Into the Curriculum
School Library Monthly/Volume XXVII, Number 7/April 2011
Digital Storytelling: Meeting Standards across the Curriculum in a WWII/Holocaust Unit
by Dea Borneman and Kathy Gibson
Dea Borneman is the Director of Haseltine Library at Greenwood Laboratory School and an assistant professor in the Library Science Dept. at Missouri State University (MSU), Springfield, MO. Dea is also a past president of the Missouri Association of School Librarians. Email: DeaBorneman@MissouriState.edu
Kathy Gibson is the Communication/Media teacher at Greenwood Laboratory School and an assistant professor in the College of Education Dept. at MSU. Email: KGibson@MissouriState.edu
Strengthen your curriculum using digital storytelling by combining digital, visual, and media literacy to enhance broader nontraditional approaches of reading, writing, speaking, and art appreciation. Students can create digital stories using a variety of resources including audio narration, digital graphics, text, music, and/or video clips. Digital storytelling encourages students to think critically about the effective use of audio and visual content. As they create their stories, students gain a greater understanding of online resources and increase their media and visual literacy skills.
Information Literacy/Inquiry Objectives:
Connecting to AASL's Standards for the 21st-Century Learner:
- Demonstrate mastery of technology tools for accessing information and pursuing inquiry (1.1.8).
- Demonstrate creativity by using multiple resources and formats (1.2.3).
- Use technology and other information tools to analyze and organize information (2.1.4).
- Connect understanding to the real world (2.3.1).
- Recognize new knowledge and understanding (2.4.3).
Curriculum (subject area) Objectives:
Students will analyze the causes and consequences of events and place these in the context of the institutions, values, and beliefs of the periods in which they took place.
Students will apply the research methods associated with historical inquiry.
Grade Levels: 7-9
Bartoletti, Susan Campbell. Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler’s Shadow. Scholastic, 2005.
Boyne, John. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas: A Fable. David Fickling Books, 2006.
Fitzgerald, Stephanie. Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass: Igniting the Nazi War Against Jews. Compass Point Books, 2008.
Grossman, Mendel. My Secret Camera: Life in the Lodz Ghetto. Gulliver Books, 2000.
Lowry, Lois. Number the Stars. Random House, 1998.
Wood, Angela. Holocaust: The Events and Their Impact on Real People. DK, 2007.
Yolen, Jane. The Devil's Arithmetic. Penguin, 2004.
Anti-Defamation League: Holocaust. http://www.adl.org/holocaust/
British Pathé. http://www.britishpathe.com/
Contemporary Holocaust Education Foundation. http://www.c-hef.org/
Education Uses for Digital Storytelling. http://digitalstorytelling.coe.uh.edu/
Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies. http://www.library.yale.edu/testimonies/
History Place. http://www.historyplace.com/index.html
Hitler Historical Museum. http://www.hitler.org/
Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team. http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/toc.html
Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust. http://fcit.usf.edu/Holocaust/
United States Holocaust Museum. http://www.ushmm.org/
USC Shoah Foundation Institute. http://college.usc.edu/vhi/
Yad Vashem. http://www.yad-vashem.org.il/index.html
Web Sites with Applications for Digital Storytelling:
Voice Thread. http://voicethread.com/
The communication/media (or social studies) teacher introduces the subject, the overall project, and works with students to apply the technology for the actual storytelling. The school librarian helps the students identify resources for story creation and also works with them to apply the technology for the actual storytelling.
Procedures for Completion:
(Time Frame: 2-4 weeks)
Choosing a Story to Tell
First of all, students need a story to tell. Students find information about a person’s personal experiences in books, online, or through interviews. For example, one group of students looked at the meanings behind a variety of WWII posters. Another group interviewed someone who lived in California at that time and recalled memorizing the shapes of planes in order to identify potential enemy aircraft flying overhead. Working with personal narratives, historical events, and primary sources gives students substance for their stories. Each story should be two to five minutes and focused on a narrowly defined topic.
Writing and Storyboarding
Next, students prepare a written script. This ensures the project has a clear meaning and purpose. An excellent guideline is the "80/20 Rule." Eighty percent of the project involves writing and editing; twenty percent includes applying the technology. The classroom teacher helps students focus and edit their work. Bernajean Porter’s Web site (http://www.digitales.us) has great resources for digital storytelling and includes a download page for sample storyboards.
Exploring Applications and Choosing a Format
Depending upon the project, equipment may include a voice recorder, microphone, digital camera, and a computer with video and sound editing tools. The school librarian can help sort through choices, apply the technology wisely, and ensure students’ stories are clearly told. A variety of free computer applications are available. (See the Resources, above, to explore options before working with students.
Use a rubric to help students critique their work. Students can also constructively critique projects created by other students. It is important that the content, rather than the technology, be the primary focus for the scoring guide. One excellent example of a digital storytelling rubric that can easily be modified to fit individual projects is available through Rubistar (http://www.umass.edu/wmwp/DigitalStorytelling/Rubric%20Assessment.htm). The University of Houston also has an excellent site for digital storytelling (http://digitalstorytelling.coe.uh.edu/index.html). The link on the same site (http://digitalstorytelling.coe.uh.edu/rubrics.html) provides resources for evaluation and scoring with rubrics of several kinds.
Technology alone doesn't tell the stories for the students, but it can provide a way for students to engage others on many different levels. Through the use of these digital tools, students can easily craft polished and enduring stories that can be shared with others far beyond the typical classroom setting. Instead of the teacher as an audience of one, the entire world is now a potential audience for student work.