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?