Friday, January 16, 2009

Another digital storytelling workshop

I just facilitated another digital storytelling workshop, but this time, the stories were developed by high school students, not teachers. I did a workshop with their teachers last June, and had a few model stories that I could share with the students. In December, I met with the students, and the teachers who had participated in the last workshop plus a few new ones. The students worked in small groups with the teachers to write their stories. During that first day, I did a brief introduction, and showed some examples of digital stories (most of them are posted on my website) while they worked on their stories. I also showed them the two tools we would be using: Audacity and MovieMaker2. Finally, we made individual appointments with many of the students to record their stories on the day before the hands-on workshop.

Last Tuesday, I helped about two-thirds of the students record the audio of their scripts. I used two different methods: Audacity and a headset connected to my Windows laptop (created an AUP Audacity file), and my Sony hand-held digital recorder (created a stereo MP3 file). At the begnning of the workshop on Wednesday, I went through the process they would go through to finish their stories by the end of the day. I showed them how to use the "envelope" command in Audacity so that they could lower the volume of the music that most of them added to their narration, prior to inserting the final audio clip into MovieMaker2. We also set up a white board with the tasks that had to be completed by the end of the day. Most of the students finished an hour ahead of schedule, so that we were able to have our "Showtime" (complete with popcorn) and they could go home early. One of the teachers used the extra time to talk with the students about the process and what they learned. I appreciated some of the comments by a few of the students about how easy the process was (especially combining the audio tracks in Audacity).

Wow! Even though I heard most of the stories as they were being recorded, many of the final products, with the images that they included, were stunning! A few students, including two who brought in their own laptops, did a lot of the work on their own prior to the workshop (they didn't necessarily follow the process, but they did come up with some good products). We are hoping that some of these students will become mentors for this digital storytelling process with their peers. I am also going to write up some lesson plans to use with teachers, to implement this process in 50 minute periods.

I am looking forward to doing more of these workshops with students. I learned as much from them as they did from me. It was another good reality check for me!

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