Story, Story I got a Story!

This week’s presentation focused on digital storytelling by Alan Levine! I wonder how many Maroon 5 jokes he gets? I think there was about two during his presentation. Alan may not be a famous rock star but after this presentation and following his blog CogDog, I would say he is a rock star when it comes to the education/technology world. He has developed many web storytelling apps/programs that I will later post in my blog. From my observation he has a huge passion for storytelling and knows what makes a great story. Even my little Adalee wanted in on the action last evening!

Adalee and I working on ECI831. She thought it was a great story! She loves story time.

Adalee and I working on ECI831. She thought it was a great story! She loves being read to and Dr. Seuss is becoming her favorite.

Before the class started I thought I had a good idea of what digital story telling was all about. My initial thoughts were that digital story telling was a way of telling a story through technology. I am kind of embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know as much as I thought I did. Through the presentation, classmates suggestions and research, I have learned of some amazing tools that can help assist with the process of writing and telling stories.I honestly think I have been living under a rock! Why haven’t I looked into this earlier? I have always had difficulties engaging students when it comes to writing projects, why haven’t I tried to incorporate technology, something that they love with the writing process. The power of collaborating with colleagues and other professionals is amazing. Thank you all who shared some wonderful resources on digital story telling!

With out this presentation I may still have been re inventing the wheel when I return to work. I have tried many different techniques to engage students and trigger their creative side when getting them to write stories. I would show a picture similar to the one below and teach students about adding dialog between two characters in a story. Students enjoyed this activity. I now realize that I should have been taking time to find other tools that would get my reluctant writes to share their stories.
Great picture of two characters in conflict with eachother.
Photo Credit: EltonHarding via Compfight cc

During the class presentation we were shown pechaflickr. It is basically what I was trying to do in the classroom but way easier to use. Pechaflickr will randomly choose images from flickr that has a specific tag like “dog”. Each picture will show for 20 seconds. While doing this you could have students write a story to an image, write an entire story using every picture, orally tell a story out loud or maybe even use it as a warm up activity in drama, practicing improv skills. Oh the possibilities!

As I promised I am going to list some other digital storytelling sites that you can use too! I did not find all of these myself I had help from my classmates and web sites who all ready did the work for me!

A digital comic I created from using the site

A digital comic I created from using the site

I really could go on and on with the amount of possibilities there are in the digital world.  I would love to hear from others about other websites that are available and ones that students loved as well.

The presentation also gave me ideas about how to teach students about writing a good story. Showing examples of commercials and by simply asking what types of stories students like to read will help them explore the importance of making strong characters and have exciting things happen to them. I hope along with digital storytelling I can help  improve their creative writing and passion for stories.

One question that I have is how to incorporate First Nation traditions of oral story telling into the digital world? Or do we even need to do that? I know that as an educator I should try to do more orally story telling and encourage students to do that also.

I am now going to go through all of my old books that my mom saved and read my daughter a few stories. I hope she will develop a love of reading and storytelling. What is your favorite story? I would love to hear from you!

A suitcase full of books from when I was a little girl. Some even belonged to my Dad.

A suitcase full of books from when I was a little girl. Some even belonged to my Dad.


About tarasmith311

Hello my name is Tara. I am an educator and a new mom to a beautiful girl Adalee. I am staying at home for the year to raise my little one but miss being in the classroom every day. I have been teaching middle year students for five years. I have decided to continue my education by taking my Masters in Educational Psychology through the University of Regina. My dream would to one day be a guidance counselor. In my free time I love to be around the pool. I have played competitive water polo for many years and have been coaching the sport for over ten years. I look forward to my journey as a new mom and life long learner.
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16 Responses to Story, Story I got a Story!

  1. Kelly says:

    I love reading stories with my children – I still have a 5yrold and we often make up the noises and voices to go along with the stories. When my girls were little, we didn’t have a tv which meant that we read – a lot! My girls all have favourite books – which we still have for each of them. I also loved listening to my grandmother tell stories. Although I think that the digital tools are one way to tell a story, I also see that children love to draw and colour and tell their stories and we can’t forget that part of storytelling. My favourite story is “Going to the hospital” which I must have read a bazillion times to my girls – along with all the voices. It still makes me smile as I remember my girls and I all cuddled on the bed as I read the story – making funny voices as we read. Now, as a stay-at-home dad, finding time to read with my youngest is something that is important because of the relationships. No matter the format, I believe it’s the relationships that stories create that are at core and helping students tell their stories is such a powerful gift. I wish you all the best as you return to work and help students tell their stories!


  2. tarasmith311 says:

    Thanks Kelly. I do believe that reading and telling stories is very important with developing strong relationships. I also think it promotes creativity and imagination. It has been so great to read out loud every day to a little one! I cherish these moments and hope my daughter does too one day.


  3. mybrainstorm says:

    I think digital story telling (at least with images rather than video) is the ultimate picture book! It’s so intuitive especially for little ones and a great way to encourage language development. The cliche is true….a picture really is worth a 1000 words. (yup, I said it;)


  4. tarasmith311 says:

    Couldn’t agree more! Have you used digital story telling at all with young ones?


  5. mybrainstorm says:

    No but…
    they LOVE looking at pics of themselves and are so engaged with my iphone!
    I have a set of 52 primary readers (I See Sam) and the first ones are basically pictures with 1-2 words. Great intro to having them figure out stories by using pics. (google I See Sam…it’s out of print but you can download them online. My kids loved them and were so motivated to read the next book!…I guess you’ll have them on the shelf for a while but bookmark it for later;)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. CogDog says:

    Hi Tara. i actually had to look up Maroon 5. I really feel sorry for Adam Levine as he must always be getting emails and tweets aimed at me. I hope he is good at answering technical questions.

    Thank you and Adalee for joining in the session and sharing your take aways. I bet she gets plenty of storytime with you.

    As far as your First nations question, do not feel like you have to pull out a lo of technology… there us a reason why the oral story has lasted so long, it is very effective. There is a whole lot you can do with creating audio stories that are much more than just a recording (e.g. learn how to create a layered soundscape of ambient sounds, effects, and how you can manipulate audio like text). There are many good audio podcast dramas I use n my teaching, including This American Life, Radio Lab, and a dramatic one called The Truth. The production quality on these are really compelling, and the thing about audio is that the listener has to fill in much more with their own imagination.

    Or think of symbols and metaphors; one of the more popular ds106 assignments is the Four Icon story; we’ve seen it adopted for primary levels (I did a session based on it with second graders)

    So sometimes the simpler assignments are better because they call for interpretation.

    Happy storymaking….


  7. tarasmith311 says:

    Thank you Alan. I forgot about audio and podcasts as a way of listening to stories. Which is weird because I have been listening to Audio books for a while now. My husband always has news talk radio on when we drive. Although I am a more visual learner, I think it would be a fantastic assignment to listen to stories and draw what you hear. I love seeing students engaged when they are read to or when they hear a story orally. I am definitely finding a new love of stories once again with a little one around.


  8. andrewforeman21 says:

    The Very Hungry Caterpillar is the story of the month in our household!


  9. jocelynskogberg says:

    I love reading in general. As a teacher in elementary school I love to read the books that my students are reading. Anytime I see a student really engaged in a book I will figure out what it is and go out and read it myself. My two newest to read books are the latest book from the Percy Jackson Series and the last books from the Giver series. For children’s books I love the Eric Carl books for their colourful images.

    Thanks for sharing some of your resources I can’t wait to try a few out. I want to try the comic strip story app as a way to present what you know.


  10. tarasmith311 says:

    I hope you find the resources useful! I would love to hear the ones that you tried in the classroom as well. I am not a huge reader but I am falling in love with children books again!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. tarasmith311 says:

    A great story! I think there will be a lot of books for baby this holiday season!


  12. jocelynskogberg says:

    In my role as an LRT I use Fountas and Pinnell Leveled Literacy Intervention. I love the program and I’ve seen great results from my students. It builds their reading fluency, decoding and comprehension and my favorite is that it builds their confidence in reading


  13. Like Andrew, I also love classics such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I have always enjoyed Robert Munsch (because of the humour) and Dr. Seuss (because of the clever rhyming). For my own pleasure, I am currently reading The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons and also enjoy The Hunger Games and Divergent series. I enjoy Stephen King novels at times as well. I read a lot!

    To answer your question, I had this idea of asking my students to form a circle on the floor near the projector in my room. The circle is such a powerful symbol in First Nations culture. Having them face a projector allows everyone to see the pictures that pop up during the pechaflickr activity (or any other activity you choose). If you don’t have a projector, you could hold the laptop and make the circle a little smaller so everyone could see the screen. Then, you could continue the activity from there. What do you think?

    Great ideas, Tara! Thank you for linking those digital storytelling websites in the middle of your post.


  14. tarasmith311 says:

    I use Fountas and Pinnell also! I use it as a tool to help make reading groups. I then test them at the end of the year so I can see their development. I get so excited when I see students improve reading levels. Better yet I love to hear students read out loud and be excited about it.


  15. jocelynskogberg says:

    I agree ans I love when I have reluctant readers pull their book from lli out of their bag and say this is so easy! They get excited to see what their new book is for the day and I love showing them how much they have grown!


  16. tarasmith311 says:

    That is a great idea. I think the circle is also more intimate and I think that story time should be just that. Stories are personal and should be about sharing. I am also hoping that I can try different story telling web sites and get students to choose the ones that they like best. I could even come up with a rating scale and the students can grade them! There really is so many resources out there!


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