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Digital Storytelling - My Special Story

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Keywords: Digital Storytelling. personal narratives
Subject(s): Art, Technology, Writing, English/Language Arts
Grades 4 through 6
NETS-S Standard:
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
View Full Text of Standards
School: Robinson School, Starksboro, VT
Planned By: Frank Spina
Original Author: Frank Spina, Starksboro
This Unit Plan will bring students through a series of 7 lessons that will enable them to develop technical skills both in writing personal narratives and employing digital hardware such as iPads to create multi-media slideshows capable of reaching a diverse audience. There will be two essential questions to guide their work:

1) Why would an event in your life that you feel is important be interesting or important to someone else?
2) How do you make a story that is important to you worth telling
and interesting to others?

As a result of this work:
Students will know:
• that digital storytelling is an art form that uses the spoken word, images and sound to tell a story; • any story must have a point/big idea that is important to the author;
• the author somehow convey the importance of their main idea to their audience;
• there are aesthetic choices to be made that will enhance their story, such as: sequence, choice of images, choice of soundtrack, the quality of the narrators voice. Students will also know that digital stories are another way to communicate ideas, knowledge, important experiences and learning; an interesting story needs to take into consideration the needs of the audience that will view it; a good story is one that the author feels has an important message to tell.

Lesson Sequence:
Step 1: Exposure to Digital Storytelling – Essential Question: How is digital storytelling different from writing or telling a story? Time: one forty-five minute block Resources: Equipment - Computer with internet access, speakers, projector;
Links: Scott County Schools - http://www.scott.k12.ky.us/technology/digitalstorytelling/studentstories.html Activity – conduct a guided viewing of several examples of digital storytelling followed by discussion.

Step Two: What is the point? Focusing question: Why is the topic you have chosen for your digital story important to you and why would it be interesting to an audience? Resources: Writing Journal Activity: 10 minute write - Each student will begin a journal entry about a topic he/she feels strongly about, one that is worth telling. Students should be prepared to justify the choice made. Over the course of the next few days each student will be interviewed by the teacher and asked to defend the choice of topic. Students must also explain why the chosen topic would be of interest to someone else. It is more important that students go through this process than have a checklist of items that will show they have made careful considerations.

Step Three: Concept Mapping Focusing Question: What are the big ideas, important points that will carry your story from beginning to end? Resources: Writing journals, art paper and colored markers or computers with concept mapping
software such as Kidspiration. Activity: Students will construct a web or outline for their digital story. They will do so in much the same way as they would a writing project. Students will be asked to map out the important aspects of their story, indicate what is the underlying goal or idea to be communicated to the audience and indicate any emotions or feelings to be generated in the audience. Finally, students should sequence the map by indicating with numbers the progression of the story from beginning to end.

Step Four: Planning – choosing the images: Focusing Question: What images do you need to tell your story? Resources: Red Clover Book nominees (any two where the illustrations and text support each other particularly well); computers with simple photo editing software (for clipping, red eye etc.); scanner; digital camera(s); optional - DVD of any major release movie that has added features that highlight the planning stages where artists storyboards are used.
Activity: Read two Red Clover books and discuss with students the way the illustrations and narration work together to tell the story. Frame the discussion of these print materials around the following elements of digital storytelling which should be discussed beforehand:
• Point of View – Who is the narrator and why is he/she talking to us?
• Dramatic Question – Desire – Action – Realization –What is the underlying theme of these stories and how do the text and images work together to convey it? • Emotional Content – What are the emotions associated with the narrative?
• The Gift of your Voice – What does your narrator sound like or, more directly, how did the reader use his voice to convey ideas, emotions, mood, etc.
• The Power of the Soundtrack – If this story had a sound track like a movie, what kind of music would best set the mood of this story?
• Economy – Keep it short and succinct – What details were included that were not important to the story? Were there illustrations or phrases that took your focus off the main idea/theme?
• Pacing – The rhythm of the story helps set the tone – Did you sense a pace or a timing to the way the story was told? Did the pace change at times or was it consistent all the way through? In another session view examples of digital stories created by students and discuss using the same criteria with minor adjustments to the language. The following site has some excellent examples of student work at this grade level including Practice Makes Perfect:

criteria will now form the basis of a rubric or checklist for all the digitized work that students will produce. Students can now be asked to begin to choose images that illustrate the important ideas contained in their concept maps. Resources could be personal photos, images downloaded from websites; illustrations/art work that is student generated or digital photographs taken specifically for the intended story. These will be stored in a network file so that students can access them at a later date.

Step Five: Planning – constructing a storyboard using presentation software Focusing Question/idea: “Choreographing” your images and narration – first steps. Resources: Networked computers with presentation software preferably in a lab setting; instructor should have a file of images to be used for demonstration purposes. Activity: If most students in third and fourth grade have had some experience with presentation software then an initial walk through with the teacher illustrating slide selection, inserting images and writing text to supplement those images (or vice-versa) would suffice. Students would then be supplied with a checklist that indicates expectations for success – number of content, title and bibliographic slides (see six facets for details) and basically cut loose. Students will also time their slide show so that the timing of the intended narration and the accompanying image are set. A time limit per slide could be set by the teacher so that each image and its accompanying narration lasts for about a certain number of seconds. Peer reviews: students will sign up for critique sessions of works in progress. When four students have signed up a group will meet with the teacher and the following protocol will be followed:
1. Group will view the slide show;
2. Group will first address what they like about the presentation;
3. artist/author will raise questions or concerns she/he has about the presentation;
4. audience will have opportunity to ask author/artist questions about the piece;
5. artist/author can ask for any input audience might have for improving the piece (optional in the early stages or if students have not experience in accepting or giving constructive criticism).

Step 6: Give your presentation a “cinematic” quality – the power that comes through the joining of your voice, other audio elements such as music and the timing and sequencing of these with your visual images. Focusing Question/idea: How will you convey your point and the emotions and feelings you want your audience to sense and feel?
Resources: Computers/tablets iMove, iTunes, iPhoto or similarly integrated and capable video, photo and music editing software; time to work with small groups of three or four students: music files or music cds; soundtracks from several movies students would recognize; books on tape or cd. Activities: Over two or three class periods listen to and discuss the emotional effect music has on the individual. This can be done in several ways but having students do several free-writes in their journals while listening to different compositions would be one way. Discussion would then center on the effect different selections had on their writing.

Next, listen to different passages of books on tape that have been selected for the narrator’s ability to bring the words alive. Revisit some of the digital stories you reviewed earlier and bring attention to the checklist that has been developed. Any discussion with students should then highlight the effect the narrator’s tone, pacing, phrasing, etc. had on them. Then tie it all together with one final discussion with students brainstorming ideas of how they might incorporate sound into their presentations. Out of these discussions the rubric/checklist generated earlier could be fine tuned with regard to narration and sound track.

Step Seven: At this point I would begin working with small groups of students to help them become accustomed to the video editing software. We would start by adding and timing the images they have included in their storyboard. This would be followed by a mini-lesson on recording voice and importing music. Students could then explore the use of different transitions, generating title slides, adding visual effects and so on. The peer review process for this would be the same as before: sign up and meet in groups of four with and adult facilitator to review and revise your work. The following are items that should be included in a checklist/rubric that would be used for both formative and summative assessments.

Seven Elements of Digital Storytelling
• Point of View – What is your point of view and why would it be important to convey to others? • Dramatic Question – Desire – Action – Realization –What is the underlying theme of your story?
• Emotional Content – What are the emotions associated with your narrative?
• The Gift of your Voice – How does the narrator’s voice sound? Does it effectively convey the emotions, feelings and is it interesting to listen too?
• The Power of the Soundtrack – Does the music set the mood for the story?
• Economy – Keep it short and succinct – Do the images and soundtrack effectively tell the story in the shortest amount of time?
• Pacing – The rhythm of the story helps set the tone – Have you set a rhythm to your story that helps the audience sense the emotions, feelings, ideas you are trying to convey? (adapted from WikiBooks – Instructional Technology/Digital Storytelling
Final Showings: Each digital story will be viewed by an audience of the author’s choosing. It could be a large audience, such as at an assembly, or it could be an audience as small as a few friends. However, guidelines will be set by the group with regard to standards that must be met for public showings at assemblies or on the school website.

Performance Tasks:
1. Choose a topic and state in an interview why it is of personal importance and how it can be made relevant to others.
2. Independently create a story board using presentation software that has 6-8 content slides that contain both images and narration, a title slide that includes the name of the story, a closing slide(s) that contain(s) some biographical information and finally a slide that will list any sources for images or music that are downloaded from sources that would be governed by copyright restrictions.
3. Create a slide show using video editing software that will translate the storyboard into an presentation that includes images, the spoken word and music that clearly makes the point established in PT 1.
4. Conduct an interview with the audience to evaluate the effectiveness of their story in conveying the intended message.

Resources and Attributions:

Center For Digital Storytelling. Center for Digital Storytelling. 6 May 2006: http://www.storycent er .org/

Scott County Schools. Digital Stories presented by Our Students at Scott County Schools. 6 May 2006: http://www.dtc.scott.k12.ky.us/technology/digitalstorytelling/studentstories.html

Me a Story Reflective Assessment Project. Tell Me a Story Reflective Assessment Project. 6 May 2006:http://atr.k12.hi.us/tutorials/tutorials/digstory/

Instructional Technology/Digital Storytelling. Aug. 2005. 6 May 2006: http://en.wikib ooks.org/wiki/Instructional_Technology/Digital_Storytelling
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
Artistic Dimensions a. Students use a variety of forms, such as dance, music, theater, and visual arts, to create projects that are appropriate in terms of the following dimensions: • Skill Development -- Projects exhibit elements and techniques of the art form, including expression, that are appropriate to the intent of the product or performance. • Reflection and Critique -- Students improve upon products and performances through self- reflection and outside critique, using detailed comments that employ the technical vocabulary of the art form. • Making Connections -- Students relate various types of arts knowledge and skills within and across the disciplines. • Approach to Work -- Students safely approach their media, solve technical problems as they arise, creatively generate ideas, and cooperate with ensemble members where applicable.
The unit will be geared towards students developing personal essays that will then be presented in a digital storytelling format. Students will be using PowerPoint as a planning tool for the slide show that will eventually be done in iMovie.
Students will be able to use these skills to create multi-media presentation on diverse topics.
Materials: Mobile Labs, Camera/Video Accessories
Other Items: 1 Mobile Lab (iPad mini 10 unit multi pack w/covers), $4500 each, total of $4500.00
1 Charging Cart, $600 each, total of $600.00
10 iMovie App for iPad, $4.99 each, total of $49.90