Digital Storytelling

Last week, we were fortunate enough to have Alan Levine talk to our class about digital storytelling. It was a really interesting discussion all about engaging students using storytelling. This could either be done by presenting the lesson in a storytelling format, having the students present something about themselves in a storytelling format, or even, have the entire class collaborate in a shared story.

The big takeaway message from this discussion was: storytelling is a way of creating a conversation with students in order to engage the class in a learning experience. My initial thought was: Great! But is this something I could realistically use in a physics/math classroom?

The answer: totally.

To a smaller extent, this was something that I stumbled upon during my block. During the momentum unit in physics, I gave a presentation about my experiences at SNO. The presentation contained information that was part of the curriculum, but – and I didn’t realize it at the time – I ended up presenting it as a story. I noticed that they were really engaged in the story as I was telling it – although I didn’t actually realize why until Alan talked about the power of storytelling.

Here’s another example that Alan shared with us on how storytelling can be used in a math/science class.

What I really liked about this ‘story’ is that it has no words! A narrative with a strong inquiry element for students to fill in the blanks. After showing something like this to a science class, we could have a great discussion about how her setup worked.

During the background chat, people were also talking about using storytelling in a science class to present the history of some discovery. Totally. Those lessons about the history of something are usually pretty dry. But spice it up with a story format, maybe add some side notes about the eccentric scientists involved, and it suddenly becomes engaging.

Alan also gave us some great resources. I recommend bookmarking his wiki page dedicated to digital storytelling, and his wiki page dedicated to 50 web 2.0 ways to tell a story (inspired, of course, by Paul Simon’s 50 ways to leave your lover).

Some other really amazing ideas he left us with: he used voicethread to record his mom’s voice talking about a family picture (great way to record voices/experiences from the past). Beyond teaching, he also introduced us to Pechaflickr (which he invented!) as a fun game to play with a class or with friends – creating a story based on random flickr images.

Thanks, Alan! It was a really great talk that I’m definitely going to use in my future classes.

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3 thoughts on “Digital Storytelling

  1. CogDog says:

    Thanks for the kind write-up and hope you get some use out of the pile of links I tossed your way (small note, the VoiceThread was not my family story but that of the guy who created the site)

  2. Andrew says:

    Great post, it really is an important thing for us to incorporate into our classrooms whenever we can. I’m sure all of us do it without even thinking about it (like you in your placement) but perhaps we should be placing even more of an emphasis on it!

  3. Wow…love the video. Sounds like many of the resources presented by Alan intrigued you. I look forward to seeing how you might incorporate them into your next block.


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