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Digital Storytelling: Technology & Mentors

The latest copy of NCTE’s School Talk arrived in my mailbox yesterday.  The present issue is entitled “21st Century Literacies: Young Children Reading and Writing in a Digital World.” Ceil Candreva wrote one of the articles, “Paving New Pathways to Literacy in the 21st Century,” in the issue. Candreva asserted:

Digital storytelling expands the potential for constructing meaning using multiple modes of communication and expression, a skill our students will increasingly need as we move through the 21st century (4).

As principal of a school where teachers use a variety of technologies with their students, Candreva mentioned one I was unfamiliar with:

Children can generate meaningful texts using digital tools such as Microsoft’s Photostory, a free application that allows users to create a show-and-tell presentation with digital photos or other images.  The software has the capability for narration, pan and zoom effects, transitions, background music, and text.  When a Photostory project is complete, it can be viewed using Windows Media Player, and it can be posted online to share with family and friends near and far (3).

I went online and downloaded Photo Story 3 after I finished reading Candreva’s article.  I created my own digital story about the dinner I made.  While I was photographing my food with the intent to use the images in a digital story, I figured this would be the quickest, easiest way to create a story digitally, while utilizing this new technology.

Photo Story 3 is simple to use.  This is certainly something you can show your students how to navigate in under 15 minutes.  Then, they can begin writing and illustrating their own stories, which they can eventually tell digitally by adding their voice (and music if they desire).

I e-mailed Kevin Hodgson and Bonnie Kaplan, two digital storytelling gurus, after I read the article, asking if they knew of sites where I could find students digital stories.  I soon learned that it’s hard to find children’s digital stories readily available online due to privacy issues.  However, I was directed to the following sites, which you might be interested in consulting should you wish to find digital story mentors for you students if your class is new to the digital storytelling genre.

Stacey Shubitz View All

I am a literacy consultant who has spent over a decade working with teachers to improve the teaching of writing in their classrooms. While I work with teachers and students in grade K-6, I'm a former fourth and fifth-grade teacher so I have a passion for working with upper elementary students.

I'm the author of Craft Moves (Stenhouse Publishers, 2016) and the co-author of Jump Into Writing (Zaner-Bloser, 2021), Welcome to Writing Workshop (Stenhouse Publishers, 2019), and Day By Day (Stenhouse, 2010).

7 thoughts on “Digital Storytelling: Technology & Mentors Leave a comment

  1. On another note, we use iMovie and voice thread for digital storytelling. I like iMovie better, but it requires a Mac and some extensive teacher time supporting first time users. The movies come out looking top-quality.


  2. I apologize in advance for this comment not specifically being about this post, but it’s just too much of a coincidence not to tell you. I was searching for a picture of Thomas Sweet for a writing lesson tomorrow about the importance of specifics when describing a setting readers may not be familiar with. I grew up in New Brunswick and Thomas Sweet was my favorite place- home of my Friday after school treat. Low and behold, your picture of Thomas Sweet popped up and your post is about describing a favorite eatery. Too funny. Hope you’ve had a nice weekend!


  3. Thank you for sharing how digital storytelling can be used. I’ve found it to be very powerful and motivating for my students. Knowing that your audience is ‘the world’ makes writing so much more fun for the students!

    I know you said it was hard to find digital stories online so I figured I’d share. My class has a youtube channel and our digital stories are on there if you want to check them out!


  4. Just got an e-mail through our “Contact Us” Page about the recipes in the digital story. Here are the links to both:
    Grilled Chicken Breasts with Fire Roasted Tomato Sauce Roasted Zucchini with Oregano and Lemon:
    Broiled Zucchini and Potatoes with Parmesan Crust:


  5. I have found my students can learn Photostory easily, although I hear that it may not be part of Windows 7 OS, so I can’t say if it will be around forever. But, Voicethread is another possibility — it’s online and allows for comments in a variety of media.


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