Content Areas Digital Literacy

Telling Our Stories

digital storytelling
Written by Lori Gracey

Powerful and moving stories are critical to our human existence. And with the tools available for digital storytelling today, it’s easier than ever.

Storytelling is such a critical component of being human, even in today’s modern world. It’s one of the ways we connect with other people, allowing us to share our hopes and dreams, our fears and worries, and our experiences and plans. It brings us together and emphasizes what we have in common and so can help us bridge any divide. But good storytelling is not an inherited trait; it must be taught and practiced.

Teaching Digital Storytelling

As the teacher, working with your students on digital storytelling doesn’t always have to be a lengthy, involved process. Sometimes, a good story is short and somewhat spur of the moment. Students can create a very brief story about something funny that happened to them yesterday, a favorite memory around a holiday, or a wish that they have. Their story can be jotted down, lightly edited by their peers, and then created quickly using just audio or a few pictures. It can be simple, an easy way to connect with others.

Once created, it is imperative that the story is shared with someone other than just the teacher. So before assigning the work, think about how you will publish their creations. Will it be to their individual blogs or a class website? How about to the campus homepage or via social media like a class Twitter account? Can they be included in the next parent communication? Any of these solutions, and others you may think of, are great, as long as a large audience can access them.

Digital Storytelling Tools for Any Device

Regardless of the length of the story, the technology we have available in our schools today makes telling it even more powerful and far reaching. Here are some good resources for your students to use to share their stories, regardless of their device.

  • Storybird Studio – Wonderful storytelling resource that is free for educators. K-5 students can create picture books while secondary students write long-form chapter books and poetry. Free artwork is included, which can help start the creative juices flowing. And students can publish their stories on their website, along with reading stories written by others. A Chrome extension is also available.
  • Google Story Builder – No Google account or registration is required to use this tool. Students enter up to 10 characters’ names and then type in their story. They can add music from the site along with a title. Once that’s done, they are given a short URL to their published story. As the teacher, if you log in with your Google account, you can create a story starter and then share the URL with your students for them to complete. For your most advanced authors, try the Master Edition. A famous writer will start the story off for your students to complete. He/She may even drop in and add a line or two throughout the writing.
  • Online Voice Recorder – Record up to seven minutes of audio with this very simple to use website.
  • StoryTop Story Maker – Using the drag-and-drop interface, students can create simple cartoon stories using the provided graphics and their text and ideas. No account is required to create and share the stories. A Chrome extension is available, as well as a Chrome app.
  • Biteable – The World’s Simplest Video Maker – And they mean it. Create a free account, select a template, add your own content (including text, photos, colors, and sound), and then share it via YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter. A Biteable logo/watermark is added to your finished product in the free version.
  • Adobe Spark – For very short stories with powerful impact, consider using Adobe Spark on either the web or via the iOS app.
  • My Storybook – Primarily for younger authors, this tool does require that the user have an email address and a free registration to the site.
  • Smore – While normally thought of as an electronic newsletter creator, Smore can be fabulous for creating short stories as well. Students can use the free version with the creation of an account. Or the teacher can purchase a license for just $59/year.

No matter what platform you choose, it is important that we teach our children how to share the amazing and inspiring stories of what they are creating and learning each day. How will you help them?

 

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About the author

Lori Gracey

Lori Gracey has 28 years of experience in education, with 22 years as a curriculum and technology director. She currently serves as the executive director of the Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) and is responsible for training technology directors, administrators, curriculum supervisors, and teachers across the country. During her nine years in this position, she has led TCEA in membership and revenue growth, helped to pay off their building and purchase a new, larger building, and implemented new conferences, partnerships with other associations, and professional development opportunities for members and non-members. She serves more than 17,000 members and oversees a staff of 21. Lori is also on the board of the Texas Society of Association Executives and SXSWedu and recently served as the Regional Program Chair for the ISTE 2017 Convention in San Antonio.

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