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Using Digital Storytelling to Write Feature Stories

Using Digital Storytelling to Write Feature Stories

Written by Tina Browne
November 11, 2010

For this Journalism assignment, students were asked to write a 400-500 word feature story, add images, and create a digital story. Once they finished their research and interviews, students wrote their feature and added their own photos and images from the web. Using their written work as the script for their voiceover, they also added background music to enhance their story. Peer response (through email), revision, and reflection were the follow-up activities.


Image originally uploaded on 2010-10-16 06:27

Students created a simple storyboard in a Word document with two columns. This gave them a “script” for their voiceovers.
Open Storyboard template create.doc

Teacher and Student Reflection on Project

I learned a lot from doing this project, and it helped me trouble-shoot problem areas for future Digital Storytelling projects. The students and I waded through the technology glitches with good humor, and because I’ve taught feature writing for years, it was grounded in solid writing practice. It was enjoyable to confine this writing assignment to 400-500 words as it made the students exercise brevity and constraint, and it also eliminated their obsession with page length.

Student feedback was mostly positive and incredibly constructive. Comments such as “It was definitely an enjoyable change from the everyday monotony of writing assignments…” and “More than anything I enjoyed the process and the chance to incorporate some more technology into a school project” were among other similar feedback sheets. Students also felt the project really built community much more than writing in isolation. They liked the feedback through email and felt it was an easier way to respond to others rather than sitting in a small group and writing on each other’s papers. They found the project refreshing because it “was fun and more engaging and different than conventional [writing] projects.”

I will continue to do this project with my journalism students. However, I am going to get better quality microphones for the next round and I am going to ask them to leave music out of the story… for now! The biggest glitch was finding space and equipment so that everyone could produce a clear recording. Learning Photostory3 was easy and they enjoyed exploring this very user-friendly program. All students were equally engaged, and best of all, struggling writers really produced some great work accompanied by cool images. They were proud of their success. Very cool!

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