Digital storytelling is a way to take storytelling or information-sharing into the digital realm. Through storyboarding and the use of a variety of digital tools to capture voice, images, and video, students can design, create, and share a digital story of information they have learned with their teacher, peers, and other authentic audiences. To develop a digital story, students should determine the story they want to tell or the information they want to share and then decide on a way to share it -- through video, images, song, or infographics. Then, teachers can support students to select an authentic audience with which to share their digital stories. Digital storytelling is one pathway to support the globalization of learning in the classroom.
1. Based on your objectives and learning targets, determine the type of digital storytelling task you would like students to complete in order to demonstrate their understanding (i.e., digital story, song, infographic, etc.), the tool you would like students to use to complete that task (see tech tools section below for some sample tools), and the way the work will be evaluated.
2. Model for students what a completed digital story looks like or show them a completed project created by you.
3. If necessary, have students engage in the research process to gather information to support their digital story. Be sure to have students select appropriate sources and assess website credibility by using the "Assessing Website Credibility" strategy and the "Examining Primary and Secondary Sources" strategy in the BetterLesson lab.
4. Have students engage in the writing process by drafting and outlining or creating a storyboard of their digital story before introducing the media component.
5. Provide an opportunity for students to seek and receive feedback on their drafts from their peers and from you. See the "T.A.G. for Peer Feedback" strategy, the "Speed Dating" strategy, or the "Two Stars and a Wish Feedback Protocol" strategy in the BetterLesson lab to learn more about ways students can provide feedback to each other.
6. Have students revise their drafts and then make a plan for the media component they select.
7. Support students to develop their digital story by helping them to create narration, select appropriate images, and/or record their digital story.
8. Have students share their digital stories with an authentic audience.
Songwriting in the classroom is a great way to engage students through music while honoring different learning styles and needs. Whether you're engaging with a new math concept, a social studies textbook chapter, or a short story, writing songs can help frame and motivate student learning.
Use the digital storytelling implementation steps above to have students engage in a songwriting as storytelling task being sure to support students to plan or storyboard their song, receive feedback, make revisions, and then identify an authentic audience.
Take a look at the resources below and this PDF SAM Planning Guide to explore the "SAM" songwriting method. This project will take at least three class periods: two for writing and one for performances.
Infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data, or knowledge that allow students to present information or their learnings efficiently and clearly.
Follow the Implementation Steps for Digital Storytelling above to support your students to develop infographics, and consult the resources below to see some student samples, articles, and a checklist to support you to have students use infographics to share their learning and knowledge in your classroom.
Using Digital storytelling as a way to take storytelling or information-sharing into the digital realm is a good tool to help engage students with disabilities. Teaching this strategy supports students with disabilities to be more engaged in the research process and build their confidence in using technology.
Using Digital Storytelling to help students design, create, and share a digital story of information they have learned requires significant executive functioning (task initiation, prioritization, working memory, etc.), emotional regulation, reading, and written expression skills. In order to support students with disabilities in these areas, consider the following modifications:
Use structured handouts that help students with task initiation as well as provide clear benchmarks (bolded words, bulleted lists) to assess task completion.
Use visual timers and verbal reminders to help students with task initiation and task completion during each step of the digital storytelling process. As an example, a teacher may say, “Now you will have five minutes to review your partner’s draft of their digital story. You should be looking for two pieces of positive feedback and one piece of growth feedback to share. After the timer for five minutes goes off, I will give everyone eight minutes to alter their draft given the feedback from their peers.”
Consider using the “quality over quantity” approach for students with disabilities affecting writing and reading skills to complete the task. As an example, a teacher may narrow a student’s focus to find three pieces of evidence for their story as opposed to four to give them more time to fully research and vet their sources and synthesize information.
If multiple teachers are present, careful thought should be put into co-teaching models and how they integrate into a differentiated lesson plan on digital storytelling. See the resources in the resource section below for more information.
This strategy provides an excellent opportunity for English learners to practice their language skills in an authentic way.
English learners are required to use all four domains of language, reading, writing, speaking, and listening while engaging with digital storytelling activities. In order to support English Learners consider the following modifications:
Provide graphic organizers and templates. Learners at lower levels of proficiency may benefit from structured presentation formats that allow them to focus on researching topics, writing scripts, and speaking clearly. Create graphic organizers for drafts and storyboards, sentence frames for scripts, and templates for digital formats that learners can easily access by “plugging-in” their ideas.
Curate research sources. Learners at all proficiency levels will require content in a form they can understand. Curating a list of sources that you know will contain information in language English learners can decipher will allow them to focus on the task. Consider providing video content for English learners at lower levels of proficiency. Consider partnering with English learners’ specialists for sources designed for speakers of other languages. See the "Research and Bilingual Content Sources for English Learners" resource in the resource section below for more information.
Provide feedback in a language learners can understand. Use simple sentence structure and use comprehensible vocabulary. Ask questions that are specific and efficient. When learners are engaged in peer feedback, use simple lists or familiar rubrics. See the "Teacher Tool: Leveled Question Stems" resource in the resource section below for more information.
Ensure learners understand evaluation rubrics. Preview and orient learners to rubrics in advance of the assignment. Consider simplifying language within rubrics. See the "WIDA Can Do Descriptors" in the resource section below.
Give direct feedback on language use. Conveying knowledge and information, and interacting socially and academically with teachers and peers are important parts of mastering any skill for English learners. Use learner-friendly rubrics to evaluate language skills used to show content mastery. See the "A Strategy for Giving Corrective Feedback to ELLs" and "ELD Student-Friendly Rubrics" resources in the resource section below for more information.
Students can collaborate using piktochart to present their research or knowledge to an authentic audience.
Adobe pages is a tool that allows students and teachers to create digital graphics in a website form.
Students can collaborate using adobe pages to present their research or knowledge to an authentic audience.
Explore the "Putting the Pieces Together: Creating an Infographic" lesson by 12th grade ELA BetterLesson Master Teacher Richard Jones to see how he supports his students to develop infographics.
Explore the "Is it the End of Humanity Infographic" lesson by 8th grade Science BetterLesson Master Teacher Lori Knasiak to see how her students create infographics.
Explore the "Storyboarding for Narrative Writing" lesson by 8th grade ELA BetterLesson Master Teacher Toby Murphy to see how he supports his students to develop storyboards.
Explore the "What's Up with All that Jazz" lesson by 4th grade ELA BetterLesson Master Teacher Monica Brown to see how she supports her students to write and record songs to demonstrate their understanding.