A Smattering of Digital Storytelling
In addition to the news broadcasts, we were also putting together some digital stories whenever the curriculum warranted it. We started off the year with a simple Photo Story project to introduce them to digital projects and progressed from there. That first project those first weeks of class was our I AM poems. The purpose of this project was twofold. First it was a way for the students to introduce themselves to each other, and second it was to force the students to begin finding their voice in their writing and the classroom. As it was our first dive into technology in the classroom, we started off structured with the students simply telling in ten lines who they are and setting it to pictures of themselves. The push was to describe themselves with unique and strong words and phrases. I wanted to get their attitudes out in the open and show them it was safe to express their individuality in our classroom. It took encouragement and strong arming, but the end pieces definitely showed the true characters of my crew. During the showing of the final pieces to each other, the safety factor of the classroom was cemented and they had their first final product to feel real pride.
Another one of our digital stories had a different purpose in my mind. I simply gave it to them for the deeper understanding they would gain. We were in the process of studying the five regions of Georgia, and the students had been asking me for another digital project. So, I came up with the Georgia Habitats movies. For this project, the students worked in small groups and were assigned one of the five habitats. Together they were to decide a way to deliver to the rest of the class important information about their habitat such as climate, animals and plants that live there, and special features. I also wanted them to tell these facts from the point of view of an animal of their choosing in their habitat. Following those directions, they had creative freedom on the type of text. This project came farther into the school year, but I couldn’t help but be amazed again at the power of digital projects in my classroom. The creative stories the students came up with amazed me and the level of thinking taking place made it more than worth the time I took for the project. Through their snakes slithering through the Piedmont region, Bobcats and Bears interviewing each other, crabs meeting each other on the coast, alligators in the swamp, and a bobcat getting hot in the Coastal Plains they came to own each of the regions. From that point on in my classroom whenever one of the regions were discussed, they were discussed with the tag of the video made on it. I would mention maybe the Mountain region and suddenly a student would pipe up with “oh, you mean Mrs. Bobcat and Mr. Bear’s place.” They had an association, a visual, and a direct memory of each of the regions now that could never had been made by just filling out a worksheet or even watching a movie made by someone outside of our walls.