Archive | March, 2013

Creating your first Digital Story … don’t worry it’s not as scary as it sounds!

7 Mar

So you are an educator who wants to break away from the norm and get your students more involved in what you are trying to teach them. You know that you can use an iPad to show your students an animated book but you are a 6th grade Physical Education/Math teacher and your students would look at you like you are crazy if you show them a Dr. Seuss book that that has fluffy pink oddly named characters to them to try and trying to teach them how important it is for them to stay active and healthy.

You want to be the cool hip teacher who gets your students involved in their lesson and get them excited about coming to class. I don’t know about you but every time I get students to learn without knowing they are learning is when I, the educator, start to have fun and if YOU are having fun then your students are having fun too.

A Digital Story is a short from of digital film-making using digital multimedia; images, audio and video, that allows everyday people to share aspects of their life story. The process can capitalize on the creative talents of students as they begin to research and tell stories of their own as they learn to use the library and the Internet to research rich, deep content while analyzing and synthesizing a wide range of content. Critiquing their own and other students’ work, which can promote gains in emotional intelligence and social learning. Students are able to work in groups.

Three different types of Digital Stories;

1) Personal Narratives – A personal narrative is a story is one that can be used to facilitate discussions about current issues such as race, multiculturalism and the globalization that is taking place in today’s world. A personal narrative like this one can, Almost Paradise , also be a positive means for dealing with the some of the emotional family issues that were described in the story.

2) Historical Documentaries – Even though a personal narrative still contains information these are designed to be created from historical material that students might explore in a classroom.

3)Stories that Inform or Instruct – Stories that reflect instructional material in content areas such as math, science, health education and instructional technology.

Teacher-created digital stories can also be used to enhance whatever lesson you are introducing and can be used as a supplement to a larger unit, as a way to facilitate discussion about the topics presented a story and as a way of making abstract or conceptual content more understandable.

Hibbing and Rankin-Erikson (2003) and Boster, Meyer, Toberto, & Inge (2002) have shown that the use of multimedia in teaching helps students retain new information as well as aids in the comprehension of difficult material.

Studies have shown that incorporating Digital Stories into your curriculum help students with their skills in

Writing where they are asked to Formulate a point of view and developing a script;

Organization: Managing the scope of the project, the materials used and the time it takes to complete the task;

Technology: learning to use a variety of tools, such as digital cameras, scanners, microphones and multimedia authoring software;

Presentation: Deciding how to best present the story to an audience; Interview Skills: Finding sources to interview and determining questions to ask;

Interpersonal: Working within a group and determining individual roles for group members;

Problem-Solving Skills: Learning to make decisions and overcome obstacles at all stages of the project, from inception to completion;

Assessment Skills: Gaining expertise critiquing their own and others’ work.

Before you start with wanting to make your first Digital Story you need to have a little bit of background knowledge on how to film your film because after all you are a teacher not Spilberg. If you are unfamiliar with camera angles, creating a story board, law of 3 then click here!

Now that you kind of know what you are doing and what to do in post production then you get to the brainstorming part. This is the fun part becuase now you have to figure out what your story is going to be about and what it is going to address. There are 7 elements to consider when it comes to creating a digital story

1. Point of View – what is the perspective of the author?

2. A Dramatic Question – a question that will be answered by the end of the story.

3. Emotional Content – serious issues that speak to us in a personal and powerful way.

4. The Gift of your Voice – a way to personalize the story to help the audience understand the context.

5. The Power of the Soundtrack – music or other sounds that support the storyline

6. Economy – simply put, using just enough content to tell the story without overloading the viewer with too much information.

You can view these elements as more of a guideline that you will want to use when you are brainstorming on what type of story you want to create. These are important to take into consideration when designing the architute of your movie for the reason that… you are going to be using this in your classroom… for your students so you want to make sure that it is educational and it is something that a student can learn something from, remember this is school, but don’t worry if you are able to master the basic skills to making a movie and the 7 elements questions then after this then you can start that Batman YouTube movie you always wanted to make but never knew how to. Well now you know! Now enter it in a film festival and win some money for your classroom

Here is my the Activity Plan that I did for my first story if you want to have somewhat of a guide. ENJOY. Here are also the apps that we used to make our video!

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Now class, if you will take out your cell phones for this next assignment ….. *updated*

2 Mar

Before we do anything. Lets take a minute to listen to what John McWhorter has to say about texting …

Now after watching this lets get into using a cell phone in the classroom and how you can use it now knowing what texting is not as something that the kids do and use cute unrecognizable terminology but as a new form of communicate/language.

Two things you never want you students doing while they are in your class

  1. On their cell phones 
  2. Using social media while you are teaching a subject 

Doing one or the other in class would be a sure way to get your cell phone taken up but with social media all around us and almost everyone having a facebook or twitter page, or at least knowing what one is, incorporating social media into the classroom seems like a no-brainier. Fortunately for students using modern day technology is beginning to  emerge from taboo to it becoming a required, needed resource implicated in classrooms. Teachers from all over the world are finding new an innovative ways to use new technology in their classroom. There are two websites that I will use in my classrooms



Using either of these applications may be something that sounds foreign to you but if you think like an educator then you can find many uses for both social media pages.

Facebook is great for students because rather than spending money on a webpage domain name you can just create a Facebook page for your students where you can post daily assignments for students who have missed class, lost their homework or had it eaten by the dog. You can create discussion that students need to respond to. Eventually students will begin to organically start their own discussion on the Facebook page and asking questions about assignments, setting up study groups, what they need for a group presentation. This is something that every educator wishes would happen between their students but always fall short on implicating it. The picture below shows some stats about facebook and why it seems like a no brainier to start using Facebook in your classroom. My idea is if students are already using something then find a way to make it work in your educational curriculum

Twitter  is another one of those apps that seems that everyone is using now a days. You see #hashtags every time you turn on the time, you see a little blue bird every time you walk into a store. Twitter is the number one app that is the closes a company can get to interacting with their customers. If businesses are using this and have recognized this then why hasn’t the education field? There are a few ways that teachers can use twitter in their classroom to help their students; creating IBP projects where you can have your students follow business leaders, scientist, businesses, anything and they can ask those people who are leaders in the field is they can answer a question that they have. This shows the student who thinks having an education is “stupid” that they can follow their favorite celebraty and ask them questions related to education and how they got to where they are now if it was not for school. The best practice you can do, in my opinion is having a #hashtag that is specific to your classroom, let’s say #MrGs930EnglishClass you can have certain hashtags for every period that you teach, oh and they are FREE! you can encourage your students to have their cell phones out and on your overhead have twitter open and you can have students ask questions if they are confused with something. This encourages decision and gives a voice to students that would typically not ask a question because they are afraid of speaking in a class, because they sound “stupid”*. The joy of learning something new is being able to show it to not just your peers but also to people all over the world. With having a designated Hashtag for your students they can tell their parents, grandparents, friends, whoever that they can go and look up #MrGs930EnglishClass and see what they are working on, this is a good way to get your parents excited about the fact that their child would be using Twitter in the classroom. Below is a visual graph that shows some stats about Twitter

*students words not mine.

I have also created a google document that has useful links that I think are very beneficial if you plan on using either Facebook or Twitter in your classroom.