Digital Storytelling in the High School

Breaking the Ice

What is a Digital Story?

Digital Storytelling is the modern expression of the ancient art of storytelling. Digital stories derive their power by weaving images, music, narrative and voice together, thereby giving deep dimension and vivid color to characters, situations, experiences, and insights. Tell your story now digitally.
- Leslie Rule, Center for Digital Storytelling

The art of storytelling has taken on new dimensions with the advent of inexpensive and accessible editing software available through Microsoft and through the internet. As teachers of writing, it is a unique responsibility we impart to students to be purveyors of knowledge, of emotion, and of experience. As students participate in the digital storytelling experience, they take note not just of their writing, but how is dictated by the reader. This adds another level to the thought process as writer: "how will this read to someone else? what is emoted in my words?

So what is a digital story? It's all of the our storytelling talents: narrative, visual, and auditory, created either together or separately, mashed up and remixed into a brand new whole.

Here are a few of my favorites:

This one is only accessible through the New York Times Website, but it's great: Art Buchwald.
Let's experience some other digital stories created by students and adults. Follow this link to the Center for Digital Storytelling's example page where you can view some of the work done by participants there. Once you have done this, go to the discussion board for this page and contribute to the discussion questions that I have posted.

How Do We Make a Digital Story?

A digital story has several elements to it
  • The writing: the most important feature of an excellent digital story is the writing behind it. If a story lacks something compelling to say, it will have a difficult time delivering its message, regardless of the digital bells and whistles.
  • The narration: as noted above, when a story is read aloud, the writer/reader becomes aware of the voice in the story. Intonation and some planning go into making this element work for you.
  • The images or video: what images will work with your story? What video footage matches the mood and tone of your narrative?
  • Added audio: can music or ambient sound add meaning and value to what you have written.

Our job as creators of digital stories is to combine these elements into a meaningful whole through a series of small steps. First, it makes the most sense for us to use Windows MovieMaker to create out stories here in this district. It is a simple interface that we can access from just about any machine in the district and it easily handles still images, digital video, and narration. We will also discuss several other options for creating digital stories with web-based applications. Here are some how-to's to help us navigate the program.

Overall Introduction
Using Windows MovieMaker with Digital Photographers
Working with Timelines
Recording Narration

How Are Teachers Using These in Their Classrooms?

The Scott County Public Schools have really taken to digital storytelling. Here are some links to videos that are teacher created:
The Art Room
What Do You Want to Do?
Here are some student-created stories:
Ethnic Gardens

Examples and Resources

For more examples of digital stories, follow these links:
Storyboard Template-
Curriculum and Classroom resources-
Center for Digital Storytelling- one of the best centers for the promotion of digital storytelling. Great examples and resources here.

For more resources to help you incorporate digital stories into your curriculum these sites can help:
Digital Storytelling in the Scott County Schools- how one district integrated digital storytelling effectively.
Scoring Guide- a great place to start to help you create rubrics for grading digital stories
Rubistar- online rubric maker to help you customize your rubric. Look for pre-designed digital storytelling rubrics by doing a keyword search.
Wes Fryer's list of audio resources for podcasting and digital storytelling
Digital Storytelling Monthly Blog Carnival with tips, examples, and how-to info on video production in the classroom



Video Editing

Your Samples