Wednesday, October 21, 2009

An Alternative to Traditional Story Telling

I know I have previously posted some of my thoughts on Digital Storytelling, but I always have more...

Children love stories. You can quiet a classroom of precocious kindergartners in two seconds flat if you open a picture book. Fourth graders will stop with they are doing, in the midst of VERY interesting conversations ;), to turn and listen as their teacher opens the current chapter book they are reading. Even high school students, who are too cool to even acknowledge their teachers, will open their ears, and listen, as a story is being read.

Why are stories important? Stories help children in so many different ways, it’s astonishing! They can help children cope with their internal issues; such as fear or stress. Stories help children handle their feelings and the feelings of others. When you read or tell a story which contains feelings and emotions, children learn to accept their feelings and to understand how others feel. So, in a way, stories can help children develop empathy. They learn that other children may feel the same as they do, and this helps them realize that their feelings are normal. Children can use stories as a way to find information and learn facts and history. Stories can help develop a child’s imagination; they offer children an escape from reality that is all too often neglected. I find stories to be a wonderful tool for teaching lessons that students can relate to. The historical fiction chapter book, Fever 1793, depicts a young girl’s journey through the Yellow Fever epidemic in Philadelphia Pennsylvania; set in 1793. This story would be an awesome supplementary text to a Social Studies lesson...this story provides children with a relatable young female character, and this can add a whole new level of meaning to an upper elementary history lesson.

So, here I am telling you how important stories are. Well, Digital Storytelling is simply a different approach, yet it’s still addresses the issues and concepts that “regular” stories address. Digital Storytelling has just added a new twist to traditional storytelling. We all have stories about the events, people, and places in our lives. In a group process, the sharing of these stories connects people in special ways. And the integration of digital images, sounds, narration, and music can pique interest in a variety of students with a story to tell! It can add excitement to a normally dull activity. However, it is important to remember and make sure that the content remains the driving force behind any project. Digital stories are great, because they highlight WHAT our students are saying, which should always be more important than HOW they are saying it.

With all that being said, the use of technology for Digital storytelling (using the available tools such as the computer and Internet) may be difficult in a lot of classrooms that lack the resources due to financial issues. Honestly, at this point, I’m not sure how to combat those problems besides spending time in a computer lab or creating group projects to be created outside of the classroom. Either way, the final outcome of a Digital Story will bring an interesting multi-media mix of images and voice to your classroom. And, the fact is, new and innovative technologies are "popping" up at the speed of light! And with these incredible resources at our fingertips, teachers need to adapt! We have this opportunity that would be so unfair to our students if we didn’t take advantage of it.

Just to give you an idea….my TE 401 group made a Digital Story as a companion to our Michigan Historical Museum Field Trip. I’m posting it here, please take a look!


  1. I like this post. I think it is very insightful on this topic of digital story telling. I also think there are some draw backs but with the changing technology basically every day I believe it is something we will be seeing more and more. Although I think it is extremely hard to replace simply reading a book out loud from the actual book, it is such a treasure and catches the attention in a different way than technology ever could.

  2. I agree! Personally, I'm a complete book worm, hopefully there never comes a time when cracking open a good book is "archaic".