Tag Archives: Digital Storytelling

Tell Me The Story of My Life

Fancy yourself a storyteller, a writer, a creator, a tinkerer, an artist, a child at heart? You like to play and sculpt and shape and remix and mashup? You like photos and stories and music and art and never ending searches for meaning and beauty and things that give you pause and gratitude and feelings bordering authentic? You feel connected, disconnected, isolated, surrounded, loved, ignored or necessary?

Wanna make some art?

For the last year, I have been taking photographs. For each day of the 365 I have chosen one photo to be the photo of that day. The photos can be found here. Or I suppose if you want, you could flip through them here:

But I want you to do more than just view dear reader. I want you to absorb and internalize, synthesize and make your own–the emotions and ideas that consume you when you find a photo or photos that speak to you. Look for themes or colors or people and — Write a poem. Scribe a song. Create a short film. Write a short story.  A newspaper article. Blend the media and tell the story digitally.

Whatever you do, please link back to this post with a URL of where your creation lives online. Please also add the link to the Flickr photo itself. Perhaps you can also scribble some lines in the comments of the photo, where someone else can take the lines and move them forward or backward to wherever they needs to go.

You can also share this set with your students, your peers, your administrators, your grandmas and grandpas. But, if, however you do not feel artistically up to the challenge, then send me some ideas and I will do it for you. Fill out this form to give me some direction:

If you have any other ideas, please share. I am curious to see where these photos will go, who they will come. I am giddy to see my life told back to me by you, with you through you. Last time we did something like this, we ended up in some interesting places.

So come on…the least you can do is write the first thing that comes to mind on a photo that grabs your attention. Your random dribble thoughts, could ignite a fire some place else.


Everything Means A Lot To Me

This project grew organically from a quick exchange of ideas on Twitter with Paula, John and Ari, and now it may have become the cornerstone of my Learning 2.0 presentation on digital storytelling. I am not only excited about the process to generate this story, but I am also thrilled by the possibility of what something like this might look like in my classroom.

Started like this:

Ari was excited about using #visualwritingprompts. He began to experiment with the form on a blog for his Freshman Comp students. I mentioned that he should take a look at what John has been doing on his blog for #visualwritingprompts. We began to discuss the possibility of students finding their own photos, adding texts and creating their own prompts. Perhaps, one student could find the photo, while another added the prompt and a third student did the actual writing. We then thought maybe a fourth student could Digitize the text. (Create a digital story)

We quickly divided up the roles:

Paula suggested a few photos she had taken herself. John chose this one:

He added the prompt:

To which Ari added the text:

Finally, I digitized it:

I used the Cartoonatic app for my phone to record the footage and added simple voice over of  Ari’s text and layered it with Creative Commons music–Feeling Dark (Behind The Mask) by 7OOP3D which I found on CC Mixter.

What’s next:

Paula and I will be starting a new unit soon about societal ideas of what it means to be normal, and we will use this process to help students visualize and critically analyze  aid theme. Here are some skills that I think this a project fosters:

  • Metaphorical thinking
  • Ability to fluctuate between text and imagery
  • Ability to create mood based on text, imagery and digital storytelling
  • Ability to build ideas and construct meaning based on ideas of peers

I am sure there are more. But I will ask you to help ask and answer these questions:

What does this all mean? How does this sort of collaborative interplay between photography, text and digital story telling help student writing? I am not sure, and honestly I have had a crazy day, so I will leave it to you to extrapolate on this project in the comments below.

Final thought– 

Once the process has been completed, perhaps the participants can switch roles. So someone else adds a new prompt to the same picture, or another member writes the text, and yet another person creates a new digi-story?

What do you think Paula, John and Ari? Want to switch this up? Who is doing what? That means you too reader. Take the photo, change the prompt, write a text based on the existing one, make a different digi-story–join the party.


Giddy Enthusiasm

Sometimes things are happening in your class that keep you excited at all hours of the day. You see kids fully engaged during class time, and BIG AND- they are participating in an ongoing month long project outside of class as well. You watch as pieces of this project come trickling in at all ours of the night, on weekends, during other classes. You know you are not meddling and teaching too much; you can feel your scaffold strengthening as the students produce content that exceeds what you thought they were capable of.

I am engulfed in such a unit! It is wonderful. It has little to do with tech really, but the tech knowledge, skills and tools we have in place are making everything run smoothly. When people ask me how I use technology in my classroom, I am always a bit stumped. I use it the same way I do in my everyday life- to gather, create, share, capture life around me with a community of people.

In grades six, seven and ten we are in the middle of a viewing text unit. Grade six is watching How To Train Your Dragon, grade seven is watching E.T. and grade ten is watching The Wall. We began by discussing the idea of reading a film.  After deconstructing each respective film, we looked at various types of shots. Last week we moved onto looking at scenes as shots and students have begun to create their own 8-12 minute films.

It was at this point when I realized that we needed a quick detour into photography. I wanted the kids to realize the similarities between basic photography concepts and film making. After a quick lesson on how to take Great Shots, we began our Daily Shoot! This experience is what has me so excited. Over the weekend I was in Hong Kong for a conference, but I was thrilled to see at least 80% of my students participating in the exercise. They would go to this page, find the prompt, take their pic and post (with tags and titles) to their appropriate page.

Some highlights:

I am hoping that they will see that shots like these will make great openings to their video scenes. We have already discussed music and camera movement to heighten suspense and creating mood.

The Posterous gallery has been great as it teaches them how to sort and tag their pics, and it allows everyone to see what everyone else is doing.

Giddy is the best word to describe how I feel about this unit so far. Giddy and proud and excited and …..well seems like there are many words. But, what does the tech look like? How can I teach other teachers to do this? Not sure. We are using iMovie, Keynote, Posterous, cameras, blogs. We are filming, shootings, tagging, writing, drawing. It is hard to know where the tech starts or stops. It is hard to know if this is Art, English, or Film. We are simply caught up in a storm of creating. Unaware of where we will end up, we use whatever tools we need, we learn skills as they become necessary and hopefully we will have some pretty amazing films to share, but if not…if the films are only mediocre, we already know we have learned so much. And that is all that really counts.


Stain What You Find

Last time I did this, some amazing things occurred. It was January 31st, 2011 and I had just finished my first 31 days of a 365 Daily Shoot- an exercise where you try to take a photograph everyday for a year.  I was following “assignments” from The Daily Shoot (a now defunct website) and was quite pleased with my pics. I shared a quick post on my blog about the fact that I had finished my first month.

A few days later, Zac Chase told me that he had shared my pics with one of his English classes. The next week resulted in a somersault of poetry and music across continents. You can read about the events here and here. If you didn’t read about this story last year, I recommend you take a few minutes and read through the posts and comments.  It was a truly inspirational week of cool free flowing organic events.

Which brings me to this post. January 31st! Last time I only made it 94 days and lost the thread. I was working with a DSLR l and now I am almost strictly working on my iPhone. I have sworn that this year will be different. I will do my best to make it all 365…sorry 366 days of 2012.

Take a look at the shots and meet me on the other side for a little reflection on the process of daily photography in general and this batch in particular.

Is it obvious that is has been raining here in Jakarta. The images do not lie. It has been grey and wet this January. But as you can see the days are highlighted with color and light as well. Once more, I am in love with this batch of photos. I wish I had time to take a few of the photos and expand them into a more auditory experience. I invite you to take these photos and add your meaning and experience to them, as Zac’s class did last year. Let’s see if anything comes of them this time around.

The Process:

We do not tell stories through images. The images tell our stories on their own. When collected and batched and examined,  we can see patterns and narratives of our lives which we usually pass us by when we are busy with the act of actually living.  By documenting at least one photograph everyday, we can look back and notice the thread of who we were by what we saw and what we chose to capture.

In addition to the dissection of our lives after the fact, taking a daily photograph has helped me look more closely at my life as I am living it. Take today for example. It was nearly 3:00 pm and I realized that I hadn’t looked closely enough at my day as it was passing me by. I took a break from rubric writing and forced myself out into our campus. I strolled about simply looking. Examining and looking for something interesting, something beautiful to capture. Here is what I found:

cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by Intrepid Flame

cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by Intrepid Flame

cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by Intrepid Flame

I was thinking about starting some kind of daily photo assignment with my students. I think they will find value in being able to document their lives in Flickr sets. They will appreciate the downtime to wander around campus learning how to “look” at the world. Need to think more about this. Any ideas? What to do something collaborative?

If you are not trying a dailyshoot I highly recommend giving it a try. I thought that not having the structure of The Daily Shoot would prove challenging, but I am enjoying he freedom to snap at will and sort through what I have for the pic at the end of the day. In other news, I have been trying to keep an eye on The Daily Create over at DS106.

Creativity is not some romantic magical muse that only a few people can access. Creativity is the ability to fully immerse yourself in the essence of life and stain what you find with pieces of your self. The only thing you need to do to be creative is to be alive. Open yourself up to experimentation and see what happens. It may feel silly or not important, but only when you say yes can to every shot will you find the spark you need.

cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by Intrepid Flame


Ban Clip Art

Are you tired of trying to show students and staff why pictures from Creative Commons and Flickr are not only the right thing to use, but also much better for engaging audiences? This came up in class today, so I thought I would quickly share. I saw a student using this:

Then I showed her this:

cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by Captain Kimo – Catching Up!

Enough said! Ban clip art from your classroom.