Tag Archives: digital stories

Final Reflection

reflections

It is hard to believe this semester is over and I have finished all of my university classes.  It honestly seems like yesterday when I started my final semester.  I admit at the beginning of ECMP 455 class, I was nervous and unsure if I could handle the course load and assignments.  I look back now and I am so glad I undertook the challenge and tried something new.  I have never considered myself confident using technology and often would choose to avoid it.  This class made me realize that I avoid technology because it is new and always changing.  It is scary to me because I am unsure of the unknown.   I have learned that a person needs to become completely immersed into it in order to fully understand and gain confidence in using it.  I have always used technology in my personal life, yet I rarely thought about its role in education.

I have grown a lot since ECMP 355, not only with the skills I have acquired for using technology, but in my outlook as well.  My understanding and values of using technology have changed in the past two years.  I remember taking the last ECMP class and thinking of how good it would be to learn more skills for my benefit.  On the other hand, this semester was strictly focused on learning how to incorporate technology into the classroom.

This class challenged me to learn new skills and explore new tools associated with technology.  I think the style of an online class forced me out of my comfort zone and gave me the chance to try new things within the boundaries and support of my personal learning network.  I think if someone asked me to do these assignments previous to this class, I probably would have laughed because I never thought I could do it.

I have enjoyed all the assignments in this class because they fostered my personal growth and skill development.  The assignments supported my learning needs by allowing me to work at my own comfort level and by building on my technological skills.  These assignments encouraged me to further my learning and helped build my confidence with technology.  I enjoyed having the freedom to choose the topic of each assignment based on my personal interests.

The assignments were relevant and useful for teaching.  For example, creating our personal blogfolio is a tool to show our professional reflections while we learned how to use it in the classroom setting.   I enjoyed having the choice to create an idea for our major project.  for my major project, I decided to challenge myself  by teaching students an actual project.  I know from working with the students I have learned a lot about the advantages and challenges when creating digital stories.  As well, I now have an experience to reflect on for future lesson plans.  This project challenged me to learn a new skill as well as to realize the value in collaborating with others to create a successful project.  After completion of this assignment, I fully understand the benefits of including technology in the classroom.

During this semester, I have developed a strong personal learning network by communicating with other educators with tools like Twitter, Skype, educational blogs and email.  I have learned in this class how important collaborating and sharing resources with people is for a successful learning outcome with technology.  I have only started building my PLN and I know it will gradually grow with more years of teaching.  I realize having a strong PLN is beneficial just knowing someone is there to support you and offer advice for any problems you face.

Overall,  I have not had many challenges with using technology this semester.  The  major problem I faced was finding enough time to spend exploring and teaching myself about new programs and tools.  I enjoyed having the challenge to learn new things, but it was always time consuming to not only teach yourself something new, but then taking the time to reflect on it.  I learned how to use various programs and tools in this class including Google Apps, Twitter, Elluminate, Delicious, Wikis,  Photo Story 3 and Videos.  I learned new skills like how to upload videos to You Tube and embed videos onto my blog.  As well, I learned to acknowledge and reflect on my digital identity and the footprints I leave in the world.   The most important thing I have learned from this class is I am capable of using technology if I believe in myself and allow enough time for me to learn these new skills.  There are many tools and programs I would like to explore and learn more about when I have extra time including Google Earth, Audacity, Animoto and Bubblr.  Another challenge I had taking this class was conflicting schedules.  For my mentorship projects and my major project, it was always difficult to find time which worked for both myself and the students.  This caused the projects to take more time then originally allotted.

This class thoroughly exposed me to the expanding world of technology while allowing me to develop my technological skills on both a personal and professional level. My goal for this class was to gain confidence using and teaching technology to young students.  I believe I have reached this goal, but not entirely on my own.  My confidence has expanded through my exploration and learning in this semester.  I will take the knowledge and resources from ECMP 455 and use it in my classroom.  I want to thank Alec and Dean for their wonderful classes, as well as my personal learning network.  Their advice and support have helped me to learn and grow as a young professional during this semester.

I want to share this quote, which reflects my feelings for teaching and learning with technology:

“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe.”

~ Anatole France

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Storm Stories

laffy4k

Dark Clouds over Huntington, Indiana

I thoroughly enjoyed working with the grade four students while creating digital stories.  I will definitely use this project idea in my classroom.   This was a great learning opportunity for teaching with technology and I learned how to support my students interests and learning needs.  This project challenged my students to think creatively as well as to build on their problem solving abilities.   It is an engaging project for the students to teach others about their thoughts.  I know there are many possibilities for students to create these stories in various subjects in the Saskatchewan curriculum.

It was a wonderful to see the students engaging and learning to create their own stories.  I saw the confidence and pride in the students while they worked on their stories.  This project gave them a sense of ownership of their learning. They had to make choices to create their stories and decide on the text, pictures, fonts, and transitions  appropriate for their stories.  It took responsibility and co-operation to create the stories.  It was rewarding to see the happiness and excitement the students shared during the process of creating the stories.

I felt that my job moved from directly teaching the students in the lesson, to becoming a facilitator to their learning.  I took the role of supporting the students and offering suggestions rather than telling them what they should do.  The stories were solely their creations.   It was a great experience for me to learn how to let go and allow the students to explore and make their own decisions.  As well, it was rewarding to know I am helping them develop skills and tools they can use in the future.

Reflections from the students during our process:

“This is the best assignment ever, Miss Teale!”

“This is fun!”

“Cool!”

“I didn’t know I could do that.”

“Can we do this again?”

To wrap up our learning and exploration of digital stories, I am visiting the Grade Four students again before the end of April 2009 to have a celebration of learning.  We are going to invite the parents in for the afternoon and share all the stories the students created about storms.  It will be a great opportunity for parents to see what the students have been working on and for the students to share with their classmates the work they have completed.  I look forward to celebrating at the end of the month!  As well, I will be creating a CD of all the stories for each student to take home and share with their friends and family.

Here are a few examples of our storm stories:

The Tornado

The Crazy Storm

Blizzard

The Big Storm

The Hail Storm

Finishing Our Storm Stories

digital-story

On April 3, I was able to make a trip and visit the grade four’s to continue working on our digital stories.   I was a bit nervous starting the day because it had been a few weeks, since my last visit and we had a lot of work to do in order to get the stories completed.   After reflecting on my previous lesson, I decided that the best way to teach the students about creating digital stories using Photo Story 3 was to work with one group at a time.   Since I only had one day to finish the videos,  I felt that this was easier for me to monitor and help the students with questions during the process.  As well, I felt that I could focus on each group by helping them organize and arrange their stories.

I was fortunate to have help from @peglaws, who spent the day working on the stories with the students.  I took one partner group and she took the other group of students.  We worked in the same computer lab, so we were able to help each other and support the students together.   The day started off a little slow because it took time to get the students set up and ready for the process.  As we continued working, Peggy and I became more aware of how to support the students, as well the students became more confident with using the program.  It seemed that with each group, the time spent became shorter and shorter.

Here is an outline of the digital story making process:

Peggy and I each took a group of students to teach them the process for making digital stories.  Each group had one computer to share and work on creating their storm story.  The students had to take turns working on the stories and share responsibilities during the step-by- step process.

import-pics

Step One: Open Photo Story 3, create a new project and import the pictures we saved last day on the student’s account. This was very interesting process because some students had trouble saving their pictures properly to their account, so many pictures were lost.  We helped the students find any pictures saved in their file and import into the program. Then, if more pictures were needed, we searched on Flickr or Google Images and saved them in a digital story folder.  Peggy and I assisted the students to ensure this step went quickly, so not too much time was spent searching for pictures.

story-board

Step Two: When all the pictures were imported, the students worked putting the pictures in order by clicking and dragging them into place.  They used their story boards to help them place the pictures in the correct order.  During this step, the students deleted some pictures as well as decided to add a more pictures to complete their stories.

adding-title-page

Step Three: This step allowed the students to add titles to their pictures.  The students discussed the importance of titles and experimented with creating titles for various pictures in their stories.  The students were able to decide on font style, colour, size and positioned the text appropriately on the pictures. As well, at this time students added a title page for their story.  We retrieved a variety of coloured blank slides from Jakesonline.  The students decided on a title page colour, then added the story title and author names on it.  During this step a few students tried changing the effects of their pictures, but most preferred the original pictures with no effects.

voice-6

Step Four: The students had the most fun recording their narration for the stories.  Previously, I had explained to the students that they could decide on how to record the narration with their partners.  I challenged them to try and think of different ways to record their story.  Most groups took turns reading every second page and read the title page together.  Only one group choose to have one partner read the text while to the other partner made sound effects in the background.   It was very interesting to hear the students practice and record their voice narrations.  It was a neat partnership to see the students share responsibilities and help each other with the recording.  In pairs, the students decided who would record the voice and who would click the record button.  It was a valuable step for the students to be able to review their recording and choose to erase and re-record when necessary.  The erase option helped take the pressure off the students when recording their part of the story.

editing-voice

Step Five: The next step with using Photo Story 3 is to customize motion.  I allowed the students a few minutes to explore this option, but due to time constraints, many groups skipped over this step.  The students thoughts that the automatic transitions and motions looked good.  If I was to work with the students again, I would allow them more time to play and explore with picture motions and transitions because now they have an understanding of the program.

editing

Step Six: This step is for adding background music to the story. For my lesson, I decided that the students would not complete this step for this particular story because we did not have time to discuss or explore the options of adding background music.

Step Seven: The last step is saving the projects to a computer file.   Peggy and I helped the students saved the stories to each students account, by browsing through files and selecting the correct location.  We made sure to save it as a Window Media Video (.wmv) file.  Then, we had the students change the settings of the project because I planned on uploading their videos onto my You Tube account.  We rendered the movie as 320 X 240, which makes it easier to post on-line, rather than the normal 640X 480.

finished-story

Step Eight: Each group viewed their story 😀

First Reflections

teaching-1

On Friday, I had my first visit with the grade four students from Carlyle, SK to work on creating their digital stories about storms.  It was a very busy day of learning for everyone and I went home completely exhausted!

To begin our day, my cooperating teacher was very sick and needed to go home.  She managed to stay until a substitute teacher could come in and help out.  Meanwhile, I was in a rush  gathering equipment I needed to get the students started on their projects.  We decided to work in the regular classroom with the laptops, so I had to re-arrange the classroom set up to get the projector working for the students to see.  For some strange reason the projector would not work, so I had to get the principal to come and help me get it going.  Then, I set up the sound system.  The classroom has a FM system, so I plugged it into my computer and instantly I had surround sound.   I finished getting the rest of the equipment set up and scanned a few photos for the students stories.  I was finally ready to begin our journey.

From my experience, I definitely learned how challenging it is to enter a school not knowing where everything is or how to use all the equipment.  It takes a lot longer to get things set up and ready for the students to work with when you are not in that environment all the time.  Also,  since my internship in the fall the school has received new equipment to use including the computers, so I was a little unfamiliar with using it all.

Step by step process for creating digital stories with the students:

First, I explained to the students details about the process in creating digital stories and shared my personal story about freezing rain.  Previous to my visit, the students had wrote their own story about a storm, then decided on images they would want to find for their stories.  The cooperating teacher took them through the story board process for me, so I could get them started on searching for images during my lesson.  Their story boards were amazing!  I had sent a story board template, but instead the teacher created a different template by photocopying the students stories, then cut the stories into sections and glued these sections onto separate  8 x 10 white papers.  Once all the sections were glued on, the students wrote descriptions of pictures they wanted to find for their stories.  It was an easy story board template, which allowed the students enough space to make changes to their story ideas.

story-board-2

Before getting started, we had a brief discussion period to remind students of the rules and expectations for this assignment.  Then, the students were ready, so we got out the laptops and logged on.   While the computers were loading, I explained to the students how important the images are for creating good stories.  We discussed good and bad examples of images to find for their stories.  As well, we discussed the importance of working with a partner and how to share the computer, so both people have a chance.  (I honestly never knew how long it takes to get eleven laptops up and running on the Internet!  I was very glad that the students were working in partners because it would have taken twice as long if they each had a computer.)

I used the projector to show the students how to search for pictures on the Internet.  I found using the projector was a great tool for teaching all learning styles.  It helped visual learners see what they needed to do, as well the auditory learners could listen to my verbal instructions and the kinaesthetic learners could physically do what I was saying on their own computer.

For the stories, I wanted to find good quality photographs, so I used a few different websites.  The first one we explored was FlickrStorm.   When I created my own digital story, I used this site and found wonderful photos.  I learned about using FlickrStorm on the JakesOnline website.  It is a good resource because it has a tutorial that shares the step by step process of using FlickrStorm and creating photo trays.   It was a nice tool for the students to create their own photo trays that we could download later.   As well, the students searched google images for any extra photographs they needed.

images-1

I definitely think that the process of searching for images is one of the hardest steps to creating digital stories and it takes a lot of time.  We spent the afternoon searching for photos in order to find all the pictures we needed for our stories.  Overall the process went well, there were a few problems that I had to deal with in my lesson.  One issue that occurred was a few students came across some inappropriate photos while searching on the Internet.  They showed me, so I helped to redirect their search.   Soon more students were coming up with inappropriate pictures, so I stopped the students for a class discussion.  We reviewed how to properly find photos on FlickrStorm, so that the pictures can be  commercially used as well, I talked about how to search for specific topics.   I noticed that many students did not know how to properly search for topics.  They were typing in sentences into the search bar, instead of specific word topics.

images-2

This was a real teaching moment for me.  I never thought about the students not understanding how to find specific pictures on the Internet.   As well, I discussed with the students that they may not find the exact pictures they want for their story on the Internet.   If this happened, the partners would have to edit and revise their plans to find different pictures.   Also, I provided the students an example of what they can do if they had trouble finding pictures they needed.  My example: One group was discussing how they needed a picture of firefighters knocking on a house door, but could not find one.  I told this group to maybe try and find a picture of just firefighters because their story will narrate the men are knocking on door.  I reminded the students that their narrations with help create the whole picture for the viewer and add those specific details to their story.  I found that stopping and redirecting the students helped a lot and we were able to finish finding our images 😀

teaching-2

Reflections on this teaching experience:

From this experience I learned many new things about working with students and technology.  If I was to do it all over again, I would know details about my students stories and gather ideas about the types of images they wish to find.  I think I would develop a photo tray of pictures for the students to pick from as well as assist them directly in finding additional pictures.  Also, I would set a picture limit and enforce the importance of quality pictures to illustrate their story, rather then quantity.  I think that it was harder for me to enter the classroom and try to teach the second step of the digital story process because I missed the information and planning of the first step.  It is important for a teacher to be involved with the planning process from the start in order to develop a full understanding of creating digital stories with students.

Also, I would practice saving documents and pictures to files before they begin this process.  I was told that the students know where to save the files on the computers, yet I still had issues with pictures being saved in the wrong folders.  I reminded them about where to save things, yet there still was confusion.  As well, I would spend more time preparing students and teaching them how to label files they save to their computer.   It was very confusing to look at the computer files and figure out which file was their pictures.   I think next time, I would have the students write the file name for the picture on their story board, so it is easy for them to organize into their stories.

Another issue that came up from using FlickrStorm was that some students forgot the first step and make sure they select searching pictures that are for commercial use.  If they forgot to do that, the images they collected were copyright and can not be downloaded for their stories.   I did give several reminders, but when I was checking their files at the end of the day, a few students saved some copyright pictures.  We will have to do more searching for images in my next visit.

As for the inappropriate pictures that they found on the Internet.  I think that I would maybe do some pre-teaching about how some bad images can be found on the Internet.  I would teach them how to avoid finding them and what to do if a bad picture comes onto their screen.  I think a major key to this, is reminding students what the purpose of the assignment and teaching them how to successfully search for specific images.  It is hard and frustrating for a teacher trying to create stories for students because of these inappropriate pictures on the Internet.  I think an important step in creating stories is being able to choose your own photos to illustrate your ideas.   I wish that there was a site specifically designed for students to search on and gather photos.  I had done many searches on FlickrStorm prior to my visit and never came across any inappropriate pictures, so when the students found them I was really shocked.  This was definitely a big learning experience for me and I would like to learn more about searching for images with students on the Internet.  I would love to gather ideas and resources from teachers who create digital stories with their students.  Does anyone have any suggestions or ideas for this situation? How do you handle these problems when searching the internet? I do think that it is important we educate students about these problems because even if they do not find inappropriate things at school, they have a chance of coming across it at home when searching the internet.  Are there any websites  safe/ good for students to search on and find great images?

I will be heading back in a few weeks to work with the students and try to finish their stories.  I am definitely going to take my reflections and ideas from this experience to design and plan the students next work period.  I am glad to be working with students for this project and to be able to get experience with using technology in the classroom.  It is good to experience these problems, so I can learn and make changes to the next lesson plan.  I think the key to this process is reflecting and learning from my experience with creating digital stories with my students!

Creating My First Digital Story

On Thursday, I created my own digital story using Photo Story 3.  My story is based on my personal experience in a Saskatchewan storm.  I decided to focus my story on storms because the students I am working with have wrote personal narratives about storms for creating their digital stories.

Before I started creating my story, I read through an excellent online resource that has step by step tutorials for using Photo Story 3.  It had ideas about planning, finding pictures and using the program to create a story.  I found this resource very helpful because it had detailed descriptions as well as screen share tutorials to walk me through each step.

Here is a brief description of the step by step process for my digital story:

First: Created my own story board (including text and pictures)

Second: Created a file for my digital story (photos, text, etc)

Third: Searched and saved images for my story

Fourth: Imported pictures into Photo Story 3 and saved my story

Fifth: Followed the step by step process to edit images and add transitions

Sixth: Revised my story board (added and deleted text/ pictures)

Seventh: Recorded my narration (I choose not to add music to my story)

Eighth: Saved my video to my computer

Overall the process was very simple and easy for a beginner to use this program.  I definitely would recommend referring to the JakesOnline resource if you are creating your own story using Photo Story 3.  I think that this program will be great for my students to learn about making digital stories.  As well, this experience will help them become familiar with the process of planning, creating and editing digital stories.

Getting Started

Finally, I have a few minutes to work on my final project for ECMP 455.  I decided earlier that I am going to create digital stories with my internship classroom in Carlyle, SK.   My plans are slowly coming together and I hope to make it to the school next week to work with my grade four students.  I am actually glad to have waited to work on this because the past three ECMP classes have been very beneficial to my project.  Dean Shareski presented and discussed with us the importance of visual design for creating videos as well as information about using flip video.  These presentations provided me with resources and ideas to get the students started on their stories.  As well,  Alec Couros provided us with a list of digital storytelling resources.

We had an amazing presentation from Alan Levine talking about 50+ ways to tell a story.  Allan talked about his experience in creating digital stories and shared many good resources to use for creating our own.  His wiki has an abundance of resources for digital storytelling, which many of them I had never heard of before.  During the presentation, he went through and highlighted a few of his favourites, which I thought was very beneficial for starting my own project.  Honestly when I saw the big list of resources, I panicked and thought how will I ever know where to start?  I am the type of learner that likes to have freedom of choice, but specific boundaries.   I feel that way especially working with technology because I do not feel confident enough to explore it solely on my own.  I like some direction to get me started.

From conferencing with teachers at the school and getting a better understanding of the resources available to me, I will start the students out with creating their stories on Photostory 3.  I know that there is so many other options and tools to use, but these students have very little experience with using technology.  In January, the school received all new computers, including laptop carts for transporting into the classroom.  All the computers have Photostory 3, so I think it will be easy for the students as well as the other teachers to use.  I hope to create a wiki about digital storytelling for the teachers at the school, so they can continue to create stories in their classrooms.  I only have a few more things to finish up before I introduce the lesson to my students.   I find the hardest part about planning for digital stories is finding a topic of interest.  I definitely want it to be a creative and fun project, yet I do think that the students need a general topic and guidelines to follow.  I want the students to experience the chance to share their own voice.  If anyone has some topic ideas or experiences they would like to share about digital stories, I would love to hear about them! 😀

I am ready to begin my process of creating digital stories with my students, which I will share my progress on this blog.  Thanks again to everyone who sent me resources and ideas about digital storytelling! If you are interested in learning more about this topic, a colleague of mine, Sarah Hill posted a wonderful explanation of three important steps for digital storytelling.