Digital Storytelling and other Happy Things

Okay, I am officially in it. You know, that place where you feel like you are going to have the best year ever and that you are going to have a million awesome things planned before school even starts?

I expect this feeling will disappear, so I am going to take advantage of it while I can! Let me say thank you to all my friends out there who have given me some fabulous ideas. I have been loving the music suggestions! If you're interested, look at the comments on this post. I also got some great suggestions from my friend Caitlin that I'll share with you. She suggested using state-themed songs in Social Studies, such as "Walkin' in Memphis" and "Georgia on my Mind". Love.

Also, Caitlin remembered something her fifth grade teacher did. She would let a different student bring in a song each week. They had to give her a copy of the lyrics so that she could approve it first. I think this is such a great idea, because what are kids more interested in than music?

I'm thinking I might try to do something like this, but I will have to model what I want by picking my own songs first. I would like to pick songs that lend themselves to analyzing theme, tone, characterization, plot, figurative language, etc. I think doing this will really help the students with their writing. Here are some songs that I am thinking of using. Don't laugh.

The Circle Game - Joni Mitchell (really powerful images, and it deals with the theme of growing up which weighs heavily on the minds of fifth graders)

One Sweet World - Dave Matthews Band (deals with conserving resources and environmentalism)

Coat of Many Colors - Dolly Parton (an amazing song. they will laugh at this, but it tells such a great story about accepting people, appreciating your parents, etc.)

The Night they Drove Old Dixie Down - The Band (vivid images from the Civil War)

I hope this idea will actually materialize, because I think it will be a good way to reinforce some of those skills they will be tested on. Also, sharing music is a pretty personal thing, so hopefully this activity will help build our little learning community. I'm not sure if we'll be able to analyze the literary elements of say, a Miley Cyrus song, but we'll try!

Okay, to change gears a little, let's talk about digital storytelling. I went to a wonderful workshop hosted by my district the other day and I'm really excited to share what I learned.

First of all, let me give you a link to the county's wikispace which gives you a ton of links and information about how to use digital storytelling in the classroom. I found this other wikispace that also has good resources/examples.

The first thing you need to do is download Photo Story 3. This program is incredibly easy to use. You begin by importing pictures you would like to use. You can use pictures from the internet or import your own. You can then arrange what order you'd like them in, add text, voice narration, and music.

Here are my ideas about how I'd like to use digital storytelling in my classroom this year:
  • Biome study- during our ecosystems unit we study the different biomes and characteristics of each. I'm thinking that I can have students work in groups of 4 to research their biome and create a digital story about it.
  • Human body systems- I can assign a different body system to each group, have them research it, figure out how it works and why it's important, and they can present it to the class. I think this would be a great alternative to traditional assessment!
  • Sharing writing- We do a ton of writing in the fifth grade and I think that creating a digital story would be a great way for students to publish their finished pieces.
  • Book talks/Book reports- students can import a picture of a book they've read as well as import drawings to convince other people to read the book.

The presenter at the workshop was very helpful in suggesting ways that I can actually incorporate this technology in my "one computer classroom". Here's what she suggested:
  • Have students work in groups of 4
  • Give all group members jobs (Facilitator- the boss, Researcher- looks everything up, Photographer- makes sure the group has all the photos they need, Typist- well, they do all the typing)
  • Have them plan their project on a storyboard ahead of time
  • Give each group a set time limit on the computer
  • Have them put their content (words) in before adding pictures, voice narration, music, etc.
  • Give them a planning checklist they must complete before starting the project on the computer

Has anyone else tried digital storytelling? If you have, or if you just have other ideas about how it might be used, I'd love to hear!

Well, I'm going to keep taking advantage of my semi-manic state right now! My next goal is to get my wiimote interactive whiteboard set up. I got this idea from my friend Angela, who set it up in her own classroom. Angela is an art teacher with two phenomenal websites- one for her art classroom, and one with resources for art education. I never quite got the wiimote whiteboard project figured out last year, so now it has become my summer project. Or should I say that it has become my husband's summer project?

If you're interested in doing this, click here for a website that gives step-by-step instructions for how to create your own interactive whiteboard using a wiimote, an LED pen, and a USB to bluetooth adapter. I think this is a great opportunity to have an interactive whiteboard for a fraction of the cost!

1 comment

  1. I forgot to include links to the digital camera grants that my teacher friend Grace told me about. Thanks Grace!