Saturday, 19 January 2013

Digital Storytelling in the Classroom

     On Wednesday I had an opportunity to attend a presentation by Darren Kuropatwa and Andy McKiel on Digital Storytelling. Both of these guys are doing some amazing things in regards to ed tech and I was happy to finally meet both of them after following their work online.

     The entire session focused on digital storytelling as a way for our students to document and reflect on their learning. Not only were we introduced to some great ideas but we also were able to try them out for ourselves. This was the very first PD session I have been to that had us out of the room and actually using the tools we were discussing; I was very impressed! In this post I'd like to summarize some of the tools I learned about as well as some of the project ideas we discussed. If you would like to see the actual presentation, however, it is available on Darren's slideshare!

italk, recording apps
This app allows you to easily record and export audio clips via email. It is very user-friendly, has an aesthetic interface, and provides good quality recordings. By selecting the "good" quality recording method, users can record 90 second sound clips that can be quickly emailed away. (Clips longer than 90 seconds cannot be exported via email).
If you had access to iPads or iPhones in the classroom, you could have students record their discussions during group work and quickly email away for you to use as formative assessment! Think of how long it might take to assess 20 journal reflections versus how long it might take to listen to 20 ninety second clips (only about 18 minutes!).

While 90 seconds may seem like a short amount of time, it really gets students to evaluate what the most important information is and summarize their learning. We also discussed how a recording can motivate student's to provide their best work. While writing can seem anonymous  without ownership, it is harder to hide behind a recording of your own voice.
I really liked this app and find it really easy to use! I actually used it with my students this weekend to create our own "digital story", see below.

What Do You See In Your World Today?
One of the project ideas we discussed had to do with, "What do you see in your world today?" Using any number of topic ideas, students can create video projects relating their learning to the world around them. For example, we talking about finding beauty in the world around us and were given 5 minutes to shoot a 5 second clip of something beautiful in our world (which at that time was in the Faculty of Ed building). Here was our resulting project:
This could be done with our students to start off a new unit and activate prior knowledge. For example, what role does agriculture play in our daily lives? Students could film clips of food, clothing, various technologies, employment options, etc. 

It could also be done to apply classroom learning to the real world. For example, find an element on the periodic table. Darren shared the story of a teacher who assigned their students different elements and they filmed an object that used that element in real life (at home, in the community, etc). In the end, they had a video showing real-world examples of various elements; way cooler than studying the chart on the wall! 
Here are some other videos we watched as examples/inspiration:

Watch this one to the end, I think the end is the most powerful!

Who Are You? / What Did You Learn Today?
We discussed this project idea in the context of having only 4 slides and recording your story over top. In the most simple sense, this project could be done at the start of the year as an introduction activity to become more familiar with everyone. For example, we created our own stories about how we became educators:
You could have your students create this type of project for ANY topic in your class. For example, in what way does an Indigenous group's worldview affect their relationship with the environment? (A question we explored when I taught Global Issues). Students could chose 4 pictures that illustrate their learning about that topic and record their answers over top! Think of how neat it would be to do this for every unit and then have one 30 minute video at the end of the semester summarizing that student's learning!
Pictures could be physical work samples from class (which could also allow the video to serve as a portfolio) or they could be personal photos or online images. If taken from online, it could also be an opportunity to practice using creative commons to find appropriate work online!

This type of project could also be done on a daily or weekly basis as a class as a way of documenting classroom learning. If your class has a website or blog, your students could create a short audio clip each day, or at the end of the week, summarizing what they learned during that time period. (This could either be done in a large group setting, or by appointing a "scribe" each time on an alternating basis). What results, at the end of semester, is a detailed account of student learning, created by students! It could serve as a digital "textbook" archive of information that students could reference before assessment activities. This type of activity also allows each student to be an active participant in the classroom learning process and become an "expert" on a certain topic.


     If you ever get a chance to take a PD session with either of these gentlemen I highly recommend it! In fact, Darren will be presenting at this year's BYTE conference, where Tyler and I are also presenting. I was so excited about what I learned during this presentation that I immediately wanted to try it out!

    This weekend, my fiance and I were asked to chaperon a fundraising event held by our student's from our last student teaching placement. In order to raise money for their local food bank they decided to participate in a 30 hour famine event that they titled, Starving for Change. Each student found sponsors and starting Friday morning at 12am they began fasting! We all camped out in the school gym Friday night and ended the event with a big buffet breakfast this morning. It was a lot of fun and I couldn't be more proud of the students for organizing and taking part in such a great cause. All together they were able to raise $1000 for their local food bank!

     Using the tips I learned from this PD session I worked with the students last night to create this digital story to document their event:

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