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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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The Power of Digital Storytelling in the Classroom: Telling Stories With Technology

The first time I saw Ken Burns's documentary series The Civil War, I was captivated. He used old photos and personal letters to bring this part of our history to life and touch our hearts while we learned. Storytelling has been a form of communicating throughout the history of humanity and was a way to educate the younger generations.

We tell stories to children to introduce them to literature. As teachers, we are inspired, impressed, touched, and altogether enlightened with the digital stories we see. Whether on the Web, in a class, or just among friends, I enjoy them so much that when I have a little spare time, I search for new stories and replay several of my favorites. Like little jewels, they brighten my day.

There is an art to storytelling and a sequence to unfolding the story to the end. In the process of storytelling, we become more creative, gain speaking skills, and improve our verbal organizing skills and our ability to empathize. Now, with digital stories, pictures enhance storytelling's visual communication and appeal. The process includes planning, writing, editing, illustrating, and producing the components so that we communicate the heartfelt essence, not just the events.

Children are often bursting to tell their stories, and many teachers want to help them to become good storytellers. In working with hundreds of teachers, I have found that they would like resources and strategies to aid them in this task.

I would like to use the Spiral Notebook as a place to share good ideas and resources for developing storytelling in all levels of our culture and to make it even easier to tell our stories with technology. There are hundreds of guides, forms, software solutions, and examples to choose from. Each week, I will present a scenario and ask for your suggestions. Here is the one for this week:

In this week's case, a second-grade teacher wants to use storytelling in her curriculum but is too busy to help all twenty-five children individually. She decides her storytellers need listeners and help with their scripts. She collaborates with a fifth-grade teacher, and the older students are trained as listeners and scribes to listen to the stories and help the younger ones write or sequence their stories. On this Web site, she sees the Edutopia magazine article, "How To: Use Digital Storytelling in Your Classroom."

What would you suggest for next steps? We now have many helpful guides, software programs, and other resources to help us create and share digital stories. What are your recommendations to help primary teachers who want to use digital stories in their curriculum? Do you have a favorite Web site or training guide, or software recommendations, to get teachers and younger children started?

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