Digital Storytelling: A Student Project

In a recent post, I set a few goals for myself, goals that would help me move toward integrating technology in the classroom to engage and empower students. I still think these are good goals but to be honest I’ve dragged my feet a bit and done little in the way of implementation. Fortunately for me, motivation has come in the form of a graduate school assignment. The assignment is to plan a digital storytelling project for my students. This blog will outline my preliminary plans for this project.

You may wish to view the short presentation on my last blog post, but at a minimum, you should know that digital storytelling is the use of media and technology to “tell a story,” but as it relates to education, it is a learning tool for students.

Digital Storytelling Project for Algebra Students
• 7th grade Algebra students will work in groups of 3 or 4 to create a digital story (lesson) using Prezi or PowerPoint.
• Student groups will select a concept previously covered or one that will be covered before the due date of the project.
• The purpose of the digital lesson will be to (1) provide a review of the concept, (2) present a real-world problem, and (3) demonstrate use of the concept to solve the real-world problem.
• Students will use their online textbook resources, Algebra Nation online tutorial videos, Khan Academy videos, and other web resources to gather information regarding their concept and to decide how best to present the concept (All resources used will be documented.).
• Students will use the same resources above to either locate or gather ideas about how their selected concept can be used to solve a real-world problem. Additionally, students may look at print or online magazines and newspapers.
• Students will select a real-world problem or write one of their own (Problem to be approved by the teacher.).
• Students may use webcams, tablets, cell phones, and flip cameras as needed to record audio and/or video needed for their digital story. (Students may use their own devices and school laptops and desktops will also be available for use.)
• Students will be shown examples of digital stories in math and other curriculum areas for ideas for their own digital lessons.
• Students groups will be scheduled dates to meet with the teacher for project updates and advice, though teacher facilitation and advice will be ongoing.
• The digital lesson will be created using Prezi or PowerPoint and must include audio and video elements.
• The digital lesson must allow for either (1) a stopping point for class discussion and/or (2) a short end-of-lesson assessment.

With digital storytelling, students gain valuable technology skills, use creativity, work cooperatively, gather and communicate information, and make decisions. These aspects of digital storytelling will benefit students, but they will also work nicely as I implement my own technology goals (Use technology to empower students and encourage creativity and use technology to connect students to new concepts.).

I welcome any suggestions, resources, and ideas for this planned project.


Toward More Interactive Learning

In previous blog entries, I’ve pondered ideas about how to become a more connected teacher and how to start incorporating more technology into my classroom. These ponderings have led me to create some goals for myself. Thus far, my goals have been to use social media to interact with other educators to create a personal learning network, to use more digital media to both engage students and to help them make connections to new concepts, and to encourage students to use technology to demonstrate their learning. As all these ideas continue to form and as I continue to read about educational technology, I’ve run across some interesting ideas about how teachers can make learning more interactive for students.

According to a recent article in eSchoolNews (Broderick, 2015), “to make a real difference, educators have to integrate technology in a meaningful way” in order to connect with today’s student, who readily and easily accesses the internet, plays video games, and connects with peers using various social media platforms. What this means is that teachers should employ methods to make learning more interactive for students. The eSchoolNews article points to three (though I’m sure there are more) ways to do this:

  • Incorporate gamification into lessons – Gamifying lessons takes advantage of students’ enjoyment of video games and competition to engage and involve them to a higher level. Examples of gamification include team competition review games embedded in presentation software (such as, “Jeopardy” as a part of PowerPoint) and “quiz show”-type games that can be accessed as a mobile app on student cell phones. One teacher I found has even developed his own interactive online video game to support curriculum (Check out his blog:
  • Make lectures and lessons a two-way conversation – Students engage in communication almost constantly through social media, and the eSchoolNews article points out that students “often have difficulty adjusting to traditional classroom lectures, where they are expected to silently take notes while the instructor speaks.” (Broderick, 2015) To make lectures more interactive, the article suggests teachers include questions into lesson presentations (slides) and to use response technology (clickers, response apps on cell phones) to “give students a voice in the classroom.” (Broderick, 2015) From a teacher’s standpoint, another positive result of this is that student responses to embedded questions act as a formative assessment, checking student understanding of the lesson.
  • Crowdsourcing learning – According to Broderick (2015), crowdsourced learning is essentially a “next step” form of peer instruction in which students “participate in the learning process, communicating with fellow students to explore solutions and formulate responses.” By using student responses previously discussed (See #2 above), the results can be used to “facilitate peer instruction,” which goes further to provide students a voice in the classroom and utilize the “collective knowledge” of the class to improving student learning.

While I admit that I have don’t have the coding skills to create my own game of our math curriculum, I do feel there are suggestions I can take. Because I use presentation software for my daily lessons, I can begin to enhance these lessons by embedding questions that allow for student response (Note to self: Locate classroom set of “clickers.”), I can allow students to respond to results and instruct their peers on any deficiencies, and I can incorporate review games. 

Broderick, M. (2015). 3 ways teachers can make learning more interactive. eSchool News. Retrieved on March 6, 2015 from: