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Digital Storytelling and Literary and
Non-literary text English Education

The Digital Story format is a simple but highly effective filmic form. Its simplicity allows flexible use within education.

The basic process of

identifying the main idea
constructing a text based script
recording and editing a voice over
deciding which visual elements will best support the voice over
(with or without story board)
creating or collecting visual elements
editing duration of visual elements and transitions between them to support the voiceover
possible adding of sound effects and music
title and credits

provides many opportunities for students to use their imagination to 'interpret and construct English texts that share their experiences of the world, to explore ideas and information, and to make sense of topics and issues beyond their immediate experience.'(1- English Essential Learnings by the end of Year 5)

The digital story is essentially a first person narrative and in that form can be used for:
biographies and autobiographies
factual accounts
articles and features

A digital story based around an object or photograph important to the student, for example, can provide a focus for all of the above and allow students to create stories around an amazing diversity of themes.

A class photo, team or family photo can allow a student to recall an event or events and describe the roles or the different participants, making observations, comments and interpretations.

In collaboratively exploring and identifying story ideas and/or planning a joint digital story project students engage in 'informing, presenting simple arguments, negotiating relationships and transactions, and seeking opinions of others.' (1)

Generally speaking factual, non-fictional, reports, accounts, autobiographies and narratives are probably best as individual creations.

Fictional literary Digital Stories can be highly effective as team or class based projects.

Literary Text example
An example of this would be the preparation of a fable, folk tale or fairy tale using the Digital Story format. A description of a Year 3 project to create 'Magic Mini Movies' gives an understanding of possibilities.

students were asked to identify, list and discuss all of the fairy tales and fairy tale characters included in the Shrek movies
teams picked their own fairy tale and wrote their own fractured fairy tale versions
these versions were discussed and reviewed and one was picked as the class version
the class version was rewritten to encourage maximum participation of class members in different character roles, the narrator and sound effects
class workshops in telling stories expressively were given
class members rehearsed their parts in class
voice over was recorded in library
voice over was edited (this can be done by teacher or facilitator with data projector or magic board)
class session in multimedia lab using MovieMaker to import voice over and stock images
depending on ability either demonstration of editing of movie, transitions, effects, titles or credits or supervision of students work on these (for most year 3 students demonstration is more appropriate)
publishing of the different completed class movies on DVD or streaming web sites.
writing reviews and making presentations

This basic technique is infinitely expandable for a whole range of literary text exercises.

For example a Year 5 - 9 exercise could include:
selection of a poem
production of Digital Story based on the poem

selection of a poem
identifying a section of that reminds them of an autobiographical event
production of a Digital Story about the autobiographical event and that reflects the values explored in the poem

The Digital Story format is extremely flexible and works best when production levels are kept simple. This includes:
an emphasis on the voice over of the storyteller or narrator
supporting the voice over with digital still images and transitions
keeping digital video content to a minimum.

Blogs are highly useful as additional writing forums to accompany Digital Story projects.

An example of their use was the Bunya to Bay River Ambassadors where we used a Learning Place blog to develop scripts before the 2 day digital story creation and editing workshops. This enabled the script development to occur outside of the workshop from students home or class room.

Another is the use of the blog created for the 'Loving Logan Take 2' project with recent arrival refugee teenagers. The blog provided an interesting way to encourage them to engage in more written and spoken English and for the facilitators to provide feedback and support comments.

'With its unique blend of spoken and written language, and digital still and video visual elements, sound effects and music the Digital Story provides a plethora of educational opportunities.'

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Daryll Bellingham, Storyteller
P.O. Box 5300, West End, Q4101, 
Brisbane, Australia
Tel. 61 (0)7 3846 3135
Mob. 0417 478408
All contents copyright 2008, Daryll Bellingham. All rights reserved.
Last update: 1st September, 2008.
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