Digital Storytelling Planning

A big thanks to Cody for letting me share his work on my blog. He did a great job!

Reflecting on the digital storytelling experiences I have recently had in several classrooms, here are a few of the things I’ve learned:

  • For the first project keep it simple. Possible strategies include:
    • Select short, basic content, ie a poem/paragraph that the student has written.
    • Use Photostory.
    • Use only copyright-free, free images found online, not any student originals.
    • Don’t require narration.
    • Have students use the music provided in PhotoStory, or don’t require music.
    • If using Windows Movie Maker, use the AutoMovie feature to automate the process.
  • Experienced digital storytellers strategies:
    • The student’s content/story can be a longer, more than just a poem, etc.
    • The students can bring in their own images.
    • Use Windows Movie Maker and include video.
    • Include narration.
    • Include copyright-free, free, music downloaded from the Internet.
    • Edit the transitions.
    • Edit the Photostory animation.
    • Create original music using the free site Aviary: Myna.
  • Each day tell the students what they are expected to accomplish, referring to a project checklist or a scoring guide.
  • During the lesson, display a list of tasks that they are to be completing.
  • Using a project checklist or a scoring guide, assess students’ progress every day or two. This could be done during class by checking with students as they work, or by accessing the students’ project folders on the server after class. Students could also reflect on their progress at the end of hour, making notes on the project checklist.
  • Students have limited storage space on the server. If they receive messages indicating they are out of space, they may need to delete old files, or move the project folder to a flash drive. (Be sure to copy the project folder, not just the files in it.) It is a good idea to have a couple flash drives available.
  • Insist that student stick to using only copyright-free media.
  • Bookmark Fusion: Finding Copyright Free Media on all the stations for student use.
  • Insist the students create a project folder and store all source files and the project file there.
  • If Windows Movie Maker can’t find the source files for the product, right click on a missing file (big red X), and choose Browse for Missing File. Then navigate to the . This typically occurs when sources files aren’t stored in a project folder, or source files are moved after being imported into the project.
  • When using Windows Movie Maker, if students do not want to use the audio included with the video and want to record new narration and also include music, they will need to use Audacity. Movie Maker provides only one audio track. So the narration and music will have to combined into one track in Audacity.
  • Xtenda machines won’t work with such a project. Windows Movie Maker runs on only one station at a time, and there are not ample USB ports available to plug in head sets.
  • Don’t allow students to check out headsets until after the projects due date. Otherwise you have fewer headsets available during class time.

Sample Lesson Outline

Day 1 Project Folder, Images, and Source Document

  1. Share an example photostory project.
  2. Demonstrate how to create a project folder.
  3. Demonstrate how to locate and download copyleft/creative commons licenses images.
  4. Discuss aligning images to narration and how many images are needed (illustrate big concepts).
  5. Demonstrate how to collect source documentation while downloading media.
  6. Students create a project folder, find images, and document sources in a Word document, saving everything to their project folder.

Day 2 Images and Source Document

  1. Student continue to find images and document sources.

Day 3 Title Image, Images and Source Document (depending on the length of the written material, more days may be needed to collect images).

  1. Demonstrate how to create a title slide in PowerPoint. Save as jpeg instead of a PowerPoint file.
  2. Students create title slide in PowerPoint and save and jpg file in project folder.
  3. Students finish finding images and documenting sources.

Day 4 Sequence and Edit Images

  1. Demonstrate how to import and sequence images into Photostory and some image basic editing features (crop, effects, color adjustments).
  2. Students import images, sequence, edit, and add text.

Day 5 Sequence and Edit Images, Rehearse

  1. Students finish image editing.
  2. Students match narration to individual slides, rehearsing reading.

Day 6 Narration

  1. Demonstrate the headset controller for volume and mute. Also show how mic flips down on left to be placed between mouth and nose.
  2. Demonstrate how to record narration with headsets.
  3. Students will record narration.

Day 7 Music (Depending on the length of the written material, more days may be needed to record narration.)

Supplies: headsets

  1. Play 3 videos, each with different music to demonstrate how music overrides images.
  2. Demonstrate how to use provided music or import a music file, and set volume for music.
  3. Students finish narration and add music.
  4. Students create Source slide in Powerpoint, copying text from the Source document, and saving it as jpeg file in project folder. Import the Source image into the project.

Day 8 Finish and Produce

  1. Demonstrate how to finish/produce the project.
  2. Students will finish and produce project.

Day 9 Share Stories

  • This can be done in the classroom with a projector. You will need Windows Media Player 10 installed on the station.
  • If you want to allow students to comment digitally on each others’ projects, embed the videos in a blog.
  • Embed only 1 video per post.
  • Take the class to a lab if you don’t have adequate station access in your classroom. Watch the videos as a class. You can view the videos from the student folders on the server, even though they are available online, to avoid using bandwidth and ensuring that the video plays quickly and smoothly. You should not have students watching videos individually in most cases, because this will use significant bandwidth. Also, all students would then need earbuds/headsets to hear the audio.
  • After each video, have students leave a comment on the blog post. A lesson on commenting will result in better feedback.
  • It will be a simpler process if students are not required to have accounts in order to leave comments, but yet comments should be moderated before they appear on the blog.
  • I would recommend creating a free account at Vimeo to upload the videos. Register for a blog to post the videos and allow moderated comments.

See the Fusion: Digital Storytelling webpage for more resources.

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