How to link digital storytelling to play? This is the question that has been bouncing around my head this week. There has been a decisive move toward structure, instruction of curriculum, and a focus on test scores. Beginning on the second week of school my students are in the computer lab completing MAP (measures of academic performance) and AIMS assessments. Our children are entering school with fewer social skills and limited academic skills. Most have never held a pencil and many have never had a book read to them. Yet we expect them to come to school ready to learn. We put pencil in their hand and tell them to write this letter and that letter.
Now, add in Covid-19 and we has a group of entering students who have been watching adults and siblings struggle to cope with a reality they never thought they’d see. Sometimes they are being watched by older brothers and sisters who are trying their best to take care of them while doing school work, or parents who are stressed out because they don’t know what the next day will bring. They are even further behind than in the past.
One way to help these young learners overcome their obstacles is to provide opportunities for play. Heath explains that as children play they are undertaking perception, action and cognition simultaneously. Through play children create a better understanding of language and meaning. Play provides opportunities to explore their environment.
In the case of my lesson The ABC’s of Sunshine, from digital wish, it is integrated into the workings of the lesson. Not in the traditional sense of playing with objects, but in the idea that students are creating their story through what they are seeing in life. It is more of seeing the world through their eyes. They are using the photographs they take to share the world and the objects they see as important. Part of this means allowing them to pull out their iPad to take a picture when they find what they want to take a picture of, during an appropriate time of course…not the middle of a math lesson. Maybe this means during free play or as they are eating lunch.
I also see some possibilities to make this an evolving project over the year as was suggested in the comments of the initial posting. I am envisioning the initial book as being a collaborative class book as described in the lesson plan. Where a student or a pair of students focus on their letter to find the items to photograph. Then as a class we create the storyboard, write the words, and publish the book. As an evolving project over the year, I would want each student to create pages for multiple letters or possibly all of them. We spend a week on each letter, so it is possible that each week the students take pictures that represent that letter. This would allow each student to have created their own alphabet book by the end of the year. In creating their own book, I’d like to see the students have the opportunity to create collections of images for each letter, a montage of sorts. I haven’t narrowed down what this would look like yet. It could be they create a display of their objects and take a picture, or they can take multiple pictures and put them together like a collage. I am partial to the collage since it opens up the possibility of them adding pictures from outside of school and other parts of the building. It would also allow them to play and manipulate the images to create the page they like for each letter. I feel like this act of manipulating the images could also connect to concept of play as well because they are using their own creativity and imagination to create their vision of what they think the page should look like.
While I am drawn to the digital version, I know the importance of having a tangible keepsake from kindergarten. This allows students to look back and reflect on all they have accomplished. This doesn’t mean, I have ruled out the possibility. It might be interesting to have the students record the final book, through book creator. This would provide the experience of creating both types of books.
Digital Wish. https://www.digitalwish.com/dw/digitalwish/view_lesson_plans?keyword=digital%20storytelling
Heath, S.B. (2013). The Hand of Play in Literacy Learning. International Handbook of Research on Children’s Literacy,Learning, and Culture .[electronic resource].(pp. 184-198).Wiley- Blackwell.