Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Storytelling 2.0

     There have been many different versions of storytelling throughout time.  It is one of the ways that we communicate and learn from one another.  The most basic form is simply through the words of another person, as they weave words into imagery.  I always think back to when I was very young and my mother would tell stories to my brother and I.  One of my favorites was the story of the Three Little Pigs.  My mom would change her voice for the different characters and interact with us as the story went on.  It created a lasting memory.

     I was reminded how powerful storytelling can be during the summer when I was in class at the University of Portland.  As part of one of my graduate classes, my classmates and I shared stories about our diverse and unique life experiences.  One of my classmates, Gabe, has an uncanny ability to hold the attention of everyone in the room with his words.  I’ll never forget how he was telling us a story of his time in Japan.  When he finished his story, half the class had to take a break and leave the room.  His words permeated throughout the air and affected us so deeply.  

     During the same semester, I also became engrossed in expanding my knowledge of using technology in the classroom.  Not being an Apple person, I purchased an Android tablet.  My use of that device lasted all of about three weeks.  I became frustrated with its’ interface and I was having issues with the screen.  I decided to break down and trade it in for the new, at the time, iPad 3.  To say that I have become an iPad fan would be an understatement.

     While exploring the uses of the iPad for use in the classroom, I came across Kathy Schrock’s website.  I became both ecstatic and engrossed with the myriad of possibilities that this device could offer students and teachers in the classroom.  Her page, Bloomin’ Apps, incorporating Bloom’s Taxonomy and device apps is mind blowing.  During my exploration of that page I came across the process of digital storytelling and how it can be used with students to help them explore and gain knowledge.  The idea of combining the art of storytelling with technology in the classroom got me extremely excited, and I knew that I had to explore this concept even more. Being able to put visuals such as images, maps, and charts, together with storytelling creates a much more in depth experience that involves and stimulates more of one's multiple intelligences.

     In the midst of my exploration, I felt like a digital Indiana Jones, I came across an app for the iPad, and other iOS devices, called Puppet Pals.  This was my Sivalinga Stone, Holy Grail, and Ark of the Covenant all in one.  This app could allow for students to explore, construct, and learn with ease.  After buying the the Director’s Pass for only $2.99 I could create a digital story about any subject I wanted.  The most exciting part for me was that I could incorporate myself, friends, family, and more importantly history into my stories.  With the Director’s Pass I now had the ability to research tell a historical story with ease.  The app allows you to take, or import pictures, from your iPad and make them part of your story. Being a visual learner myself, digital storytelling allows me to experience history in a new and exciting way.

     After seeing the movie Lincoln, I decided to explore the Civil War through my own digital story.  The Puppet Pals app gave me a welcoming interface and environment to express some of my ideas and thoughts about the Civil War.  This is what I came up with.

     During the course of the Revolutions! unit, students will be creating their own digital stories using the iPad and the Puppet Pals app.  As I transition to the next step of my student teaching at Catlin Gabel, I will be coaching the students on how to use the app, and how to create their own historical digital story.  I believe that the process of digital storytelling will create excitement, intrigue, exploration, and growth in both the students and me.

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