You are on page 1of 3

5/1/2017 HowtoUseDigitalStorytellinginYourClassroom|Edutopia

How to Use Digital Storytelling in Your


Classroom
Empowerstudentcreativitywithaffordableandaccessibletechnology.

ByJenniferNew
DE CE MB E R 2 , 2 0 0 5

Thishowtoarticleaccompaniesthefeature"FilmSchool:MakingMoviesFrom
StoryboardtoScreen(http://www.edutopia.org/filmschool)."

Storytellingisavitalskillwithseeminglyunlimitedapplications.Donewell,itcanhaveamagicaleffect
moving,enlightening,orentertainingaudiencesofanysize.Wetellstoriestowoolovers,calmchildren,or
reassureourselves.Lawyersrelyonthepowerofstorytellingtovividlyrecreatecrimestojuries,archaeologists
conjureformercivilizations,andteachersmakeabstractconceptsrealtotheirstudents.

Intoday'sdigitizedworld,visualstorytellingisafavoriteclassroomtool,andtheaffordabilityandaccessibilityof
technologysuchasiMovie(http://www.apple.com/apps/imovie/)providesopportunitiesnotimaginedtwentyyears
ago.JoeFathereeandCraigLindvahl,twoteacherswhohavemadesevenfilmsbetweenthemandwhoteach
filmmakingworkshopstoeducators,saythatevenwhenteachersarecomfortablewiththetechnology,theydon't
oftenfeelconfidentaboutteachingtheartofstorytelling.Buttheyprobablyknowmorethantheythink,say
FathereeandLindvahl,whoofferthefollowingadvicetohelpteachers:

1.Learnfromwhatyouwatch.
Thinkofmoviesyouadore,moviesyoucouldwatchagainandagain.Whatmakesthemsoeffective?Isitthe
dialogue,thecharacterdevelopment,thewayshotsareframed?Likewise,considermoviessobadtheymake
yousquirm.Justwhyaretheysoexcruciating?Workwithyourstudentstodissectseveralwellknownfilms
you'llsoonfindyourselveswithseveralcategoriesthatfallundertherubricofstorytellingtechniques.Youwillbe
amazedathowmuchyoualreadyknow.

2.Seetechnologyasastorytellingtool,notasateachinggoal.
Thoughstudentsneedsomeknowledgeofhowtouseequipment,teachingabouttechnologyshouldneverbethe
focusofthecurriculum.SimpleeditingprogramssuchasiMovieareintuitiveandeasytolearn.Ifyouhavea
cameraorphoneandacomputer,you'rereadytogoyourcreativeaspirationswilldriveyourtechnologylearning
curve.Onceyouthinkofanelementyouwanttoincludethatrequiresmoreadvancedsoftwareorgear,you'llbe
compelledtolearnhowtouseit.

3.Allowyourstudentstopushyou(andleadyou).

https://www.edutopia.org/digitalstorytellingclassroom 1/3
5/1/2017 HowtoUseDigitalStorytellinginYourClassroom|Edutopia

Don'tbeintimidatedifyourstudentslearnfasterthanyoudo.Manyofthemareaccustomedtoquicklyabsorbing
technology.Usetheiraptitudetoyouradvantagebylettingstudentsteacheachotheryou'llfindthattheyshow
theirstrengthsfairlyquickly.Withinaclass,you'llhavegreatwriters,editors,cameraoperators,andtechnicians.
Theycanimprovetheirweakerpointswhileusingtheirstrengthstohelpothers(includingyou).

4.Learnbytrialanderror.
Acceptthefactthatyouwillspendaportionofyourtimescratchingyourhead,wondering,"Whywon'tthat
work?"Seekoutresourceswhereyoucanpostquestionsandgetanswersquickly.(CreativeCow
(http://www.creativecow.net/)isanexcellentonlinedestinationithassectionsforvirtuallyeverykindof
productionandpostproductionsoftwareandhardware.)Everyglitchwillbuildyourtechnologysavvyuntilyouget
tothepointwhereyoucananticipatethekindsofproblemsstudentswillhave.Takeheartinrememberingthat
mostgreatfilmmakerscomefromacreativebackground,notatechnicalonetheydependonotherstomake
technologyworkontheirbehalf.

5.Giveyourstudentsfreedom,butholdthemaccountable.
Kidsarenotusedtothekindoffreedomthey'llneedtodogreatcreativework.Somewillthriveinthat
environment,otherswillrequireclosesupervisiontomakesuretheycompletetheirprojects.Onegoodwaytodo
thisistohavestudentspitchaoneparagraphdescriptionoftheirprojectandprovideaproductionschedule.In
essence,it'saworkcontract.

6.Consideryourselftheexecutiveproducer.
Workwithyourstudentsasapartnerlearningabouttechnologyandstorytelling,butdon'tforgetthatyoucallthe
shots.Youhavetobethearbiterofgoodtasteandthestudiobosswhodecideswhetheranideaisproduction
worthy.Servinginthisroleasateacherisactuallymucheasierthanitisforarealliveexecutiveproducer,
becausestudentsnaturallylooktoyouforleadership.

7.Don'tforgettocelebrateyourstudents'work.
Whetheryoushowcompletedprojectstotheclassaloneortotheentireschooloreventhewholecommunity,
presentthestoriesyourstudentstell.There'sagoodchancetheirworkwillbemuchmoreprofessionalthanyou
expect,andlightyearsbeyondwhatyourcommunitymightanticipate.Agreatsidebenefitofpublicshowingsis
thatyourstudentswilltaketheirworkveryseriously.Theknowledgethatothersaregoingtoseeit(andyoucan't
hideCqualityworkonabigscreen)hasbeenthesourceoftremendousinspirationforfilmmakersforahundred
years.

JENNIF ERNEWISAWRIT ERANDEDUCATO RINIO WACIT Y,IO WA.HERL AT EST BO O KIS DRAWING F RO M
L IF E: T HEJO URNALASART .

Source:www.edutopia.org/digitalstorytellingclassroom

ReprintPolicy:www.edutopia.org/termsofuse

https://www.edutopia.org/digitalstorytellingclassroom 2/3
5/1/2017 HowtoUseDigitalStorytellinginYourClassroom|Edutopia

PrivacyPolicy:www.edutopia.org/privacypolicy

https://www.edutopia.org/digitalstorytellingclassroom 3/3