Monday, September 26, 2011

Digital Stories as Ways into Writing




A Digital Story As A Way Into Writing
By Sara Codair

The readings from the past few weeks have me feeling like I have been tossed into a textual war on how digital text effects the next generation of readers and writers. I have read some saying it is the end of literacy as we know it, but others think it is a powerful class room tool. The idea of the digital story would have those who think digital equals doom running for the hills, but I believe the digital story has a place in a writing classroom. Brining the Outside In, Sara B. Kadjer shows us how a digital story can inspire students that government testing has labeled as poor readers and writers to do something amazing. 
When Kadjer had her students make a digital story, she used a sort of cliché essay prompt of similar to, write about a significant event that changed you,  to have the students create a “digital story.” Their digital story was not as complicated or interactive as the ones that Carolyn Miller described in Digital Storytelling : A Creator's Guide to Interactive Entertainment (http://site.ebrary.com/lib/umass/Doc?id=10382863&ppg=35). They did not let the audience member control the direction of the story or do a lot of interaction, but it was still a story told through digital media with pictures, transitions and sound. More importantly, it got the students to do something that they could not while sitting in at an MCAS test with a #2 pencil and exam booklet. It got them to think critically about an event in their life and create a story about it.
I am not saying that digital stories should replace writing because they are easier for a certain statistic of students to use than a pen and paper, but they can be a more productive way to reach that student who is being left behind by no child left behind. By making this cliché essay prompt into a digital story, Kadjer led her students to discover the thought process that should have gone on while they were writing an essay. Even the students who claimed to be bad writers and readers were successful at telling a story through images and music.

Kadjer’s chapter ended with the story being complete, but in order for it to the serve the purpose I want it to serve, the next step would be for the students to name the moves they made while working on the project. In order for this to happen, the instructor  would have to go back and have the students write down the steps they did, or have them keep a journal or a blog where they would try to record the process as they went through it. Once they students had a record of their process, the teacher would have to work with the students to name the different steps they went through. A process that is not that different from writing. Pick an event to tell a story about, and decide what steps or moments you will use to portray it. In the case of Kadjer’s class, the students had to pick different photo’s to represents different pieces of the story.
It would also be necessary for the teacher to  ask the students questions, such as: How did you decide to tell this story? How did you choose what photo’s to use in the slide show? What do you want to viewer to learn from this? What questions do you think they will ask?  Ask them questions about it and see where it lines up with steps in the writing process. It would be easy to get to the outline, because they probably already have some form of one, and the hardest part might be transferring the images to paragraphs, but it can be done, especially if there is a verbal stage in between. The student could tell the teacher about the photo and what it means. The students voice could be digitally recorded, or record with pen and paper. However, if it is audio, the teacher could have the student transcribe their own spoken words. That could turn into a draft. From there, the teacher could work in more traditional way getting the student to turn the draft into a paper with peer review workshops, written feedback,  and if time allowed, one on one meetings.

It would be an interesting and productive idea to carry Kadjer’s idea to the next step. A  way to use the new digital technology and media to teach the old one. They are both means of telling stories after all. Story telling has been around as long as humans could remember and communicate with each other (link to miller). They was the stories are told have changed but the stories themselves only seem to shift back and forth to different versions of the same things. The media will use to the tell the stories, whether it be our bodies, images text, video or artificial intelligence will change. But the characteristics of the stories seem to remain the same. One method can be used to teach the other if, after all, they are two ways of serving the same purpose.

There is a lot more I could say on this topic, but this blog is supposed to be brief, so I will stop here. I’ll look forward to seeing what you all have to say in response to my idea!

Here are some questions and my own sort of “digital story” made up of still images.

Do you think the “digital story” can be a doorway to writing in a classroom? What would you add to my lesson idea? What would you change?

Miller talks about how similar digital story telling is to ancient methods of storytelling. Do you agree with here? Do we keep reusing the same stories and methods of storytelling? How does you answer effect your ability to use one method to teach another?

13 comments:

  1. Based on our readings and my own experience, I feel that digital literacy will eclipse traditional literacy in the next 20 years. I say this not because technology has become overly accessible, but because digital literacy is becoming the literacy of wealth, class, and power. In order for future students to obtain jobs and communicate, they will need to know the basic elements of digital communication. I believe this will go beyond simply sending emails and typing skills. Visual conferencing already dominates much of today’s business world, so why wouldn’t these skills apply to any future job involving online communication? The opportunity for students to expand their understanding of communication seems unparalleled when we open up to the idea of digital literacy. It empowers students and teachers to challenge their own identities and “problematize” their situation as Freire did for his students. Asking the right questions about digital literacy certainly couldn’t hurt the education of tomorrow’s students.

    As for Miller, storytelling is intrinsically human. How could we not reuse the ancient methods of narrative on the technological frontier? I think in many ways we’re coming full circle with the way we use digital technology. If our economic and political future depend on digital literacy, than we’re only being human by trying to survive. Even now, future high stakes testing will take place online. In five years, students will be required to take these tests via computer. I hope that digital literacy will someday even change the SATs. I would be more than willing to work out any negative effects along the way if that were the case. The SATs are a perfect example of an archaic sorting mechanism that continues to penalize students with strengths outside of typical language literacy. Imagine an SAT exam that utilizes digital literacy in addition to traditional components. Think of what that might do to the bell curve!

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  2. Sara, I really liked the suggestions you made for taking Kajder's lesson to the next level. I think that digital storytelling is a great way to get students interested in the storytelling and writing process. Kajder writes:
    Culturally, there is an argument that holds that the competition for reading as a source of stories has become more intense. It proposes that students are captivated by the Internet, television, film, and video games instead of reading. I believe that these media support and promote reading. These students are intensely literate but not in the ways that might allow them to score well on tests. (15)

    I think that the extended lesson plan that you suggest for this project is exactly what is necessary, not only to help students score well on tests, but also to enable students to read, write, think and reason effectively. The type of metacognition that would be required to complete your lesson plan is exactly what students need to be practicing. The ability to use technology is so important; Jay as you say, “digital literacy is becoming the literacy of wealth, class, and power” and students must be able to navigate these fields in order to be successful. However, the writing-across-the-curriculum approach that Sara calls for is proven to be effective, not only in raising test scores, but in improving literacy across the board—the type of literacy that is necessary to be successful in academia. The complete turn around of Brockton High School is a testament to the effectiveness of this type of curriculum. (See links below)

    This is why I think Kajder’s approach is so innovative, because she finds a way to reach readers and writers who are not “traditional” and she draws them in. The approach that Kajder takes allows students with all learning styles to take part in a project, and the end result is that they get to see their own work published. I think this type of project is the first step toward engaging students; I think once the students see that their work is valued they will want to continue to produce. This is where the follow up lesson plans would come in. The students have to see results first, or they might fall back on the same type of resistant behaviors that they displayed before. I like the idea of having the students record why they made the choices they did or even keeping a blog is a great way to continue to integrate new technologies with “traditional” forms of literacy.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/28/education/28school.html?pagewanted=all

    http://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/uncategorized/brockton-high-proves-that-big-schools-can-be-good-schools/6959/

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  3. I want to echo what's already been said, particularly by Sam, about how you (Sara) offer a great way to bridge new and old technologies with attention to metacognition, or thinking about thinking. Generally speaking I find Kajder's approach to be refreshing because it embraces and harnesses emergent tools for enhancing literate practices. As a corollary, I think the complexity of 21st literacy demands that we make clear distinctions between different kinds of reading. When Kajder says, "I believe these [new] media support and promote reading," I think she needs to be more specific. Each medium facilitates or emphasizes different kinds of reading. The text message encourages brevity and speed while the blog encourages discursive writing and contemplation. It's important that we teach students HOW to negotiate between each medium and adjust their reading practices appropriately. Yes, our tests need to adapt (this is a much larger, more problematic issue), but more so we need teachers to lead the charge in making these changes more visible. And we cannot neglect print-based literacy. We are still entrenched in print culture and the virtues of "deep" reading still need to be embraced and taught.

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  4. One of the things I like about Kadjer’s exercise is it gets students to realize that they have a story to tell. I feel students often have trouble writing because “they don’t know what to say”, but when you begin students with what they already know, you establish them as credible sources and the words start flowing. I work as a tutor for Academic Services and one of the students I’m working with has to write a paper on her ability to overcome adversity. We started by planning an outline and then I wanted her to begin writing one of the sections. I watched her as she wrote a few sentences and then crossed them out, stared at the page, wrote and then crossed out again. I stopped her and told her to forget about the paper, and simply to write me about the first time she realized there was a difference between her and the other students in her class. She immediately began writing and soon filled an entire page.
    Many students struggle with the ability to begin their papers. I often hear students complain that they do not know how or where to start. I think the reason behind this is we as teachers do not always provide them with a starting point. What do we teach? Form, citation, grammar, paragraphs, topic sentences. And somehow based on this instruction words and ideas are magically supposed to follow.
    Students are never going to become good writers unless they practice. Unfortunately students have a fear of writing, they assume they are not good at it and so they never try. This is understandable, considering no one likes doing things they are not good at. We become uncomfortable, feel self-conscious and even embarrassed.
    This is where incorporating technology becomes crucial in the classroom. Students need to get into the practice of writing through a subject that they feel comfortable with and confident in. As much as I may enjoy writing a paper on the theme of childishness in A Raisin in the Sun, my students do not. Therefore, I need to meet them where they are. Kadjer’s digital storytelling exercise is one way to accomplish this. For some students the project is using a medium they are familiar with (comfortable), and for all students it is asking them to write about a subject they know best(confidence). Even though writing is a component of this project it is not all of it. Students are encouraged to brainstorm in writing, but ultimately they are encouraged to express themselves through images, which is a form of communication.
    The next step is to do exactly what you say, Sara, to get students thinking about what they did in this project and finding ways of utilizing those tools in future writing projects. I would love to be able to record what my students have said about their projects and transcribe their words on paper. I feel this would only build confidence as students begin to realize what they are capable of.

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  5. Hi Sara!
    I have to say that you hit the nail on the head when you claimed, in regard to taking the next step with Kadjer’s digital storytelling project, having “students name the moves they made while working on the project.” Any time these students (any students, really) can somehow make their learning explicit, they will be moving ahead into metacognitive realm of learning, thinking and knowing. How powerful would it be, to piggy-back on your suggestions for next steps, to have students teach other students about the putting-together of the digital stories? I immediately think about the student in Kadjer’s first chapter who said, “I had to read the stuff in the car manual last night because one of the lights got busted. But, I know that stuff doesn’t count” (5). Imagine if this student was asked, first, to put together the digital story of his love of cars, or even of fixing things, and then was asked to teach another car-lover or aspiring mechanic how he went about fixing the problems and about how he put together the digital story. Before long, two teenagers could have their own “Click and Clack”-like youtube channel – see: http://www.cartalk.com/. Getting students’ buy-in here is so important. They need to attach their own meaning to the topics at hand before a task can become genuine.

    And as I think about the scenario I just described, it reminds me of something I picked up on in Bolter’s Chapter 9. In discussing how the utilization of writing has an affect on reading he mentions how “Because the reader who can write may also take elements out of their original context for his own purposes, writing becomes a tool for reorganizing, for classifying, for developing and maintaining categories” (192). The student who now reads and who can process and follow the directions of a car manual may also become the employee who writes the procedure manual at our local Valvoline Instant Oil Change. Creating a real-life link for students is, I believe, a key component in getting them to engage in the classroom. Not the only component, of course, but one of them. Just this morning (Tuesday), I was explaining the importance of drafting and editing as they might relate to, perhaps, business cover letters and proposals to the Business majors in my Freshman Composition class. If I don’t make the career-link explicit, they’d leave my classroom every Tuesday and Thursday morning thinking, “Why do I have to take an English class?”

    In highschool I took two years of a portfolio-oriented English class called “Writing Center.” Students in “Writing Center” had free range of book choices and paper topics…this freedom allowed me to explore, for the first time in my life (sadly, at 17), books that I wanted to read. The real-life connection of reading and writing, for me, was formed. From then on, I was more willing and ready to participate in class discussions. The experience fostered not only confidence, but self-awareness and self-actualization (something we attempt to foster with our students); previous to this class I was like Kadjer’s student Rochelle (29) who ended up writing more and adding to conversations after having done little more than inhabit her seat. Because I lived through an experience much like the ones described in Bringing the Outside In, and from what I’ve read thus far about digital storytelling, I agree with you, they do have a place in the classroom (and I can’t wait to experiment with creating an assignment)!

    Bolter, Jay David. Writing Space: Computers, Hypertext and the Remediation of Print. New York: Routeledge, 2001. Print.

    Kajder, Sara B. Bringing the Outside In. Portland, ME: Stenhouse, 2006. Print

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  6. Sara, I really like how you highlight the difference between Kajder and Miller’s use of digital stories in the classroom. Not that I want to raise a question about which author’s thinking about stories seems better, but I think that Kajder’s way of addressing digital stories is more closely aligned with more traditional writing practices, which is highlighted in her use of literary terms such as point of view and voice to describe her stories. While these elements are important to stories and must be recognized and used in order to make a story seem like a coherent piece, they call for a single answer as opposed to options, which provide many answers. In Bringing the Outside In, Kajder explains what a good story must do, writing, “Good stories take us somewhere. Every part of the story points towards a “point” which evokes some response from the audience” (17). This language and her use of the word “point” suggest that there is one single path that has been dictated by the writer of the story. Her language is similar to that of the MCAS prompts that usually start off with explain a character, identify a situation, and explain its significance. All of these components are statements that point in one direction and while this may be good for essay writing, it may not be the best way to address stories in the classroom, especially since people have varied reactions with stories and information to bring to them.

    On the other hand, Miller’s use of digital stories embraces new electronic technologies, fostering the choice and collaboration that is associated with them. Sara, I like how you bring up the importance of thinking about thinking, and I see this as an important part of any writing process. Too many times students think that there is one correct answer or way to approach an essay, focusing more on the right way and less on the process of how they got there. Choice allows for differences in writing, letting individual voices emerge. I just finished doing a short story unit with my freshman English classes and as a final activity I had students rewrite one of the short stories we read in groups. Before completing this assignment, they had to pick out elements from the story they would like to change, explain how they would make those changes, and state what would happen to the reading of the story if items were changed. Many of my students had a hard time with this assignment at first because they couldn’t see themselves as being able to change an already published text or to consider how a different ending or character could affect the story. I think that they were more in the traditional way of thought, or the one more closely aligned with Kajder’s thinking. I really wish I read the Miller reading earlier and could have included some of the digital storytelling philosophies, having students even consider why they chose to change certain items, making them be extra conscious of their choices. Once the students shared their short stories, it was clear that different voices emerged in the process and some students went far away from the original. What was most surprising is how students manipulated certain events, incorporating their own interests in the stories, but still trying to make them accessible to a vast audience.

    With all this being said, I think it’s important to have the traditional, write a story on paper method, and the newer strategy, using digital technologies to tell digital stories. Both methods appeal to different learning styles and also assess different information. The traditional method can show that a student can focus in on a point and bring the reader to it, helping students to be better persuasive writers. On the other hand, digital stories allow students to experiment and analyze different technologies, while strengthening their ability to collaborate and consider different sides of a situation.

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  7. We almost need to value projects like Kadjer’s digital story telling for how it contributes to our coming to terms with new literacies as much as it can solidify “the old ones.” This is particularly true considering how Bolter describes the effects of new media on our sense of self as writers: these days we are mind, body, ink, and hyperlink. And I say it’s time to really plug in.

    Perhaps we’ve reached the point when we need to rationalize this type of work as engaging in literacy activities our students will be required to navigate on their own as workers, writers, or whatever it is they go on to be. It’s not just about getting them comfortable enough, giving them something fun enough to do in order to write a decent humanities essay--video essay? It’s also about engaging them with literacy work they are asked to do, and do do, when they experience the world.

    Technology is synthesizing itself into the English classroom. Classroom planning, course documentation, dissemination of course materials, assignments, among other otherwise analog work has been digitized. But it is clear we are also accounting for the effects of new media in our classrooms; particularly how images are an integral part of this new media experience. Of course, looking at art, pictures, and film clips is not new in the classroom. But it was uncommon work compared to what we did with information on paper. In many of our English classrooms, we are beginning to take critical, dialectic work with images very seriously. We shouldn't we ask students to "write" in the ways we ask them to "read." Why can't students write with images as long as they do the critical work needed for an academic project?

    The reality is we not only assign students to view and study information on web pages, including the graphics they embed, we ask them to report back on web sites and on online discussion boards. We are engaging them with new technology when we pass along information to them, and increasingly as they pass information back to us. But this is the work we need to be doing, and we need to understand that we do it for more/different reasons than we did a decade ago.

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  8. Good looks, Sara! I dig the column.

    The most interesting point that both you and Kadjer bring up is the notion of literacy, and this resculpting (or is it remediating?) of its definition. Even for the most liberal, anarchic of us out there (Hi!, my name is Ian and I want to destroy your children’s concept of grammar), the notion of a text superseding the written page is still somewhat new. Technology waits for no one!, though. And as visual media balloons around us, and stories take on new forms, the concept of both text and literacy has to be reassessed.

    To further echo your point, the children that Kadjer discusses are considered “illiterate” or have never considered themselves good “readers” or “writers”, and yet they don’t realize they perform both actions on a daily basis. Divorced from the written page. Outside of the tome, book, or novel. In my more rambunctious moments you can probably find me making a claim that I’m not certain I believe in.

    And it’s this.

    Far be it from this up and coming generation being the death of literacy, they may be the most literate generation yet. I think I may think this. But I’m not certain that I’m certain of it. How about that for convoluted nonsense! But do you know what I mean?

    Kids are interacting with texts in far heavier ways that I was at their age. The Internet is flooded with visual images that can be considered texts. Movies. Television shows. Posters. Advertisements. These are things that they “read” on a daily basis. They interpret and make meaning out of. It’s not the typical conception of “text” or “reading”, but so the dinosaurs must make way for new definitions.

    Right? Sure.

    Even if you reject that notion, I would still argue that kids-children-whatever you want to call them these days are interacting with what we would consider typical text in an heavy manner. They are sending text messages. They’re reading Facebook posts. They’re skimming web pages. The amount of words they’re consuming on a daily basis is astronomical compared to what I probably did when I was there age. Okay, outside of books because frankly and obviously I’m a literature dork.

    The problem is the antiquated notion of literacy and text that the children simultaneously thwart and are subjugated by. Their lives are denials unto themselves of the withering notion of literacy. Yet they’re told continuously in classrooms that they are doing it wrong. Spelling it wrong. Not reading correct. Et cetera. Et cetera.

    So digital story telling? It’s excellent. It’s excellent for two reasons. I’m certain there’s more but these are the two I’m pulling out of my pockets at this late portion of the evening.

    Firstly it’s excellent because it is the road all narratives seem to be governing towards. I won’t condemn the novel or book as a Dead Form Walking, but certainly all of these media are converging and creating something new. What exactly? I have no idea. That’s half the fun of it. Something though. And by getting these students to interact with the form, they’re getting a head start on a new medium.

    Secondly and perhaps even more importantly, it’s empowering these students’ by getting them to realize they are literate. They can read. It is just that their tools are used in different avenues than what is demanded out of them in a classroom. That’s where I absolutely agree with you. This new medium can be used to get the students invested, so they can be taught the older notions of literacy.

    It’s a tight rope. To deny the students their literacy is to deny a huge part of them. To deny them the opportunity to learn the “codes” that will help them succeed in life may not be as negative to their psyche, but it is preventing them all the chances they deserve and may otherwise have. That’s why, as you point out, digital storytelling may very well be the bridge that crosses the chasm. (Oof, sad tired metaphor.)

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  9. Sara, I really like your idea about reflecting on the digital story. I think reflection is an imperative piece of learning because it allows students to take a step back and really look at what they have done and took from the lesson/unit. It shows tremendous growth in students especially in reading and writing. The same goes for a portfolio--when students can see their work from the beginning of the year to the end of the year and then talk about the issues they've had, changes they've made, and what they want to continue working on. Being aware of oneself especially one's reading and writing can allow students to understand their process and hopefully make changes to improve. I think the same can be said for the digital story. I think this could be a great way for students to reflect on their work so that they are critically thinking about their own thinking. What better way to become "good" readers!

    Bringing up the "good" readers aspect of your blog makes me think of what makes a "good" reader? How do we tell? I think this is a major problem for students today--they don't want to read out loud and they don't want to read their work because they think they are not "good" readers. However, everyone starts somewhere, right? No one is born a good reader--it takes practice and lots of it. This is what some students lack--the practice of reading skills. I can't think of a better way to engage reluctant readers/writers into our realm by starting with a digital story. It's something they can relate to and hopefully enjoy. Once they have the confidence and basic skills down, then they can focus on harder texts. It's like a ladder, you must start at the bottom and work your way up. Maybe digital stories can even be linked to harder texts to go along while reading.

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  10. My comments are going to incorporate some of the other comments. Firstly, I think the lesson sounds promising. Kadjer's methods of digital storytelling is very realistic, and doable for a classroom setting. You mentioned that Miller's suggestions of digital storytelling is complex, and I agree with you. In the section "Five All-Too-Common Errors," she mentions simplicity (as an error) and the lack of "making the product truly interactive" (167-8). But, the other three errors are avoidable (perhaps even all) with Kadjer's methods of digital storytelling with students. Alex mentions this: I think your lesson will turn into a project that develops their thinking about their thinking, their perceptions, and how that information is filtered through their writing. At the end they could write a self-reflective essay that answers the questions you pose.

    I think Ian's statement about "empowerment" really captures one of Kadjer's motives. Sara discusses the need for digital literacy, in general, in today's society, and that privileged students might have the advantage. That's why this type of integration of literacy and technology is important. If student's know how to use technology for their own purposes, then they will feel empowered to express themselves creatively. That creativity can be harnessed to help them begin writing.

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  11. Apparantly, I rambled on for too long so I have to paste in my blog in two seperate parts:
    Part 1:
    I too agree that digital storytelling may indeed promote confidence and a sense of authority in order to gain control over text and a student’s use of language. Many of you have suggested that it is in fact necessary to implement metacognitive strategies in order to access a student’s ability to understand their choices when pulling together the stories they have to tell. We can agree then that this type of project would be deemed effective in composition classes and English classes alike. But, I want to push the boundaries of the idea of digital storytelling a bit further. Of course, the point of the project is to provide an account of our own personal narrative. However, what would this project look like if we were to place it in a different setting—say, a science classroom? If you haven’t watched S. Regan’s post on Brockton High school yet, I would suggest that you do so since it is a completely compelling, moving, and a truly telling account of the necessity to expand upon literacy across the curriculum. . For me, what was most striking was the Science teacher’s resistance to change his way of teaching. His resistance, if stubbornly pursued even further could have prohibited the advancement of literacy for his own students. His resistance reminded me of a student that I was tutoring the other night. No, this was not a high school student or an undergraduate student, but a P.h.D student (what?!) from the McCormack Graduate School here at UMass. His school in particular has specifically reached out for help with writing, calling on us English grad folk to lend a helping hand on issues that have been stemming up—with what else, but critical, “deep” reading and writing skills. The Science and Business departments alike are taking strides to effectively incorporate writing into their curriculum, yet the problem is (much like at Brockton High), the teachers do not necessarily know how to teach these reading and writing skills effectively.

    So, without further ado, enter John—a 29 year old Public Policies Doctoral student here at MGS, UMass Boston. An assignment was given to his class to analyze, summarize and reflect over a visiting lecturer’s presentation. His Professor wrote out the assignment explicitly listing prompts for the student’s to provide answers for. Such prompts were as follow: title, methodology, research findings, and assessment. The Professor, expecting a formal written assignment, was shocked to have received back from his student’s bulleted lists instead of a reflection/ “traditional” written assignment piece. A revision was necessary and called for.

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  12. PART 2:

    This is where I came in (with sweaty palms, my heart pounding (tmi?)…

    John relayed to me his immediate frustrations with the assignment at hand. He didn’t see the relevance of integrating his own personal voice into an assessment of research and methodologies, specifically. I had a kind of WWKD? (What Would Kajder Do?) moment. If we were to eliminate the word “personal” from personal narrative in terms of thinking about digital storytelling, we would have a narrative of different sorts (stay with me, here). What I mean is that the student’s were engaging with a digital story—a presentation that involved PowerPoint constructed with texts, video, images and voiceover (the presenter). The resistance became prevalent once the student’s were prompted to take accountability for what they had heard/read by supplementing it into their own words. Not only was John concerned with having the authority to go against the word of the presenter, but felt restricted by his concern with the Professor’s requirements. “All I want to do is write exactly the way in which the Professor wants me to.” It was important that he wanted to mimic the language of academia, but it wasn’t possible for him to get to this point without some reflection over his own language. We first started talking about the presentation itself. I asked him what his process is when he is the one constructing a presentation. I asked him to think about the specific choices he makes and why they are important to him. “Of course, as a presenter you want to relay the facts. So, I’ll start with those first. I’ll use images and diagrams, even video. I guess what I think you’re getting at is –how I draw my audience in, or even why my research is important, right?” Exactly, John. Exactly. As soon as John started thinking about his thinking process, he was scribbling down his own ideas as to how to organize and rearrange his own narrative account of the presentation he had seen. It is clear that at any level and at any age, the ability to negotiate between mediums is a necessity. From PowerPoint to pen, from text message to blog, the reclaiming of the power of contemplative thought begins at the level of conversation. Although with the right tools we can elicit contemplative thought through the creation of digital storytelling, it is equally important for those who are listening to that story to be actively engaged in the process and creation of the narrative at hand.

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  13. Hey Sara!
    I like what you said about students "describing their moves," because this can often be just as helpful as making the moves themselves. Especially when it comes to a multi-media project like this, when students know that they want certain images to strengthen their story, but might not be able to articulate WHY they chose those images or text.
    I agree with Miller that human beings are natural storytellers, but she seems to be making a point that digital storytelling has complicated the storytelling process, including non-linear narrative, and three-dimensional characters instead of archetypes.
    One thing I was thinking about your assignment was the benefit to the audio portion of the project. I can't tell you how many times I ask students to read their written work out loud during the rewriting process! For whatever reason, huge gaps in logic, as well as bulky syntax and errors in grammar become obvious when spoken out loud. I think that's a very strong part of your assignment!

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