digital storytelling

Happy New Year, everyone! I can’t tell you how excited I am to be guest blogging for April. I LOVE her blog and feel blessed she is allowing me to share my passion for technology with her readers!

My name is Jennifer Kimbrell, and I share my thoughts and ideas over on the blog Tech with Jen. I have been in education now for over twenty years, and in that time I have seen a lot of changes. One dramatic change is the ability to be a connected educator and look past the four walls of the classroom. Technology offers the capacity to do just that, but it can be difficult for many to know where to start.

That is how I help; I spend part of my time as a curriculum designer on Teachers Pay Teachers. I enjoy writing units that help give teachers ideas for infusing technology into their lessons. I spend the other part of my time as an educational consultant supporting districts who are interested in going 1:1. I help them with planning the initiative and training teachers. While I do understand how to use technology in the classroom, my true passion lies in teaching students how to read and write and making sure technology isn’t something “extra” but fits into a busy teacher’s existing curriculum.

Which brings me to the subject of my post; sometimes, I find we can get lost in the shiny new app or the technology buzz word of the month. For example, when coding became mainstream, I must admit I wasn’t ready to jump on the bandwagon. I didn’t see the connection it played in the mandatory curriculum. But when I discovered ways that coding aligned perfectly to teaching literacy standards, I was hooked!

 

Making Interactive Storytelling Digital

One way to connect coding to literacy is through interactive or digital storytelling. Interactive storytelling involves combining digital media, such as images, voice, text, etc., to tell a story. Interactive storytelling is nothing new, but when I heard how students were coding to create interactive stories using the app Scratch Jr. and the Scratch website, I knew this was a game changer!

digital storytelling

Scratch on the Web | Scratch Jr. App

For me using Scratch to tell a story kills two birds with one stone. Not only does it allow students opportunities to practice important literacy skills, but coding provides added benefits that are critical for today’s students.

Using Scratch and Scratch Jr. to create interactive stories give ways for students to demonstrate learning, develop critical thinking and problem-solving, as well as use computational skills. Here are a few ideas for creating interactive stories in an already existing curriculum:

  • Analyze characters
  • Summarize stories or text
  • Illustrate the meaning of vocabulary words
  • Research topics to integrate with other subjects
  • Compare themes and topics

Another example I had is to allow students to research historical figures, develop a timeline of their life before starting their project, and then create scenes in Scratch or Scratch Jr. to tell the story. Students choose, draw, or upload backgrounds (scenes) and sprites (characters) that reflect the appropriate information and then animate their story as needed. If you would like to download the freebie I created on Rosa Parks, you may do so by clicking here.

Combine interactive storytelling and coding to teach students critical thinking, problem-solving, and computation while still teaching literacy skills.

Now that you have integration ideas, don’t worry that you don’t know enough about coding. You are not alone. While I work a lot on the computer and have knowledge of how to use all types of software and apps, I must admit I had no idea where to begin. Coding was almost like a foreign language to me, so I am glad I took the time to learn the nuts and bolts of coding basics. But don’t feel like you have to be an expert; your students will figure it out if only given a chance. Learn it together; you’ll be glad you did!

I hope you enjoyed this post and got some value that you can take to your classroom. I’d love to hear from you! One way I like to connect with people is through my Facebook group called Tech with Us. There I have partnered with some of my favorite techie friends, and we have a whole group of educators who collaborate and learn from each other. If you are interested, I hope you will join us!

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