Article: From Sharing Time to Showtime! Valuing Diverse Venues for Storytelling in Technology-Rich Classrooms
Author: Paige D. Ware, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Literacy and Language Acquisition, SMU
Journal: Language Arts, 84 (1), Sept. 2006, pp. 45-54.
The author does a case-study of two nine-year old children and their reaction to the multi-modal resources available to them in their quest to be storytellers. This case study takes place in a low-income community in a large northern California urban area. The children were part of a group of kids in a technology-rich summer literacy class called (DUSTY), Digital Underground Storytelling for Youth. They tell stories and have the option to create multimodal movies. The two students both enjoy story-telling, but have different perspectives on using technology as a part of their story-telling experience.
The students in this program had access to laptop computers, internet, scanners, digital cameras, digital recorders and a voice capture studio. They created handwritten stories and then could add images, music, movement, and voiceover. The author found that most of the stories taken to the multimodal level were those that were of high interest or performance tellability, as opposed to those of everyday tellability. She cautions us, as educators, not to place value judgments on whether stories are single or multiple authored, or on whether they are about high-interest or everyday subjects.
In the first case study, Inma is a student who is very much at home with converting her written story into video (NETS*S 1. Creativity and Innovation). She is confident in her abilities as a single storyteller. She often helps her peers and volunteer college students with the software programs (NETS*S 6. Technology Operations and Concepts) and troubleshooting. “When asked to think about how a multimodal story might change her written story, she focused on the need to use images thoughtfully and to record her voice with emotion and intonation (Ware, 2006)” (NETS*S 4. Critical Thinking, Problem-Solving, and Decision Making). She spends time on each image, using Photoshop to add details and text. Inma demonstrates NETS*S 5. Digital Citizenship, every time she carefully crafts her written story into a video from which she wants her peers to pick up interesting details. She also helps her peers with technology in an encouraging way.
In the second case study, Miguel is a student who prefers sharing tellership of the story with his peers. When his teacher encourages him to add details, or revise, he instead enlists his peers to contribute to the story verbally. Possibly because of his limited exposure to computers, or his preference for reading, he is more comfortable letting the volunteer put together his video, while he continues to tell stories. His stories are often about everyday topics for which he had a variety of ways to hold his audience’s attention. He is typical of the type of student who might present a challenge for educators incorporating video making into the literacy curriculum.
Though I had hoped, and still do, to find more articles on the use of video by teachers and students, I felt that this article was worth reading. I found it useful, interesting and relevant to consider how different students might react to the use of technology. We (educators) often assume that students will gravitate to technology, but this is not always the case. When students are hesitant with technology, it is our job to investigate why this may be happening. (NETS*T 2c. Customize and personalize learning activities to address students’ diverse learning styles, working strategies, and abilities using digital tools and resources. ) We may need to simply do more modeling (NETS*T 3d.) and promotion (NETS*T 4b. Address diverse needs by using learner-centered strategies). We may need to tweak the video project, by giving it more of a collaborative flavor for the student who prefers this to solo video projects. Personally, I think I would have students do a technology inventory, just like I would have them do a reading inventory. I would have them reflect on questions about technology, their interactions with it and feelings about it, so that I could prepare lessons which would take these preferences into account.