Saturday, March 18, 2017

Creating digital stories

Hello, colleagues!

I have not had a great week. In fact, turning 33 hasn't been pleasant so far. We've had a rough week of testing, and I found out that I was not accepted to the Google Innovator Academy. Whenever I have a crisis of conscience, I like to reflect on myself, my curriculum, in this case, my application, and my future in education. It's hard not to be bummed even though I knew it was a long shot. It was my first attempt, and I don't think I presented how innovative I am as a teacher. One thing that became apparent to me is that I have to put myself out there. I have good ideas, but I need to present them. I can no longer let my introversion get in the way of my big and bright future. So with that, I am going to share a unit that I just finished with my students: creating digital stories.

What is a digital story? To me, a digital story is a story made digital. Seems simple enough, right? I'm not a Language Arts teacher, but I want to my students create historical stories. I want them to be creative but historically accurate. I don't want my students to retell history but instead present something in a new and different way. I'm not letting my students create stories over whatever they want, but they do have a choice in what they create.

So here is a quick and dirty version of creating digital stories in your American history classroom
1. Have the students choose a topic. In my class, they picked from a list of Colorado historical and modern topics. Students chose their top nine, and literally, everyone was able to get one of their top choices.
2. Have the students briefly research the subject (5Ws) in order to find three characters (real people) involved in their topic.
3. After researching further, have the students pick one person that they will investigate. This individual will be the students' narrator (does not matter if male or female).
4. Have the students find an abstract idea that best fits with their person. It could be a "good" or "bad" abstract idea; in the end, they are using this open-ended concept to create an essential question that guides their story.

5. Have the students design a plot line that tells a STORY, not the personal history of this person. I told the students that their story could take place over no more than five years.
6. Have the students design their script. The script is the expanded version of the plot line entirely written out in first-person. The idea is that the student embodies their character as the narrator.
7. Have the students research to find images that they will use in their digital story. Students were required to find a new image every ten seconds. A minimum of eight of their images had to be found from Library of Congress, the Denver Public Library, or our local Pikes Peak Library District.
8. Have the students upload their images to iMovie in which they will recite their script over the images as a narration.

These are some of my favorite projects over the years...

This is a solid project that my students have done for six years. They really enjoy diving into Colorado history, they love having choice, and they enjoy designing iMovies. But a word of caution...
Thanks for reading. Because of Spring break (for two weeks!), my next blog will be on April 8th! I'll see you then :)

- Rachel
My Teacherspayteachers website