Digital story telling is a wonderful asset to a history class! Over the past few weeks, my students have shared what they have learned through a number of story telling methods. We’ve used Pages (which was turned into PDF stories when the macbooks wouldn’t read epubs), bookr, and Google presentations.
1st Attempt: Pages to Epub, Failed. Recovery: Pages to PDF
Story Mapping: Enlightened Revolutions
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Modern World History Students worked in groups of 2-3, and story mapped the Glorious, French, and American Revolutions. Their task was to describe the major players, the causes of the revolution, the major events and the results of the revolutions. Click here for full instructions.
From this assignment, I learned the macbooks will not read epubs in the same cool way iPads do. Also, that epubs are mainly for text conversions. When students tried to get their picture layouts to format into epubs, frustrations occurred. We instead turned to PDFs, and the presentations worked fine. We didn’t get to see the pages “flip”, but students viewed each others work via scribd on my class website.
If you would like to see all of them, go HERE.
2nd Attempt: Google Presentation Concept Review, Success but Incomplete
While preparing for their APUSH test, I asked my students to make and ABC book that would present main concepts for the Revolutionary Period of American History. Their Google Presentation turned out nice, but two students did not finish their letters so the story is incomplete.
3rd Attempt: Bookr, disappointing Recovery: Google Presentations
To engage my regular US History students on the causes of the American Civil War, I instructed them to create a story book that included 20 people, events, or ideas that led up to the war. After researching their information, they were to write 2 sentence summaries and find pictures on Flickr or Creative Commons. With this information collected, they were to insert the information into a simple site called bookr to create a story book. In theory, this was supposed to be an easy project to prepare my students to study the Civil War. There were some problems with bookr though….
- If you close the window before publishing, your work is lost. I warned my students of this fact, and instructed them to collect all their information before starting to plug any of it into bookr.
- The larger the Bookr book, the high degree of “lagging” on the website. Students began to get frustrated with the wait time to continue to create their book. Some were able to complete it with no problems, but I instructed others to turn to Google Presentations if their frustration level rose too high. I would rather view a presentation of a student who was thinking clearly, than a Bookr of a student who despised what they were doing.
I’m in the process of grading these projects, so I am still waiting to see how well my students did. Once I find the best presentations, I will post them on the student work page of my website.
I believe that creating stories or visuals that reflect student learning is a great asset to any classroom environment. I often find my students are too wordy when they have to write essays or blog posts, and the story mapping projects are causing them to have to choose their words carefully. Within the next week, I am starting a new story mapping activity with my Modern World History class. They will create story maps to reflect the information we are learning in this unit, and by the end of the unit they will have a story map study guide.