Who Are YOU? Revisted

Who doesn’t love a good story? My personal favorite is a story that I hear first hand from the person it happened to. For me, those stories always seem to be the best because the storyteller has that experience. They know what it looked like, what it felt like, what it smelled like, what it sounded like…

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I have NEVER used digital storytelling in my class, and I am having a hard time coming up with how it could be used in my classroom or even in my subject area. As stated in one of my previous blog posts,

I am THE worst storyteller ever!

I am working on that with including visuals into my presentations that allow me to “tell the story” of the scientific concept that we are discussing in class. Check out this TED Talk from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie about “The danger of a single story” and why storytelling can be SO important in our lives.

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I have come up with one idea so far. In the middle of January, my students finished their “Chemical Identity Mask Projects,” which were a part of my Course 1 Final Project. After much scaffolding on my part and much research on my students’ part, my students created a physical mask of their own face. They decorated their mask so that it was representative of themselves (answering the question, Who Are YOU?) AND an element from the periodic table. In addition to the mask, students were also asked to create an artist statement video that communicated their “chemical identity.”

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This year was the first time that I had my students create a video. In years past, students would always submit an essay that described how their mask depicted their personality and the unique characteristics of an element from the periodic table. Since this was the first time I incorporated a technological component, I left the video requirements quite open.

BUT, what if, next year, I require my students to create a digital story to accomplish the artist statement video portion of this project? This would allow my students to explore the use of digital storytelling and give them more concrete requirements as to what I expect for their video. (I would have loved to post some of my students’ videos. Since my students appear in these videos, and I did not feel comfortable asking parents for permission, I will not be able to post any of their videos.)

Again, I am not the most creative person, but I am working on it! I can see digital storytelling as an excellent tool for both learning and assessment. I am trying to bring back creativity to my science classroom, which all too often gets lost in everything else that needs to get done!

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How do YOU use digital storytelling in your classroom? How do you think I could use it in my classroom (please, help!)? I warmly welcome your comments below 🙂

3 thoughts on “Who Are YOU? Revisted

  1. What a cool assignment….and a great opportunity for students to combine creative thinking skills, art and science. I imagine you received some pretty unique masks! Would love to see some pictures! I am a huge fan of choice, and while some kids may love the digital story option, others may prefer to do creative writing. While others may prefer a podcast, or a photo collage with captions. I think that it is always important to ask yourself, what is my purpose in using technology? What is the best medium for students to demonstrate their understanding? And also, can all students access the technology that I’m asking them to use? This article, on choosing tech tools for your classroom reflects some of this line of thinking (link to fractuslearning.com). One of the recent challenges that I had in my film class where I asked them to make digital stories (aka short films) was that not all students had movie making software on their laptops. I had not even thought of this! Something to be mindful of for future projects….

  2. Pamela,
    I enjoyed reading your post, along with how you are beginning the process of incorporating technology into your classroom. It is great that you are already thinking ahead to next year and reflecting on how to improve what sounds like an already pretty amazing learning opportunity for your students. Adding the digital storytelling element should take this assignment to another level of student learning that will assist in preparing them for the always changing digital landscape of life. Your final statement, “…which all too often gets lost in everything else that needs to get done!” really struck me as this, along with the time constraints of having a family and personal life, is a big statement that is difficult to find a solution too. I have enough trouble finding time to use the restroom during the day with everything that needs to get done (apologies if that was a bit too personal, but I think it stresses the point). Also, without having the proper training and experience, incorporating technology, especially a concept like digital storytelling, into a subject that traditionally does not lend itself to this form of teaching and learning can be a daunting task. Having to teach yourself how to include this form of knowledge presentation into your units is an incredible time commitment that most people are unable to make. I think that it has to be a mind shift, though. In order to best educate our students, we need to be forward-thinking. We have to make the time. If we truly want to prepare our students for “what’s out there,” we have to be willing to make changes in the way we teach. What we do has remained stagnate for such a long time and we need to embrace new ways of teaching. I am motivating myself right now to try and figure out how digital storytelling can become a part of my next math unit. But, I am also looking at my watch wondering when I am going to have the time to do it.
    Great post, Pamela! Keep up the great work!

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