Monday, February 10, 2014

Digital Storytelling

I absolutely adore Digital Storytelling.  Since I started teaching Computers 5 years ago, I have taught digital storytelling every year.  Most years, I have even run a digital storytelling after-school club.

There are many ways to teaching students to create a digital story.  Since I usually teach it to first graders I provide the students with a planning sheet for Beginning, Middle, and End.  Students usually have complete freedom of characters, setting, and plot as long as: the beginning introduces the story, the middle shows a problem, and the end solves the problem.  If I taught it to older grades, there were more requirements. Students drew their pictures in a drawing program on the computer and combined it with their recorded voices in GarageBand.

This year, I did I did it differently and if I must say, it was awesome.

First I started the students out with the app Story Wheel of the iPad. There is a free and a paid version of this app.  The free version gives students one theme to choose from, Story Teller, and the paid version provides Story Teller plus Space, Pirates, and Knights and Princesses.

Students work alone, in pairs, or in groups to create a story.  First, they spin the wheel and land on an
image.  They have 30 seconds to record a part of the story.  If they make a mistake they can rerecord.  Next, thye pass the iPad for the next person in their group to spin the wheel and do the same.  Students are supposed to build on each others recordings to build a story.  Once complete, the story is played back with the animated images.  It can be exported and shared as an ibook.  I do not like that the students cannot pause when recording or go back and change a recording after they have clicked Next Player.

First, I put students into pairs, or groups of three.  I showed them how to use the app and gave them freedom of theme since we have the paid version.  Groups who struggled to keep a single story going were told to repeat something their partner said while recording their own 30 seconds.  The first graders had so much fun they asked to make second stories when they finished their first.  They wanted to share all their stories with me.  The next week, they saw the iPads and asked right away if we were using Story Wheel again. I think this app is great for storytelling, group work, creativity, and much more.

If you have iBooks your your iPad, iPhone, or computer, here are some samples I exported:
Story 1 Link
Story 2 Link
To learn more about Story Wheel, head to their website:

Never wanting to dissapoint, the second week I introduced the students to a new app, Puppet Pals.  In heterogenous groups students worked together to choose characters and write a story.  First they created a storyboard in which  I emphasized the use of adjectives to help keep their stories interesting.  Students then used the app Puppet Pals HD to create their stories.

Puppet Pals is another app that has both a free version and a paid version.  This is one of my all time
favorite apps for elementary age students.  The free version comes with one theme, Wild West.  Each theme has different characters and backdrops.  The paid version, or the Director's Pass, has many more themes such as: Pirates, Fairy Tales, Zombies, Political, Talk Show, etc.

This app is great for storytelling, speaking, character writing, listening, and so much more.  Students will select their characters, their backdrops, and then record their voices while moving the characters around.  Characters can be resized, rotated, and can change directions.  Unlike Story Wheel, students can pause and continue recording.  If you are savvy in Movie Maker or iMovie you can export multiple parts and combine them.  This allows students to record at different times.  (This is also great if you only  have a few or even 1 iPad to share with your class.)

Here are some sample stories from my first graders:

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