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Engaging Learners through Digital Storytelling: 40+ Resources & Tips

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I develop many free online courses for teachers, such as Digital Storytelling for Young Learners. In 5 weeks, 250+ participants and a dream team of moderators (Esra Girgin, Barbara Sakamoto, Özge Karaoglu, Jennifer Verschoor, David Dodgson, and Michelle Worgan) shared imaginative stories in our online class portfolio. You might think these teachers are tech savvy, but as it turns out 62% of the teachers who took our survey said they had never conducted a digital storytelling activity. Our language learners have powerful stories to share and often share personal stories in blogs, Facebook, Youtube, or Twitter. Through digital storytelling we motivate our learners to apply, contextualize, visualize, and personalize the language they learn. There are 100s of free digital tools and websites to inspire your learners to create extremely imaginative stories and share them with a global audience. I hope the following tips and resources will help you along your journey towards integrating digital storytelling into your curriculum.

Tips

  • Ease your students into sharing information about themselves by doing a fun icebreaker activity such as Show and Tell with a Cell! Simply have your students take out their cellphones, share one of their favorite pictures and tell the story behind the picture. If they can’t use their cellphones then have them come into class with a picture.
  • Teach your students about creative commons. Below I share some of my favorite websites.
  • For collaborative projects and more detailed stories, have students plot ideas in a storyboard. Kevin Hodgson has some fantastic storyboarding worksheets here!
  • I like to break my students into small groups of 4 and while they are creating their characters and drawing the scenes I elicit vocabulary from them. For example, I will ask questions such as, “Is this a boy or a girl?” “Is it hot or cold?” “Does she have blond or brown hair?”

Recommended Webtools

Literally, 100s of webtools and apps have been shared, but I would like to share with you the ones I believe are the easiest to use. We are listing these in a livebinder, which is being constantly updated.

Creaza- One of my favorite sites where you can create comics, make movies, edit audio, and more! Embed in a blog or wiki.
GoAnimate- Choose from various characters, type in the dialogue, choose your background scene, and create a free fun movie.
DVolver- Choose from various characters, type in the dialogue, choose your background scene, and create a free fun movie.
ZimmerTwins- Choose from various characters, type in the dialogue, choose your background scene, and create a free fun movie.
PicLits- Drag and drop words unto a beautiful image.
Bubblr- create your comic strip with Flickr pictures and add bubbles to tell your story!
Comicmaster – Cool graphic novel creator.
Stripgenerator – You don’t have to register in order to create a comic.
Make Beliefs Comix – Two, three and four panel comics that you can create in multiple languages.
Comic Strip Generator – You can upload photos or use web images in addition to their library of ready-to-use images
ToonDoo – the site allows students to share their comics, comment on other comics, and even save and edit a copy of a comic
OneTrueMedia – Mix your photos and pictures with text and animations.
Blabberize – Make your pictures talk
VoiceThread for Educators-Interactive way to present stories and have parents and other students comment on the stories. Several options. Embed in a blog or wiki.
Storybird-Students create beautiful stories by choosing beautiful art and adding the words. Embed in a blog or wiki.
Voxopop – Construct audio stories.
5cardflicker – Tell your stories through flicker photos.
Zooburst – 3D pop up story creator.
Scholastic story starter – Start your story randomly.
Thestorystarter – Start your story randomly.
LittleBirdTales – Upload your picture, record your voice to tell your stories.
Animoto- Upload up images, choose a soundtrack from the library (many nice holiday tunes to choose from, and click a button to make a free short video online and on your mobile device.

Creative Commons Music and Images

Musicshake – Create copyright free music for your video.
Compfight – Search Flickr photos for your videos.
MorgueFile – Find free pictures for your videos.
Free Music Archive, and Jamendo, and Royalty Free Music are all great places for free creative commons music!
SoundBible - FreeSound – Free sound effects.

Digital Storytelling Apps

YakIt for Kids & Chatterpix for Kids allow students to add a mouth and voice to images.
Splice- Best video editing app for the iPhone, iPod, and iPad that is free. Add audio, transitions, images, and more.
Book Creator is the easiest way to create a book on your iOS or Android tablet.
Sock Puppets- If you enjoy playing with sock puppets, you’ll love this app that allows students to create a sock puppet show. Choose the sock puppet characters, personalize the characters by adding your voice, select the scene and props, and record a video. Send this by email or upload to Youtube. Watch this great example. Available on the iPad and iPod.
Puppet Pals- Choose the western characters, personalize the characters by adding your voice, select the scene and props, and record a video. Send this by email or upload to Youtube. Available on the iPad and iPod.
StoryKit- Create an electronic storybook by drawing on the screen, uploading images, recording sound effects and voice, laying out the elements of the story (text boxes, images, paint, and sound clips) freely by dragging them or pinching to resize, reordering pages, and uploading to the StoryKit web server. Email a link to the story. The application includes four public domain children’s books to rewrite and rearrange into a new story. Available on the iPad and iPod.
Animoto- Upload up to 10 images, choose a soundtrack from the library (many nice holiday tunes to choose from, and click a button to make a 30-second video. Sync your videos with your Animoto.com account, download videos for offline viewing, and make longer ones with an All-Access Pass. Available on the iPad and iPod and Android.
Capzles App- Upload images, audio, video, text, and documents to create a multimedia timeline of events. Available on i-devices.
Voicethread- upload an image, text, or video. Invite others to comment through doodling, text, video, or audio. Available on i-devices.

Free ebooks

Digital Storytelling Tools by Silvia Tolisano
Effective Mobile Learning: 50+ Tips & Resources by Shelly Terrell
Digital Storytelling in the Classroom by MicroSoft

Check out my Pinterests with these bookmarks and more!

Challenge:

Try a digital storytelling activity with your students this year.

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25 Comments

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  • February 16, 2012 - 12:18 | Permalink

    Computers and tablets are only assistants and a good teacher’s will always be needed.
    However social networks such as facebook and YouTube as well as great resources including Wikipedia and Wolfram-Alpha are here to stay so that educators must use them in the teaching process.

    Some time ago YouTube moved a lot of their educational content to a separate domain giving people access a broad set of educational videos.

    However, some complaints include the variety of the content found there as well as the need for schools to register on YouTube under the academic section in order to show their videos, leaving out many academics, professionals and students not formally associated with mainstream schools which contribute with great videos.

    Many academics are posting great educational videos and materials online. The only problem is to sort the good ones from the rest and present them in an organized manner.

    This effort is being done by: http://utubersity.com which presents the best educational videos available on YouTube in an organized, easy to find way to watch and learn. It also links the videos to related content in Wikipedia or associated websites.

    They are classified and tagged in a way that enables people to find these materials more easily and efficiently and not waste time browsing through pages of irrelevant search results.

    The website also enhances the experience using other means such as recommending related videos, Wikipedia content and so on. There’s also a Spanish version called http://utubersidad.com

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  • Lynn
    October 21, 2012 - 19:03 | Permalink

    I agree with Luis that there is no replacement for a great teacher, but I like the many tools you’ve shared in this post for teachers to use. It has given me several great ideas and I will share this post with others. Thanks for compiling the list!

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  • Flavius
    June 30, 2013 - 10:05 | Permalink

    Include this source on your list:

    http://www.royaltyfreemusicweb.com

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