Have you ever tried to cancel “Show-and-Tell” in an elementary classroom? If you have, you’ll understand when I say, all students have stories to tell, and most students LOVE to tell them. It’s truly one of the highlights of the week for some students. Taking this enthusiasm for story telling and transferring it to the skill of writing is one of my true loves of teaching. Listening to students’ stories and opening their eyes to the fact that stories are all around them is important. It is how they find their voice.
In the past I would have my fifth-grade students use Google Slides to create quazi-digital stories. It was clunky and occasionally frustrating for them as they had so many ideas that this platform could not support. They’d use the presentation platform to create an e-book and then I’d transfer them to a PDF format and upload them to the class web-site. It was very limited and didn’t create the excitement for storytelling that I was hoping for.
Through this class I’ve been exposed to so many different platforms and ideas of storytelling. From the use of Google My Maps and Twitter which I had never thought of as tools for storytelling, to the use of Sway and Spark both great easy platforms to create digital stories, I know that my toolbox for teaching storytelling is now much larger.
I plan to use these tools and my new understanding when I work with the students in the Digital Media Club at my school. This opportunity is currently open to fifth-graders and it happens every third day during their lunch and recess time. One of the strong components of this club is the emphasis on story planning. In the past we’ve always used storyboards and story maps to help the students plan out their projects. Now I hope to incorporate Mitchel Resnick’s design process of imagine, create, play, share, reflect, imagine….
The traditional story planning process of plan, create, revise, and publish can be too linear for some students. These students have taken it upon themselves to include play in their creating process and before this class, it was something I often thought I needed to shorten or stifle in the quest to get to the step of publish. I’ve realized that the inclusion of play is natural and so important. Some students may never get to the step of reflect in this club, and that’s okay. The purpose of this club might change from providing students with opportunities to produce digital media to providing a place for students to have an experience using technology to create. I like the way that feels. It’s more natural.
I chose to take this class because I needed an elective and I am so glad that I did. While in this class I’ve found myself thinking about stories and storytelling throughout my day while I work with students. I’ve listened to the stories they tell differently. I am no longer impatient and hopeful that they will soon “get to the point.” I am now listening to the process of the telling and understand their need to be heard throughout their telling. Are they shy and quiet and does the story skip and jump through time and space as if they are leaving out important details? Are they so excited that I find myself counting the number of times they say, “And then..?” The process of storytelling is just as important as the story itself.
This class has expanded my teaching toolbox, made me a better listener, and rekindled my love of writing and teaching.