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Posts tagged ‘digital storytelling’

Digital Docs in a Box

Several years ago, at the 2013 NCSS conference in St, Louis, I had the opportunity to sit in a session by Mark Hofer and Kathy Swan. Mark teaches at the College of William and Mary, Kathy at the University of Kentucky. During their 2013 session, they suggested that student created documentaries are a great way to engage learners, align instruction to standards, and build foundational knowledge.

But they also admitted that using documentaries as teaching and learning tools can be difficult. They warned about serving a green pancake. Eating a green pancake will get someone’s attention but the pancake doesn’t taste any different or provide any more nutrition. It’s just green. But we can get very excited about it because, well . . . it’s green. So it must be really good. Technology can be like this.

It’s the shiny object idea I’ve talked about before. Technology, while important, is not necessary in every step of the documentary creation process. Make sure that kids are focused on the gathering of social studies content, on answering big ideas and rich questions, and on creating original solutions. Then you can begin to incorporate technology.

They also talked about the very practical problem of how much time it can take to use this sort of learning tool in the classroom.

Mark shared his idea of using Evidence-Based Arguments as a starting point. Every historical investigation needs to begin with a great question. Then they asked kids to do research and create videos. But what they got was disappointing. What they got was basically text with pictures, a script with a background. It wasn’t a story, it wasn’t engaging, and it often didn’t really answer the question.  They begin to realize that they needed to learn more about how to create high-quality documentaries, how to use images and video to actually tell a story.

Mark and Kathy have continued to develop their ideas of integrating digital documentaries into instruction. And I recently learned about their latest project. Read more

StoryCorps, oral history, and Thanksgiving

October 30, 2015

You might find this YouTube video useful as you and your kids conduct your interviews. Steve Inskeep, host of NPR’s Morning Edition, provides some specific interviewing tips. It’s a great resource!


I’ve been on the road quite a bit over the last few months and staying alert during long car rides was becoming a problem. Enter the technology. Both my kids suggested I check out the NPR RadioLab podcast, an incredibly interesting collection of incredibly eclectic topics. I listened to stories about the history of football with a focus on the Indian school in Carlisle PA to using forest fires as a way of increasing bird populations to POW camps holding captured Germans in the US to how Mel Blanc was brought out of a coma by an impression of Bugs Bunny.

Seriously. RadioLab is awesome stuff.

But that got me looking around for other things to listen to. Which led my to another  excellent NPR audio program called StoryCorps. Read more

Adobe Slate: New iPad digital storytelling tool

Back last May, I highlighted three iPad apps that I called the perfect trifecta – apps that focused on the creation of digital products using visuals, text, and audio. One of my favorites on that list is an app called Voice. Voice is a very easy to use tool that captures your voice and overlays that audio on top of images, background music, and transitions.

The end result is a web-based video that can be quickly shared with others. I really love it for end of unit student projects. Simple to use. Lots of copyright free images. Background music built in. A wide variety of transitions and themes. Very slick.

And now?

Adobe just released Slate. Read more

Storybird: Free digital storytelling

Over the next few weeks, I get the chance to spend a lot of time having conversations with teachers about integrating literacy into the social studies. Reading, writing, and communicating. ELA literacy standards. My C4 Framework. The NCSS Inquiry Arc.

I love these kinds of discussions. Teachers brainstorming and sharing ideas. Thinking and talking about effective strategies. Good times. So part of what I’ve been doing the last few days is exploring different tools that support literacy in the classroom. And today, one of my finds.


An online tool that encourages the creation of visual stories in seconds. It’s a simple idea that has attracted more than 5 million stories – making Storybird one of the world’s largest storytelling communities. Read more

Hstry: Free 21st century timelines that are awesome

December was a busy month. I had stuff going on. You know . . . college basketball season had kicked in, those pesky Christmas lights, the Star Wars VII trailer was out. Normal December stuff.

So I missed it. Back on December 4, I missed a post by Richard Bryne over at Free Technology for Teachers highlighting a very cool new timeline tool that I think you need to try out. If you’ve already read Richard’s post, feel free to just re-watch the trailer. Or you could make yourself useful – use the new tool to create a timeline and share it in the comments.

But if you’re like me and didn’t get the chance to browse through the December 4 post, hang around a bit. I’ve had the chance to hear from others who’ve used it and tried it myself – and I’m convinced you need to check it out.

Hstry is a Read more

The perfect iPad creation trifecta: iMovie, Storehouse, and Voice

Hi. My name is Glenn and I’m an Apple nerd.

I haven’t yet crossed the line to join the semi-crazed, standing in line for days to get the latest Apple shiny tool, Cupertino logo t-shirt wearing, sweat-stained towel thrown to the audience during Apple WWDC by the late Steve Jobs owning, theme song singing Apple cult.

I’m not saying it won’t happen. But so far . . . I haven’t jumped on the loony Apple fan train.


But I really do love my iPad / iPhone / Macbook combo and how they all work together. The ease of use, the simple flow of information, the look and feel. It’s all pretty sweet.

And no. I have not played much with the Surface or other tablet options. Or spent a ton of time with Chromebooks. But I am open to the idea that other options and choices are available. And next week, I’ll share some device agnostic tools that work across platforms. But today . . . it’s all Apple. Because I’m convinced that I’ve found the perfect trifecta of iOS creation tools.

So if you’re not an iPad user or thinking about using iPads, feel free to move along. Nothing to see here.

If you’re an Apple nerd and still hanging around, you know that the perfect trifecta should include creation tools that focus on visual, textual, and auditory elements. And yes. All three of the trifecta are able to combine video, text, and audio into a final product. But each of the following tools focus on a particular element – providing you and students to select just the right tool for the required task.

So here ya go . . . Read more


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