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Digital Storytelling

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Keywords: Creative, Digital Storytelling, Stories, Writing
Subject(s): Video, Technology, Writing, English/Language Arts, Spelling, Grammar
Grades 5 through 12
School: Williamsburg Christian Academy, Williamsburg, VA
Planned By: Pattie Bowen
Original Author: Pattie Bowen, Williamsburg
Grade Level - 5
Subject:Language Arts
Duration: 2-3 weeks

SOL: VA 5.8: Writing: The student will write for a variety of purposes: to describe, to inform, to entertain, and to explain. VA 5.2-Oral Language: The student will use effective nonverbal communication skills. VA 5.3: Oral Language: The student will make planned oral presentations. VA 5.4: Reading: The student will read fiction and nonfiction with fluency and accuracy. VA 5.5: Reading: The student will read and demonstrate comprehension of fiction. VA 5.8.7 Use available technology to access information.
Related SOL: 5.8.1, 5.8.2, 5.9.8, 5.9.9, 5.910, 5.9.17, 5.8.10

Essential Knowledge and Skills: Students need experience writing short descriptive/creative paragraphs in order to write the longer short story.

Materials needed: Laptops, Scanners, Overhead projector, head phones, art supplies, and paper.

Vocabulary: Movie Maker, audio files, wav files, extensions, jpegs, scanner, laptop, program files, student folders, drives, original illustrations, creative, short stories, CD’s, projectors, video, video effects, transitions.

Assessment/Expected Outcomes:
Stories will be read, edited, and graded by teacher prior to technology component. Additionally, peer editing, and self-assessment will be used prior to recording stories.


Lesson Overview:

Students will create original stories based on any topic in which they have an interest. Stories need to be at least 2 handwritten pages long. The audience includes kindergarten reading buddies. After writing the stories, the students will create 10-15 illustrations that depict their story. (If preferred, the teacher can allow the students to create electronic images using software owned/licensed by the school, or the teacher can allow the students to use digital cameras to capture original images.)

The students will use Digital Recorders to create an audio file of their story. Students are encouraged to include as much expression and creativity as possible to present their story in audio form. Students will scan illustrations, saving files as jpegs for use in Movie Maker. Students will use Movie Maker to import audio files and jpegs. Students will use Movie Maker to create a media file that can be burned to a CD/DVD. The published version of these stories will be presenting the stories using the projector/screen/speakers in ITS system. Reading buddies will attend the viewing of these stories. Each child will have their own CD to keep after this lesson for use in their personal portfolios as they move to middle school.


Students will use nonlinguistic representations of their stories through their illustrations. The illustrations will serve as a way for the students to summarize the written stories. Students will work together to create audio/wave files and jpegs of illustrations. Peer instruction will further enhance the learning of the use of the technology needed for this lesson.


Students will present Movie files of creative stories for classmates, teacher, and reading buddies. The evaluation of this aspect of the lesson will include self-assessment after individual story is presented. The teacher grades the written version of the story. The “Movie” version of the story will be graded based on the student including certain elements of Movie Maker. All students should be successful in this aspect of the project providing they include illustrations, audio file, at least 2 transitions/video effects, a title screen, and a rolling credit at the end of the movie.

Lesson Narrative:

The emphasized SOL is designed to develop a student’s writing abilities. Additionally, there are several SOL’s that can be addressed while focusing on 5.8. The teacher should not use this lesson as an introductory lesson. There should be a number of minor writing lessons used prior to this lesson.

1. Student will write a creative story. The story should include an understanding of setting, plot development, and character development (protagonist and antagonist). The story should be at least two pages long (but there should not be a maximum length).
2. The story should be edited and graded based on an appropriate writing rubric prior to the creative/multimedia portion of the lesson. Peer editing should be used.
3. Student will illustrate the creative story using paper and basic art supplies. Students can work on illustrations as soon as the story is written. The student should create 10-15 illustrations to depict the story.
4. The teacher will use Elmo/Wolfvision to show simple illustrations from published works. The teacher should show simple illustrations.
5. Student will record the story. Student may use digital recorder or microphone/headphone combination at desktop/laptop. The recording software for the laptop/desktop is Audacity. If the student uses digital recorder, the audio file must be converted to a WAV file using the digital recorder software.
6. The recording (WAV file) should be edited in Audacity. The teacher should demonstrate the use of Audacity using the ITS system. The teacher should explain the function of Audacity using the projector, screen, laptop. The edited file should be exported as a WAV file.
7. The student will scan illustrations and convert all images to JPEG’s. The teacher should explain the different extensions for image files. The teacher does not need to teach this. The teacher should simply use the terms: jpeg, tiff, gif, and bitmap. The teacher should explain that these are extensions.
8. The student will use Movie Maker to create a movie version of the story. The teacher will demonstrate Movie Maker using the ITS system using student files as an example. After modeling, the teacher will have the students use the Interwrite tablet to import images into Movie Maker and to import audio files. The lesson should include a step-by-step lesson having the students complete the same tasks after the teacher models. An open discussion to guide each student will serve as teaching tool for the software as well.
9. Students should create a title slide and a credit slide.
10. Teacher will model how the students can animate the information included on those sides.
11. Teacher will then model how to import audio file into the timeline. Teacher should then use the ITS system and the speakers (sound emphasis) to move illustration files and sound file to match the movie.
12. After students complete “movie” files, the final presentation should include students publishing movie files. The movie files should be viewed on the ITS system, allowing the students to find and present the final movie.
13. If possible, each student should receive a CD with their movie file. The CD/Movie file can become a part of the student’s portfolio.
This lesson engages the students. Students don't want to stop editing their stories, improving their artwork/images, or editing their Movie Maker file. This lesson exceeds teacher's expectations for student's writing quality and student's effort. I have had students write their stories for their "reading buddies" in Kindergarten and then present their stories to those students including the reading buddies' name in the credits. This promotes this project and its benefits beyond the student creator.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
This lesson can easily be used by teachers in both social studies and language arts. Students can write a story about a specific time period or event in history and create the electronic story. Likewise, students can use this same lesson with many subject areas, but collaborative work with the language arts teacher promotes stronger writing assignments.
I found having the students create a "movie premier" encourages further creativity and promotes oral skills. Students present their stories to the class, parents, and students from other classes. Presentation skills are enhanced and the stories have even more meaning.
Materials: Word Processor, Flash/USB Drives, Batteries, Digital Voice Recorders, Point and Shoot, Mobile Labs
Other Items: 5 Microphones/headphones, $ 69.00 each, total of $345.00
5 Scanners, $ 99.98 each, total of $499.90