Sunday, June 27, 2010

Beyond Digital Storytelling

The first session I am attending is a bring your own laptop session. The resources for the workshop are found at Each of the session presenters introduced themselves, and one I have followed for a while via his blog One of the other presenters introduced us to a blog I thought would interest Captain Orange, who frequently comments on this blog. It's a vegan and technology blog

The team's main point: Many times we teach digital storytelling without explaining storytelling well. Each talked about how telling stories in a variety of forms is important:
The shortest distance between truth and a human being is a story - Anthony de Mello
Other key ideas:
  1. Framing the story. The group discussed how each story has a story spine. I liked the part where they talked about the value of improv in building the story (close to my heart as Drama and English teacher). They did a sample improv for the group and then had us develop stories in small groups by framing. It was a good way to involve the audience and helped us to see that the spine of a story is easy to create. They also showed us a video that uses the storytelling spine - a funny anti-smoking ad. They also took us through a series of writing prompts and version of circle stories I have used for years.
  2. Expanding the story. The framing is not enough. They talked about the frame of StarWars is not as good as the whole narrative. They did not use this bunny video - but I think it illustrates their point. they used the StarWars example to show that expanding and growing stories makes them richer. They asked us to think of a story that is important to you. I thought of Wolves in the Walls. We each drew one word from each other's story, and then on the drawing we got back, wrote things that were like the story and not like it. The wolves I got back looked a lot like book, but the act of like and not like helped us to get all the adjectives and verbs associated with the main idea. I liked this activity and would use it again.  The presenters also talked about some of us did this digitally and others used paper and how the tool you use doesn't matter - it is how well it meets your needs. They showed is 5 card Flickr for storytelling. I have used it before and people like it so muck they won't move off it.
  3. Stories worth telling. If the story is good, students care about it and return to it - that's a good subject and it focus the story on what is most important. They also remember the content. The team talked about sharing the stories as an act of creating relevance - stories worth telling. Go to the digital story only with those stories that are really relevant to your students or the heart of your curriculum. They showed us a series of pictures that students created about how they learn. I think it would be a great idea for collegiate renewal to do in terms of student voice. The first picture on their stories worth telling page  illustrates it.
  4. Sharing the story. This section could have been better titled tech tips, as it covered a variety of how-tos. I would have liked more on how to share it so it is part of a community or gets found.
  • On PD- The team talked about how getting teachers to make a photostory and sharing it with a group of teachers is powerful way to help teachers grow their narratives (see a sample of a teacher's photostory with a given prompt). The group's website has how to's for the tools you need. 
  • On sound - One nice tip they gave was how to reduce ambient noise in the room - like by putting kids behind a barier made of electronics packaging or in part of a box lined with cardboard egg cartons. Carpet scraps also make a great liner for quiet sound spaces.
  • On using your voice - they showed us a a great video to illustrate the point that how we say things makes what we say more or less powerful:

They also shared a poem by the same author, Taylor Mali, on proofreading. It is a poem I know students would love, but the last line might be an issue in some classes.

Two tools I'm going to play with -  I'd like to use is Comic Life. I tried the free download (it is a 30 day trial). I have avoided it in the past because it is a pay version eventually, so not great for all. However, I thought it would be great for the Collegiate Renewal team, as we use comics for our major posters. I wanted to use it to make my digital story, but the defaults in my machine are set to a network drive, and the download doesn't allow me to change it, so I couldn't install properly.  I also saw a bit a Aviary - a free Google Ap. I'm not sure I'd recommend use of it as school as it is very intensive on the bandwidth, but I know some of my readers could use it at home. I had to settle for building a simple comic strip.

Once we were done learning the structure, they gave us time to build us a story for our selves and circulated to help us. We published stories on - I have used it before with students because they can call the number and record themselves creating their audio stories using a cell phone.


  1. Had a look at some of the tools you mentioned. Aviary looks cool, but I didn't see anywhere a mention of it being owned by the big 'G'.

    Thanks for the link to the vegan site. I'm reading with interest.

  2. I think it is a recent aquisition based on what the presenters said.