Digital StoryTelling

Digital Storytelling for Educators

Digital Storytelling uses digital media to create media-rich stories to tell, to share, and to preserve. Digital stories derive their power through weaving images, music, narrative and voice together, thereby giving deep dimension and vivid color to characters, situations, and insights............Digital Storytelling Association
Digital storytelling challenges students to take their written ideas and translate them into a visual medium.
*All documents on this site are PDFs (Download free Acrobat reader if needed).

Digital storytelling is a concept, not an application.
It's not about the technology. It is about telling your story.

What is a Digital Story?
Digital storytelling is the combining of the ancient art of oral storytelling and the modern multimedia tools to deliver tales using images, sound, music, and voice. It brings out the artist, the storyteller, the techie, and the writer in your students.
Basically, the stories the students already have written on paper or orally tell are transformed into digital format through the use of computers and digital cameras.

Why Digital Storytelling?
Because we teach digital students.
"Digital kids need learning to be relevant, meaningful, and applicable now." Marco Antonio Torres

To enhance your lesson plans.
To accelerate learning.
To Allow for more creativity from your students.
To cover multiple intelligences.
To have more fun!!!

Why Integrate Video Production in the Classroom?

Good Digital Stories:

Are personal: The narrator is encouraged to personalize the tale, making it clear how the people or events in the story impacted his or her life.
Begin with the story/script: Creators are expected to narrow in on their story, writing and even recording their script before they ever begin digitizing images, importing sound effects, or using video editing tools. Jason Ohler, points out that having students "create and tell stories before they [get] to use all the empowering and distracting technology at their disposal" is an important way to avoid "enabling the technophile at the expense of the story teller in...students."
Are concise: Typically, a digital story will run from two to five minutes in length. The goal is to narrow the story down to a single "nugget" — one central idea or message.
Use readily-available source materials:  Many digital stories rely heavily on photographs, hand-drawn illustrations, and other scanned-in images, along with transition effects, to accompany the recorded narrative.
Include universal story elements: Good stories — digital or not — include essential elements such as conflict, transformation, and closure. Furthermore, they are told in a way that allows the audience to, as Ohler puts it, "identify with them, remember them, and be changed by them."
Involve collaboration: Participants in the group project give and receive feedback on their stories and scripts.
adapted from Wikibooks
Skills that Creating a Digital Story Covers:

Writing Skills Speaking and Visual Skills
  • Construct a story
  • Sequence and Summarize
  • Edit and Proofread
  • Use descriptive words
  • Use words to create imagery
  • Show clear expression and enunciation
  • Learn projecting and phrasing
  • Communicate ideas
  • Engage the audience
  • Match images with voice
  • Match music with script
Technical Skills Personal Development Skills
  • Implement DS software
  • Use a digital camera/video camera
  • Scan pictures and objects
  • Record voice and music
  • Import Internet Images
  • Enhance self-confidence
  • Build community
  • Establish observational skills
  • Develop social skills
Dyck, Brenda. "Digital Storytelling: Igniting New Life into Writing." Classroom Connect Newsletter (2005): 16-17.
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The Center for Digital Storytelling has defined seven elements for creating effective and interesting multimedia stories.
  • A Point (of View)
  • The Power of The Soundtrack
  • Economy
  • Pacing
  • A Dramatic Question
  • Emotional Content
  • The Gift of Your Voice

Steps for Creating a Digital Story: (from Marco Torres) (Marco Torres Interview) (Documentary about his Students)

Follow the 4 P's
1.  Planning - very critical! Story boards, Story Map, Script Writing. The teacher can see the student's process and progress.
2.  Production - students take and collect pictures, use the software to put it all together.
3.  Presentation - allows the students to create projects for an authentic audience. -Start your own Film Festival!
4.  Assessment (assessing with a silent P) - students use rubrics to determine what does it mean to have a good project. Rubistar is an excellent resource to develop rubrics for free (must register).

Marco has changed his 4P's to 5 P's since the filming of the above video. There is now Plan, Produce, Post, Present, and (P)Feedback.


Story Map
Story maps should be used to plan out the story before any writing or moviemaking is done. This is a great tool to use no matter what kind of story is being planned, digital or not.
 Storyboards should be used when planning out your movie. Storyboards allow the director to organize a scene by scene look at their movie. To the right are several different types of storyboards.
All About Storyboarding

Storyboard Pro software - The software is free to download. Has good camera shot tips. Mac and PC versions as well as video tutorials (advanced tips require a subscription to Atomic Learning).
May be a bit much for younger students.

Student Planning Sheet- good reference for students to keep track of due date, project members, and general plan of movie.
Use concept map/brainstorming software like Inspiration or Kidspiration to plan out scenes (if you have purchased it) or the free CMap.
An easy way for students to do a script is to fold a regular sheet of notebook paper in half length wise (hot dog). On the left half of the sheet write their script. The right hand side can be used for notes or sketches of the scene.

A full left side of the paper equates roughly to one minute of spoken voice in the story.

Basically any program where photo and/or movies can be edited and have sound and music added. Even a combination of programs (create slides in PPT, save them as jpgs or gifs, and import them into Photo Story; create your Photo Story movie and add effects, sounds, titles in Movie Maker).
Windows Movie Maker 2 - handout (downloads free from Microsoft when Windows XP service pack 2 is downloaded)
Windows Photo Story 3 - handout (free download from Microsoft,  )
Stop Motion Animator - (Free download) Use a web cam to capture the pictures, save as an avi file, and then use a Movie editor (like Movie Maker or iMovie) to add background voices and music.

VideoSpin from Pinnacle - free to use (but they would love it if you bought their premium version) and a hefty download (148mb).
For Photo Editing
There is probably going to be a need to do some simple photo editing to some of your pictures you add to your digital story. So here are a couple of free options. It isn't PhotoShop or The GIMP, but for free and simple you can't beat these (actually GIMP is free but learning curve like PhotoShop). A Chart covering 15 online photo editors
IrfanView (Free)
Mainly a viewer that will also do some effects, crop, resize, and convert digital picts to other formats. A good batch converter as well.
Picasa (Free) Google's software that will organize your pictures, crop, resize, fix color, add effects...
Paint.NET (Free) Intended as a replacement for Windows paint, it has become a free rival to other photo editors. Windows only
PhotoScape (Free) Download the software to use the viewer, converter, editor, gif animator, collage templates, and batch editor (the C/Net download seemed to work better for me so I am linking there instead of ).
Picnik (Free and online) Good program to do simple edits of your pictures online. No software to download. Just upload your picture, make your edits, and save back to your desktop. video tutorial on using Picnik by Janetta Garton
befunky (Free and online) Fun site for cartoonizing your pictures.
FotoFlexr (Free and online) Can sign up for a free account or just use the editor.
Splashup (Free and online) Good program to do simple edits of your pictures online. No software to download. Just upload your picture, make your edits, and save back to your desktop.
Phixr (Free and online) Another online program.
Photoshop Express (Free and online) Brand new online editor. However, you do have to create an account and sign in, but you get 2 GB of storage space. So this might not be the best one to use with kids since they could potentially see something in the galleries section they should not see.

More on Photo Story
Photo Story does not have a "make a color background for text" like Movie Maker and other programs do. So I have created some gifs that you can download to your computer and import into your Photo Story to put text on. (gif files, right click on the file and choose Save Target as...)

black | blue | dark blue | green | pink | red | white | yellow |

To create your own color background in Paint
Creating Slides in PowerPoint to use in Photo Story (handout)
  1. Create a title slide with text or Word Art or other slides with text and/or clipart/Word Art.
  2. Click on File from the Menu bar and select Save As...
  3. In the Save as Type box choose a picture format (GIF or JPEG should be fine).
  4. Click the Save button (make sure to save in your folder or somewhere you can find it). You will be given a choice of exporting every slide into a picture format or just the current slide.
  5. Finally, in Photo Story, use the Import Pictures button to bring the PPT pictures you created into your Photo Story project.
Other Photo Story Resources
  1. Mark Coffman's WindowPhotoStory.Com - You can also download his TweakPS program that will globally change slide duration, remove transitions and motion, and randomly add transitions and motion to slides.
  2. Papa John's Movie Maker 2 site - Mostly about MM2, but does have a great section on Photo Story as well as sections on using both programs for the same project.
  3. What is a Photo Story - Flash videos that show many of the steps to creating a video in Photo Story.
  4. David Jake's Photo Story video tutorials
Free Picture and Audio Resources - free for educational use, copy and paste bibliography for pictures
Pics4learning - free for educational use, copy and paste bibliography for pictures
Public Domain Photos - free for educational use
DiscoverySchool's Clip Art Gallery

DK Clip art - search for wave, au, and aiff sound files.
(Some school web filters may block the page the sound is found on therefore preventing download.)

Fun Video about the origins of Pan and Zoom like Photo Story uses -new

Kodak Lesson Plans - Lesson plans for all curriculum areas for integrating a camera in your classroom.

Ken - great articles about using cameras
The Digital Camera in Education - about using cameras in the classroom

Don't have a digital camera?
Scan in Student drawings or photos with a scanner.
Buy a disposable camera and have it developed to a CD.
Use a Web Cam.
Use a Cell Phone camera.
Save pictures from the Internet. Don't forget to check the copyright! And search for Large pictures so your movie is not pixilated.

Tricks of the Trade - new Great site about creating political ad videos and how music, sound effects, graphics, and voice overs can really make a difference to your video.

Digital Directors Guild - great matrix of online examples across the curriculum areas
The Bank Robbery
the iCAN film festival of the San Fernando Education Technology Team (this is a group Marco Torres is a part of)
(Make sure to watch the video on iCan2 called "Teachers")
Wichita State University Clay Animation Summer Camp
Mabry Middle School 2006 Film Festival (scroll to the bottom for examples)
How the Macaw Got its Colors -new
My First Day of School -
University of Houston student examples -new
Dr. Geary's Book Trailers -new
Next Vista for Learning Videos - new - Videos that Teach over a wide assortment of topics (many math videos). Your school's web filter may block the video from playing but there is a Download link.
Good example of panning using a single picture

Types of Digital Stories:
Personal Narrative
A work of fiction
A Book review, A Bookfomercial, A Book Trailer or a Book Talk
A documentary
A Persuasive/Public Service Announcement
Clay or Stop Animation
A new ending to a well-known story
The True Story behind the story (in the fashion of The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!)
Teach a Unit of Instruction
An Interview
A Poem - Use this Fill in the Blank poem creator, then create your digital story based on the poem.
A Photo Field Trip
A Rebus Story
A Class (or individual) Show and Tell
Short 30 second videos demonstrating the definition to spelling/ACT/SAT Words (examples (mostly YouTube vids, sorry!)
"Priceless" Commercials (like the MasterCard ads)
Riddles - add one picture multiple times, zoom into different parts of the pictures and give clues about the item (or event) for each zoom in. Then show the answer at the end.
To introduce digital storytelling or a program like Photo Story have students create an "All about Me" or a "Life around Here" (their city, their home, school...) video

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