significance of his theorem.