Creating Digital Stories

Everywhere we look, we see screens

OH Yes!

A new distribution-and-display technology is nudging the book aside and catapulting images, and especially moving images, to the center of the culture.

These quotations come from an article by Kevin Kelly, “Becoming Screen Literate“ , from the New York Times Magazine, published in 2008, but still so accurate!
It made a big impression on me. I started to look around (screens everywhere), to observe people in the streets (glued to their cell phones), my family and friends (always an eye on a screen) and soon came to the conclusion that it is time that schools move from teaching texts to teaching images.

“50+ Web 2.0 Ways To Tell a Story”, by Alan Levine, is an incredibly rich web site about how to use technology to create digital stories with students. I spent some time watching several versions of his “50+ Ways to Tell the Dominoe Story”. What I discovered is that each tool seems to emphasize one aspect of digital story telling, for example, location (Google Maps), quality of pictures (Picasa), audience (VoiceThread) etc..

Alan Levine also insists that:

More important, this should show that the choice of a tool is not as important as having a well developed story.

This is an important comment, because I noticed that a lot of students tend to built their power point presentations and movies around their pictures rather than concentrating on the ideas or facts they would like to share with their audience. I will keep it in mind next time I help students working on their project in the library!

Alan Levine’s Wiki is a mine of information, but I would like to add two tools to his list.

Smile Box
The Easy Way…
Each year, I create with Smile Box a (little) slide show about me and my family’s year and send it to my friends and relatives. I go through my pictures and memories, choose a template from the site, upload pictures, add texts and music and… voila!
It is extremely easy and fun to use. You can email your creation, post it on Facebook, blog or web, burn it to a DVD or print it.
What I like, apart for the fact that it makes me look tech savy without working much, is that is it lets me embed texts into my pictures and add music from my own library very easily.
If the goal of a class is to tell a story rather than learning technology, this can be an option for digital story telling.
Google Lit Trips
The Book Lover Site…
Google Lit Trips has been created by a former English teacher, Jerome Burg, to offer

“engaging and relevant literary experiences for students.”Google Lit Trips are free downloadable files that mark the journeys of characters from famous literature on the surface of Google Earth. At each location along the journey there are placemarks with pop-up windows containing a variety of resources including relevant media, thought provoking discussion starters, and links to supplementary information about “real world” references made in that particular portion of the story.

What I like about google lit trips is that, following characters and events, I feel like revisiting classics. Each pop up windows enhances my reader experience through historical and geographical background.
Visiting a Google Lit Trip while studying a novel helps students visualize the story better, of course, but it also encourage creativity, giving them ideas about how to insert places and space into their writing and embed primary sources into their works.
Some Google Lit Trips are created by students, some by a group of teachers. Others are related to non fiction books and one of them is a geography project. I can imagine Google Lit Trips becoming a valuable tool for geography teachers (what about a trip based on Jules Verne’s “Around the Earth in Eighty Days”?)

Jerome Burg also publishes a page called Lit Trips Tips about how to use the site in the classroom, from adding place makers icons (I added one in “Candide Lit Trip” because I missed more information about Surinam) to creating your own Lit Trip (not that easy), finding copyright friendly images or inspiring students to write their own story using locations on Google Earth.

There is only one thing I missed in my journey: music.

Accessing Google Lit Trips
YouTube Preview Image

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3 Responses to Creating Digital Stories

  1. Avatar of mromaine mromaine says:

    Thank you for sharing ‘Google Lit Trips.’ As it’s connected to Google Earth, it sounds like a useful resource for students who can absorb more from information given visually. What a great site!

  2. Avatar of smacintosh smacintosh says:

    Hi Anne Marie,

    I seem to come across this software a lot these days! I recently purchased a pack of lesson plans about The Hunger Games, and it includes a geographical spread of the United States and marks where different battles take place. It would be a great activity to have students use this application to make it interactive!

  3. Kim Cofino says:

    Please add your two suggestions to Alan’s wiki! I know he would love it! If you’re not a member, just request to join. I hope exploring his wiki has reinforced the importance of having a storyboard before creating any kind of media. Students should never start creating online before they’ve planned offline – similar to Garr’s recommendations for creating a presentation.

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