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.
- Digital Storytelling from students in Scott Country (Georgetown, KY)
- Memory Object Stories (something Kevin did with his students)
- Science Alive’s Gifted and Talented Movie Making
- Short Films by Middle Schoolers
Literacy Consultant. Author. Former 4th and 5th Grade Classroom Teacher.