Technology is at it's finest when it is seamlessly integrated into classroom curriculums. So often, teachers see technology tools as something "extra". With so many different responsibilities relating to both curriculum and teaching in general, the idea of learning new, unfamiliar tools can be quite overwhelming for teachers. In my own growth as an educational technology evangelist, my angst was lessened as I learned tools that would enhance curriculum lessons and areas that were already in full swing in my classroom. I read articles and blogs about SAMR and TPACK models, which at their foundation encourage teachers to find the intersection of pedagogy, content, and technology in their classrooms in ways that will redefine lessons in new, innovative, and transformative ways.
Digital storytelling was my entry point into the educational technology world because it just seemed so natural. I was really reflecting on meaningful ways for my first grade students to "publish" their writer's workshop finished pieces. Until that point, I would just have children share their writing pieces with peers at "publishing parties" and then simply slap their writing up on a bulletin board. This practice was feeling quite stale to me. Enter technology....
Once I started to explore technology tools for the 5 iPads I had in my classrooms, I started to find amazing tools that would allow my students to add their voice to their writing while creating a video file. Kids could create movies now highlighting their stories! This developed into kids sharing their writing movies with their families at conferences and eventually expanded to sharing through classroom blogs and digital portfolio tools such as SeeSaw. My student's audience grew to authentically include parents, other classrooms, and eventually peers across the country. This all happened because I tinkered with technology tools in the hopes of enhancing my writer's workshop!
So what are some first steps for people interested in getting started with digital storytelling! Here is a simple list to get you started...
Reflect by looking at your writer's block in your classroom. Is there any part of it that is lacking or feels stale? Have your students show any interest or expressed any desire to try something new? How's brainstorming going? Are your students having trouble with spelling? Are they developing student voice?
Once you identify an area that you feel you can enhance, TINKER! Do some online research, attend a conference, chat with a peer and find some technology tools that might meet the need of your writing block. Play with the tool as you plan an upcoming unit and brainstorm ways you might use the tool!
Try the new tool! Don't be afraid to fail and embrace learning the tool in front of your students. Co-learning a technology tool with young kids olds does not need to be humiliating! My students loved teaching me things they knew about their iPads! They got a kick out my mistakes and truly appreciated when I asked for the help. Start small and expand and don't forget to include your students.
Reflect on how the tool worked! Did it transform the learning experience? Were kids engaged? Take time and reflect on whether or not another tool might be better for your next unit. Don't feel married to the new tool! If it didn't work, there are plenty others to try!
Share your experience with your peers! It might help their growth and you never know who might have a new idea! Sharing is such a pivotal part of the learning process so put yourself out there and share the highs and lows of your educational technology adventures!
Reflect, Tinker, Try, Reflect, Share! Those are the 5 steps I always take when I am trying a new tool! They have lead me on such a journey! My students went from bulletin board ready writing to creating green screen and stop-motion movies! It has been quite the journey and I would be happy to share my highs and lows with anyone who is ready to try!!
Thank you for reading,
Check out these amazing teaching and learning blogs
Michael Fricano's Blog
2 Guys and Some iPads
Kristin Ziemke's Page
Don Goble's Blog
Mrs. Wideen's Blog