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Digital Storytelling February 17, 2010

Posted by fafeeley in Uncategorized.

Over the last few years I have been exposed to digital storytelling projects at conferences and each time been impressed by student work and intrigued by the possibililties for my own students.  I maintain dozens of sets of photos on Facebook from my personal life and always caption the photos to convey the high points of vacations, parties, etc. I was already engaging in a form of digital storytelling.

However, it seemed to me that I would have to make a large investment in new equipment and training, so let’s just say I was postponing my first foray into digital storytelling in the classroom.

Then yesterday I was exposed to Voicethread.com at a meeting of Project ELITE. We were asked to bring photos of our libraries to the meeting and assigned to create a story about our libraries.

So check this out!   


This product took about 90 minutes to complete. The basic Voicethread service is free (and can be expanded in terms of options and storage space for K-12 schools for $10.00 a month). The site can be accessed from anywhere, and students’ work is easily saved and stored for future edits and sharing. This may not be my final destination for digital storytelling, but I can begin using it immediately with students. It’s that simple.

And I already have collaborateors lined up! The 6th grade English teacher at my school has been eager to collaborate. The social studies/Spanish teacher has collaborated with me and the tech teacher on a series of projects over the last two years, and her grade-level colleague is eager to get on board the collaborative project train. The proposed project is still in the idea phase, but it will basically be a biography project focusing on famous women in history. The students will seek and explore information and images from print and online resources. Based on their research, they will craft scripts in the voice of their subjects (in the first person). They will have the option to create the images for their Voicethread stories in PowerPoint. That way they can enhance images with graphics of their chooseing (later saving them as JPEG’s ready to upload into Voicethread). They can write their story scripts in the “notes” section of the corresponding PowerPoint slides. They will create bibliographies in PowerPoint and then display them at the end of their digital stories, appropriately crediting their sources of information and images.

Among the concepts and skills included in this project include the following: famous women in history, perspective, script writing, reading/listening/speaking/writing, the Big6, ethical use of information (citations, bibliographies), storyboarding,  online publishing, online sharing, various presentation software functions, and use of cameras, microphones, etc.

I definitely anticipate using digital storytelling to provide students a mechanism for telling personal stories or sharing information about issues about which they feel passionate. But at this point it’s providing a new information product option for 6th graders who have grown a little tired of creating and giving PowerPoint presentations to share research findings. It’s occurred to me that some students are more comfortable than others giving live presentations. Perhaps the opportunity to record presentation comments (video and audio recordings, etc.) ahead of time will provide some students the chance to shine in a way that was not possible for them in a live presentation.



1. Lisa Perez - February 22, 2010

Hi Fran: It sounds like you have some great ideas for using VoiceThread with your students. You may want to communicate with Mary Beth; she is considering doing Women’s History VoiceThreads with her students, too.

Great job with your library VoiceThread! You have an excellent library, by all appearances!

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