Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Tech4Learning's new iPad app., Pixie, may just be my next good find.
If you are a reader of this blog you know that I favour personal narratives. There is nothing more satisfying than guiding students and adults through the process of creating their own digital stories.
With Pixie for iPad the task of stitching a story together is very easy.
1. Importing Images
Pixie for iPad allows access to your camera roll. Right away, if you are taking photographs or have access to scanned images, you're in business. As well, since all your images are available to you through your camera roll, the process of importing them into your story is a snap.
2. Stickers for Photographs
It took a little searching in the stickers panel of the app. but I was able to find photographs. Depending on the story you are telling these photos may come in handy if your participants have difficulty finding suitable photos for their stories. Also, I'll have to check with the folks at Tech4Learning about copyright.
3. Voice Recording
If you click on the Options panel, you are able to record your voice on a slide by slide basis. I'm impressed with the recording quality. I did have a little trouble with a scratchy sound coming through if I was handling the iPad. But I solved this by placing the iPad flat on the table in front of me and I was able to record a clean track. I'm not sure yet whether voice can be recorded over multiple slides. I'll keep trying to see if I can do this. Oh, and there was a gym class going on two doors over and the sounds of children playing did not come through in my voiceover recording.
4. Transitions and Timing
This is something that may be a challenge for some. You can set the timing for each slide by the second and there is a short list of transitions. I picked fade as the less 'transition distraction' is the way to go, so as not to distract from the story.
5. Background Music
Still reading? Good. This feature is a beauty. There are about 20 to 25 sound tracks to choose from! I selected 'Gentle Guitar' and had a soothing guitar playing in the background while my voice told the story. Lovely! While I could not find a way to adjust the duration of the background music, just not having to find music is great. Pick the mood you need to set and you're off.
6. Exporting Video
Pixie for iPad has a number of options to export your story. The Export Video option provides three ways to export: Camera Roll, App., or Email. Camera Roll is likely the best bet, although I haven't tried it yet, I will when I get finished the sample you see above. In a school, it may be difficult to get video from the Camera Roll from an individual device but we have solved this by using a cloud service.
I'll be using Pixie for iPad and other solutions for the months of May and June this school year. I find the end of the year is a perfect time for students to write digital stories. They have an entire school year to look back on and their writing skills have matured.
Sunday, February 17, 2013
I had a special experience with the lower school teachers at Collegiate School on Friday this week.
It was one of those workshops where barriers come down, trust and honesty are evident and when 30 minutes after the session ends, 80% of the participants are still enjoying the showcase and celebration of their stories.
They wrote about relationships and places, triumphs and natural disasters. But mostly they wrote about moments in their lives. There's a deep sense of feeling and knowing as the listener is transported into a particular moment.
There is something special about hearing a person's digital story spoken aloud for the first time in a group setting. Applause, tears, heads nodding knowingly and sometimes silence, a 'knowing silence' - - that time when the only thing to do is sit there and soak in what you have just heard. And then realize you just had the privilege of being in that moment with the writer.
Thank you Collegiate teachers for writing about your moments and sharing them with me.
Saturday, December 08, 2012
Part of my teaching assignment is to introduce new ways to "show what you know". And from my days 5 years ago taking photographs with a tripod and using Windows Movie Maker to try to animate the photos we have come a long way since then. I continue to find this type of storytelling interesting, innovative and a very good way to motivate students.
I have collected a number of resources along the way and tried to find ways to bring animation closer to the students. In the photo above, you'll see my 6 year old Mac Mini, a 5 year old school owned Canon Mini DV camera and a school owned monitor. I used this set-up this week as a demonstration animation station. I have it on a metal cart on wheels which allows me to move from classroom to classroom.
National Film Board - Canada (NFB) Resources
StopMo - Great site. 18 minute segmented step-by-step process for animation. Includes a detailed series of lesson plans which can be adapted to different grade levels.
We're very fortunate to have an agreement with Tech4Learning to have Frames animation software installed on each academic image among publicly funded schools in Ontario.
Mobile Animation Apps. for iOS
For iPhone and iPod Touch I have had success with (free) LEGO® Super Heroes Movie Maker
And just last week a student in grade 8 showed me a terrific app. for iPhone and iPod Touch called iMotion HD. Unlike the LEGO® app., which saves to the Camera Roll, iMotion HD does not save unless you purchase the full version for $1.99. We also use the animation instructional videos included with NFB's free (in Canada) PixStop Animation App. for iOS. Three short tutorial films are included with the app. and are very good: "Three Principles of Animation", "Flipbook" , and "Storyboarding".
Steps in the Process
I encouraged students to keep a few things in mind when creating their animations:
a) Create a 3 panel storyboard which shows: beginning, middle, and end.
b) Write next to your sketch the Action Sequence in each panel.
b) Select no more than 3 characters to be the 'talent' in the animation.
c) Tell your story in 10 seconds or less.
d) Decide ahead of time whether you'll be creating your animation as a Pixilation with classmates, with toy characters, or with clay.
Note: There are other animation options but these are three good ones with which to start.
Teacher Created Resources:
York Region teacher Dan Grant uses animation in his junior classroom and penned an article a while back for ETFO's Voice magazine on Stop Motion in the classroom. The best collection of templates and instructional videos around is by teacher Kevin Hodgson. His animation website is terrific.
Update: This week we started storyboarding and creating backgrounds. A trip to No-Frills was necessary. Came back with about 40 cardboard boxes!
Friday, December 07, 2012
Also offered are professional development workshop opportunities for teachers.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Thursday, November 26, 2009
As an antidote to Black Friday, which follows the American Thanksgiving, Storycorps.org is suggesting that Friday November 27th, 2009 be a "National Day of Listening".
Here are a couple of guides if you decide this event would be a worthwhile part of your life:
1. Educator's Guide
2. Community Guide
And here is a more kids friendly guide on how to record stories.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Sunday, November 08, 2009
I've used Delicious tagging to assist in finding a resource you may be looking for.
Hopefully, your search time will be minimized. I've tagged with the following headings: Books, Exemplars, Guides, Readings, Rubrics, Storyboards and Websites.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
This list contains books I have read. I'm sure there are many more. Also, the books here are mostly about writing personal, compelling, nonfiction narratives.
1. Hartley and McWilliam. Story Circle, Digital Storytelling Around the World. West Sussex, U.K. Blackwell, 2009.
Suggested: Chapter 18, page 252. Digital Storytelling in Education, An Emerging Institutional Technology? by Patrick Lowenthal
2. Pink, Daniel. A Whole New Mind, Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age. New York, Penguin Group, 2005
Suggested: Chapter 5, page 98. Story
3. Porter, Bernajean. DigiTales, The Art of Telling Digital Stories. Colorado, 2004.
Suggested: Chapter 5, page 107. Stepping Through Making a Digital Story
4. Field, Billy. Make a Movie That Tells a Story. Alabama, 2000.
Suggested: Chapter 2, page 5. Story & Screenplay
5. Sheridan, Sherri. Developing Digital Short Films. Pearson, 2004
Suggested: Part 1, page 18. Digital Storytelling, Beginning the Story Concept Process
6. Ohler, Jason. Digital Storytelling in the Classroom. Corwin, 2008.
Suggested: Chapter 8, page 107. Transformation Formations. How We, and the Characters in Our Stories, Change
7. McClean, Shilo T. Digital Storytelling. The Power of Visual Effects in Film. MIT Press, 2007.
Suggested: Chapter 2, page 15. Once upon a Time: Story and Storycraft
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
Monday, August 03, 2009
What I like about Marco's brand of digital storytelling is how he has his participants select one of their passions as their topic and then write about it -- or visually display the passion with music and no words in some cases.
This is not an easy task to accomplish in two days. Not only do participants need to "bring along" raw materials [or search for them], but they need to write a narrative that makes sense, match it with music, then stitch it all together in short order.
Notice how the topic titles are usually one word titles which give a hint to the viewer about what the story will be about. Then, it is up to the author to tell the story. Empty, Afraid, Family, Passion, Drama, and Baseball are just a few of the titles. Simple and clear.
I'd really like to be in the classrooms of these 13 teachers this school year to be a part of the excitement as they share their new-found digital storytelling skills with their students. Wouldn't you?
View the latest batch. Best viewed in Safari or Firefox.
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Our local Canadian Forces Base Anniversary Celebration was this past weekend.
This story is one of about 8 stories from a group of students I worked with this year in a 4th and 5th grade class. I was contacted by a teacher who thought that adding original digital stills and voiceover narration to the speeches her students were writing would add to the experience. Boy, did it ever!
I had the parents of these students tell me what an exciting time their children had creating their "digital speeches".
In this story, the student describes a scene in the Arctic. He didn't have to search creative commons for the photos. His dad was the pilot of the plane and provided the photos from one of his search and rescue missions.
As the student and I were finishing the story, his dad happened to stop by the school. We showed him the story. A very powerful and engaging 2 minutes of listening and watching followed. The look on the dad's face told it all.
Patrick Lowenthal's research on Digital Storytelling in the classroom, on page 252, Chapter 18 of "Story Circle, Digital Storytellling Around the world" supports this "digital speeches" project. Here is what he found:
Amplify Students' Voice
"Perhaps one of the greatest benefits is digital storytelling's ability to reach the many "unheard and unseen students" in our classrooms (Bull and Kajder 2004). Storytelling gives students voice (Burk 2000). However, digital storytelling can give students voice "in ways that are not possible without the technology" (Hofer and Swan 2006: 680) because it can amplify a students voice. Further, it can help give voice to struggling readers and writers. (Bull and Kajder 2004)
Saturday, July 04, 2009
During a delightful lunch with Bernajean [that's me in the middle] in the Second Life gathering spot, we talked about how folks are looking to write and experience stories which go deeper or higher. I mentioned that in a recent ETFO ICT mini-conference the DST sessions were the ones that were filled to capacity and had wait lists. Could it be that during these challenging economic times, people are longing to tell their story?
At Bernajean's poster session I bumped into Stevie Kline, a Technology Integrator and Teacher Trainer in Pennsylvania. She told me [with tears flowing] how attending Bernajean's digital storytelling camp in Colorado had changed her life and how creating a digital story about her father, was such a moving experience.
I also had a chance to speak with Jon Orech, a digital storyteller from Illinois. Jon talked about how he got started in DST and that he was fortunate to have a session with Joe Lambert at Berkeley. Jon talked about the first three characteristics of Joe Lambert's method; Point of View, Dramatic Question and Emotional Content and gave masterful explanations of how to skillfully get students and adults to write using these concepts.
I attended the DST "Birds of a Feather"session and was able to get first hand glimpse of the Video Nation, Frontline PBS connection to DST. This is a collection of stories on how technology has changed the lives of our youth. Rachel Dretzin was at the session and explained the PBS involvement and that they will be collecting stories along the way and producing a PBS Special in January of 2010 which will be a follow-up to the popular Growing Up On-line special.
All in all, a very rewarding experience on the digital storytelling front at NECC 2009. Now, time to reflect on all the great DST learning before my next session.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
WebQuests and Digital Storytelling have been two of my interests for many years.
Americans Bernie Dodge and Tom March, from San Diego State, created the WebQuest method in 1995 and Dana Atchley has been credited for starting the Digital Storytelling movement back in 1993 which was later adapted and refined by Joe Lambert in the late '90s.
Why these two examples?
Well, as many of us who work with teachers and students do as early adopters, we try the latest method with the hopes of engaging and motivating teachers and students to go deeper in their daily school work and have a meaningful learning experience. But do we really get it? [read me]
I remember my first WebQuest attempt back in 1999 being no more than an electronic scavenger hunt. Bernie Dodge's method requires higher order thinking and transformation of knowledge. I remember my first digital story was really just a retell of a story about my Grandfather. Bernajean talks about living in your story and lessons learned.
So what do Bernie Dodge and Bernajean Porter have in common?
Well, they articulate in various ways, through websites, podcasts, articles and books, just what it takes to create a WebQuest or Digital Story. They talk about what is required to go deeper. These two methods of communication require a deeper understanding that, for me, didn't happen right away. After all, I was trying to make sense of it from books, podcasts, articles and the exemplars offered having not sat in on a session by Bernajean or Bernie.
Bernajean explains the elements of digital storytelling very well in the article above. For me, this is good timing as I prepare another resource for the provincial level. For many of us who will be attending NECC in D.C. this is also good timing before our "Birds of a Feather" meetup with Bernajean next Tuesday.
So, if you want to "go deeper" when you create a digital story, I suggest you read Bernajean's article or better yet, listen as she explains the process . Bernajean explains the difference between stories and storytelling.
If you are like me, you'll need it repeated over and over again to get it just right.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Source: M.D. Roblyer, 4th edition, 2006, page 298.
Many of us have either read an edition of M.D. Roblyer's Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching, or purchased our own copy.
Back in May of 2000 the 2nd edition of this book was my very first Amazon.com purchase. Back then, there were no mentions of digital storytelling.
I am happy to note that digital storytelling, and some various morphs of the original craft, is mentioned on the following pages of the 4th edition:
Pages 297 - 298: Producing series of digital images.
Pages 253 and 354: As a top 10 strategy for technology in social studies.
Pages 358 - 359: As a strategy during the study of history.
On page 358 of the 4th edition digital storytelling is defined as:
"..the process of using images and audio to tell the stories of lives, events, or eras. With this technique, students use personal narrative to explore community-based history, politics, economics, and geography. These projects offer students the opportunity to make their own lives a part of their scholarly research."
This quote is listed as part of a technology integration idea for the study of Anne Frank in 7th to 9th grade history.
The possibilities are many!
Monday, June 08, 2009
Gareth Morlais talked about this book on his blog a while back and after trying to find the least expensive price, it has arrived today. I think this may be the book I've been waiting for.
As I've mentioned before, I got hooked on digital storytelling back in 2004 when I discovered the Scott County digital stories. Just a year later during the winter of 2004-2005, I brought digital storytelling to our school district after putting together a digital storytelling proposal which ended up to be a digital storytelling writers' workshop, day long session in 8 different locations for enrichment writers. In all we taught about 128 children how to tell a compelling digital story about their lives.
Fast forward to 2009 and Story Circle, Digital Storytelling Around the World, edited by J. Hartley and K. McWilliam has been published.
After having read the 5 page list of contributors, which reads like a Who's Who of digital storytellers, I really can't wait to get started reading this one. Here are the names of two contributors from the list.
Joe Lambert Co-Founder and Executive Director, Center for Digtial Storytelling.
Daniel Meadows, Creative Director, Capture Wales 2001 to 2006.
Usually I flick to the chapter I think will interest me most - - not this time. For me this will be a cover-to-cover read. That way I can prolong the fun!
So, if you decide to check this book out of your local library or purchase it, I'd like the opportunity to have a conversation with you about anything from the book. We could start here in the comments section or create a wiki or a book-blog.
There are a couple of good quotes on the back cover, but I won't spoil your fun and write them here just in case you decide to read this one!
Note: Go ahead and use any of the ideas from my digital storytelling proposal if you wish.
Thursday, June 04, 2009
Quote by T.C. Hammond and J. Lee
With the 65 anniversary of D Day just a couple of days away - "The sun was just coming up over the Normandy coast at about 5 a.m. on June 6, 1944 – D-Day." there is no better way to introduce our students to this event than by using our historical archives.
The CBC Digital Archives has 13 television clips and 14 radio clips on the topic. Primary sources at hand for our young people. Why not have our students create a special video using materials from the archives.
The book is divided into 4 parts with part 1 devoted to Digital Storytelling. This section is packed with ideas, quotes, graphics, charts, notes, and suggestions.
Here are a couple of quotes from page 18:
- The first and primary goal of a filmmaker is to evoke a series of strong emotional responses from the audience throughout the entire story.
- You engage the audience when you tell the truth emotionally based on your own experiences and original insights about life in your film.
"It's a great responsibility to be a filmmaker....
1. How do you want people to feel when they see your film?
2. What emotional responses are you trying to evoke?
3. What are the new themes for the 21st century that you are passionate about developing in your own stories?"
Page 36 speaks to how people often choose films based on what type of emotional ride or world they are craving to experience. The author calls this segment: "Story Flavors: 37 Varieties" - - Many topics are defined including historical, personal, societal, biographical.
So, I recommend this book to you. Perhaps your local library has a copy. Well worth reading.
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
This month's segment devotes a full 10 pages to using video in the classroom. Here's the link to my favourite of the lot.
Telling Stories with Video
by Carl A. Young and Sara Kajder
Professors Young and Kajder write about how important video is as a part of students' multimodal learning. Here's a quote from the article.
"integrating visual images with written text, as done in most digital stories and multimodal compositions, enhances and accelerates comprehension. Meaning here is more layered, interactive and complex. Text and pictures often convey more meaning when juxtaposed. This effect is further intensified with digital video, where motion, design, and interactivity are added to the mix."
Friday, May 29, 2009
I've been accepted as an E.T.F.O. Presenter on the Road for the 2009-2010 school year. What this means is that if your school or district would like to conduct a digital storytelling workshop then all you would need to do is download and complete this workshop request form.
My original proposal was to conduct day long workshops. During my conversation yesterday with E.T.F.O. provincial, there was some interest in after school sessions.
Hope to see you at one of the sessions!
E.T.F.O. = Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Source: New York Times
Interviewer: J. David Goodman
Photography : Todd Heisler
Martin Jorgensen, who hosts the digital narrative , alerted his twitter followers today about the terrific "One in 8 Million" digital storytelling website from the New York Times. These are timeless stories which, in my humble opinion, are the true definition of digital storytelling.
In this story we are introduced to a teenager from New York. During the almost 3 minutes we get an up-close-and- personal-story told to us in a voice that allows the viewer to listen in a way that is quite personal. We hear that she is a very busy person. She does not have much time in her life where she is not doing something.
If I was starting a digital storytelling workshop with students right now, I'd start with this example and then I would have the students voice their story. I may write a number of questions the students could answer just to get them started, then sit with them, start the digital recorder, press record and see what comes of it.
Notice her "voice" in the story is natural. It is as if she is "just telling" her story to an Aunt or Grandmother over tea at the kitchen table. You come away from hearing/seeing this story with just what this person's life is like on a typical day.
Saturday, May 02, 2009
ADVENTURES IN GRAPHICA: Using Comics and Graphic Novels to Teach Comprehension, 2-6
by: Terry Thompson
I found out about the book during a conversation with my favourite Principal and one of his amazing teachers. I learned more about the power of "Graphica" - reading and writing comics, in our 15 minute discussion than I had learned in the past year. Here's the gist:
I listened to how a particular group of boys, one in particular, had really not "cottoned on" to writing non-fiction until they began reading comics and creating panels for their own comics. As a part of a three week block, two teachers in our district have enthusiastically orchestrated an amazing non-fiction writing, content driven unit of study.
From an analysis of the components of comics which include layout, panels, speech bubbles, narrative boxes, lettering, directionality, importance of pictures and the gutter, students are creating their own comic stories. [Pages 28, 29 and 30]
Yes, I didn't know what gutters were either [in comics] until I had it explained to me. A gutter is the space "in between" comic panels where things happen "out of site" of the reader. One has to infer what is happening. The example from Graphica is when Spiderman is heading home one day after a day of crime-fighting. In one panel he is in full costume then he tumbles into a bush and by the next panel, he has transformed into Peter Parker. No changeroom, no phonebooth, just wham, he is now Peter Parker. Students and readers must figure out for themselves what is happening along the way. They do this in many ways, by visual clues, background knowledge, re-reading previous panels, etc.
I had a boy approach me yesterday and ask if I would look at "read" his panels for his comic. There was no text yet. He was able to describe to me what was happening. Background knowledge and gutter inference was needed by me to follow the story. Amazing!
Oh, my part in all of this was to conduct a train-the-trainer model to scan the original art work for the comics into Photoshop so the students could pop their story panels into Comic Life software. A mundane task really, compared to the lessons the students [and me] learned on how to create an amazing story - - from the gutter!
So, next time a teacher says to me, "I'm teaching about gutters", I'll know what she is talking about!
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Although the focus of the book is about digital storytelling and visual effects, Ms. McClean has probably the best chapter I've ever read on Story and Storycraft [Chapter 2]
Her definitions of story are spot on. She provides background from some of the greats including Socrates and Aristotle. Her descripton of the 6 elements of tragedy on page 17 are particularly well done.
She devotes one of the chapters to one of my favourite story tellers: Steven Spielberg. [Chapter 9]
Actually, the chapter speaks to the works of Spielberg, George Lucas and James Cameron [a fellow Canadian]. There is a terrific quote by Mr. Lucas. It goes like this:
"My films deal with...
- the need for humans to have friendships
- to be compassionate
- to band together
- to help one another
- and to join together against what is negative
Call up in your mind some George Lucas films and it won't be very difficult to connect the universals he speaks about in this list.
Enclosure: The enclosure in this post is one of my favourite G.L. clips. "Communication"
Monday, April 20, 2009
Capture Wales was one of the first digital storytelling sites I found to help me on my dst journey.
Many years ago they started with only a few categories. They were family, passions, etc. Now I see they have expanded and have categories from A to Z.
The story here is about a young woman and the memories she has of her Grandfather.
This type of digital story is called a Memorial Story. Memorial stories deal with memories of people who are no longer with us. These stories are often difficult to produce and to watch but are emotionally powerful and can help with a person's grieving process.
A Memorial Story is just one type of Personal Reflection Story.
Note: Capture Wales encodes all their digital stories using Real Player.
Download: BBC Capture Wales - Guide to Digital Storytelling
Here's the text of "Someone is Watching Over Me" by Rhian Williams
"Ever since I was little me and my Granddad have been close. Unfortunately not long ago he became a very ill man but, although he was very ill, he was the strongest man I knew. He had struggled through a heart transplant and lung cancer, each time coming out stronger than ever.
Last November he developed a nasty cold and when he was admitted to hospital I remember thinking there's no need to worry, he's going to be fine. He always is, Granddad always gets better. But then it turned nasty, to pneumonia. Granddad suffered, gradually getting worse until he passed away on the 2nd January 2006. It was hard to get over such a big loss but I had to concentrate as I had my GCSEs later that year and Granddad has always pushed me to do my best in school. Thankfully I did well and wished he could have been with me to celebrate.
However, the following Christmas I lay restless in bed and that's when Granddad came to visit me. There he was standing at the bottom of my bed saying, "Congratulations on your exam results. I'm just sorry I wasn't there to congratulate you." This visit meant the world to me and my family and now I can be sure he's always there when I need someone watching over me. I just hope he pays another visit soon."