Tag Archives: Storytelling

The CMK Series – Part 3

CMK_Wordle

To conclude my CMK Series, I wanted to reflect on some of the amazing people and ideas that were a part of the Institute.

There was no shortage of impressive and inspiring speakers at #CMK13. The list included people from a variety of fields, who brought unique perspectives to making and learning. For example, Eleanor Duckworth, an inspiration for all educators and particularly those of us passionate about early childhood education, paired up with Deborah Meier and together they shared their views on discovery learning, wonderful ideas, and democracy in education.

Jimmy Heath and Emmet Cohen

In stark contrast to their dialogue on education, we heard from jazz musicians Jimmy Heath and Emmet Cohen, who spoke of mentorship, improv, and creating something unique that connects with people and speaks to them. At the MIT Media Lab we heard innovative and even mind blowing ideas about what can be done when you invite an entire city to create something together using music and technology from Tod Machover and we were treated to thoughtful and amusing commentary by Dr. Marvin Minsky.

And yet, as diverse as all of the these and the other speakers were at #CMK13, I found that they were all united by three things: storytelling, passion, and courage.

Each person had engaging, personal stories to tell of working on their projects and what they learned from those experiences. Listening to these stories, you could hear the passion in their voices and understand, at least a little bit, why their project was so meaningful and important, even if you had never done anything similar before.

Duckworth spoke of making colored tubes and experimenting with science; Meier spoke of the courage they needed to persevere when Harvard didn’t want to give credit for their course; Heath shared tales of playing in Philadelphia, learning from talented peers and Cohen shared the power of just working together with a mentor like Heath. We were regaled with stories about Machover visiting Toronto and working with thousands of different people to create and capture sounds and in hearing these stories you could begin to understand how the power of their work spread.

As a listener, I wanted to jump right into those projects and I wanted to go out and start researching and learning more about them to see how I might be able to do something similar or recreate them in a completely new way. Their stories were inspirational and empowering and most important, they shared passion and passed on courage to all of us as listeners.

These same concepts – storytelling, passion, courage – united the CMK participants. If we didn’t already, we all now have our own stories to tell from #CMK13 and I think we were all drawn to the Institute by our passion – for making, tinkering, and learning. That passion is what will continue to inspire us to share our stories with friends and colleagues both virtually and in-person so that we might be able to encourage others to dive into this “maker movement” they’ve heard about and bring it to their students too.

Finally, like the speakers we heard, I think everyone at #CMK13 has a good dose of courage that they pull on when they hit funding or ideological roadblocks, when they’re stuck on a project or feeling isolated and even getting pushback against integrating making into the classroom or curriculum. This courage is what will help bring making into professional development and into our classrooms! Are you ready to start? Let’s get Making!

 

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Bringing Stories to Life – Digitally!

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Last week, I spent the majority of my #etmooc time trying new digital storytelling tools (GIFs, Flip Books, Visual Poetry5 Card Flickr) and posting about my explorations and learnings. This week, I wanted to hold off testing more tools (PopcornMaker, Inklewriter & Stop Motion are high on my list!) so I could take time to reflect on the concept of digital storytelling and consider the value of it in the classroom.

Over the past few years, as I’ve learned of new tools and experimented with ways to engage children and adult learners in digital storytelling, I have been impressed with the depth of expression I have seen. Digital storytelling seems to break down barriers (e.g., fears, time concerns, language) that often prevent people from engaging in tech use. Once people see how easy a tool like Voicethread or Storybird can be to use, they are excited to tell their own stories and to collaborate with others in creating.

I think our motivation for connectedness and the inherently personal nature of stories is why I find digital storytelling so powerful. Everyone has a story to tell and I love providing my students and teachers with tools to bring those stories to life.

Last week, when I was experimenting with different tools, I was caught up in the excitement and natural engagement that comes from active learning and discovery and the knowledge that I had the power to create and share something with the world. It’s empowering to have that “I can do this” moment and to be able to add a new tool to your toolbox, one that is fun to use and allows you to convey a story in just the right way (whether that’s through visuals, audio, text, or some combination).  I want all of my students to have those moments and realize that there is a large array of tools they can use to share their stories and they don’t all have to choose the same one.

As I thought about my explorations last week, I realized that another important factor motivating me to create and share was the knowledge that I was part of a community that was listening. I had an authentic audience that was waiting for stories just like mine and I was able to visit that community at any point to ask questions, find support, and learn from the stories everyone else was telling. I want to reflect more on the how valuable it is for our students to know they have an online community who is listening to them and willing to read their work and hear their stories. How can we cultivate that community for and with them? Certainly sites like Edmodo and hashtags like #Comments4Kids help but how can we ensure that our students aren’t sending meaningful projects and stories out into a silent and empty online space?

The benefits of incorporating digital storytelling in the classroom seem clear to me:

  • Learn how to communicate/tell stories through different media (e.g., video, dictation, writing, pictures)
  • Examine the value of different types of stories and storytelling methods (e.g., poetry, short stories, six word stories, picture stories)
  • Build an understanding of technology as a tool to create and tell stories
  • Provide opportunities for students to collaborate on stories
  • Explore the ability to tell the same story in a variety of ways
  • Identify ways that culture and context can affect a story and ways of telling a story
  • Practice creating stories to teach an idea or new concept to others
  • Gain comfort using, mixing, and re-mixing content and digital tools to create stories

I’m sure there are more but these seem like some of the core skills and understandings that can be acquired by incorporating digital storytelling in the classroom. They connect with the 21st Century Skills of communication and collaboration, creativity and innovation, and critical thinking. These are also skills that will be valuable as students grow older and need to tell stories on college applications or to their employers. When you pitch a new product or propose a new scientific investigation, aren’t you telling a story? The more I think about it, the more invaluable (digital) storytelling seems to become given how much of our lives we spend telling stories, in one form or another.

With that in mind, I want to re-examine my own curriculum and consider how digital stories are already being incorporated and if there are more/better ways to integrate them into our classrooms. We have already created a number of digital stories this year but I want to keep pushing myself and my students’ to continue discovering, experimenting with, creating, and sharing digital stories. How are you using digital storytelling in education? 

Elmo Loves You - A Valentine Digital Story

A Digital Valentine Story

Image Credit: Sesame Street