Digital Storytelling Workshop:

Storytelling in the K-12 Classroom

MICDS Summer Teacher Institute 2009

Presentation Slides

What is Digital Storytelling?

“Digital Storytelling is the modern expression of the ancient art of storytelling. Throughout history, storytelling has been used to share knowledge, wisdom, and values. Stories have taken many different forms. Stories have been adapted to each successive medium that has emerged, from the circle of the campfire to the silver screen, and now the computer screen.”
– The Digital Storytelling Association

A Video Introduction to Digital Storytelling

This video, from The University of Houston's Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling site, provides a great introduction to digital storytelling.

How is Digital Storytelling Relevant to Teaching and Learning?

“In [Roger] Schank’s 1992 book, Tell Me a Story, he suggests that the cyclical process of developing increasingly complex levels of stories that we apply to increasingly sophisticated ways to specific situations is one way to map the human cognitive development process. Stories are the large and small instruments of meaning, of explanation, that we store in our memories.”
– The Digital Storytelling Cookbook

Digital storytelling invokes higher order thinking skills and connects content area knowledge, critical and creative thinking, and metacognition as described in Robert Marzano's Dimensions of Thinking:


Components of a Digital Story

There are four basic components that comprise the creation of a digital story; Elements, Media, Process, and Programs


1. The Seven Elements of Digital Storytelling

The Center for Digital Storytelling has defined seven elements for creating effective and interesting multimedia stories. Constructing a story is not a simple process that follows a recipe or prescribed formula. These elements require consideration for every story and determining the balance each element occupies in the story can take a lot of thinking and re-thinking.

Point of View
What you're trying to convey and from what perspective you'll be telling your story.

Dramatic Question
Desiring something and then acting on that desire.

Emotional Content
Engaging the audience on a personal level so they relate to the story.

It's not only what you say, it's how you say it.

The Soundtrack
Music and effects can bring meaning to images but use sparingly.

Match the media to the message; brevity is the soul of wit.

The rhythm of the piece is what keeps your audience’s interest in the story.

For more information on the Seven Elements, visit the following:

2. Media: Text, Images, Audio, and Video

Images: Original images are preferred when possible, but there is no shortage of images available online. Note that under Fair Use, single works may be used in their entirety, but no more than five images by a single artist or photographer may be used. In addition, from a collection, not more than 15 images or 10 percent (whichever is less) may be used. The following slideshow has more information regarding Creative Commons, Copyright, and Fair Use:

Image Resources:

Audio: Many tools allow for student voice recordings and some have built-in sound tracks. Under Fair Use, students may use 10 percent or 30 seconds (whichever is less) of a musical composition.

Audio Resources:

Video: Again, original video is preferred when possible, but videos for educational use/remixing are available. Students may use 10 percent of 3 minutes (whichever is less) of motion media.

Video Resources:
Internet Archive Free movies, films, and videos
WGBH Sandbox Clips from the WBGH Educational Foundation
Open Video Project Shared digital video collection
Discovery Education Subscription service for video

3. The Process of Digital Storytelling

Write a script: clear instructional goals will facilitate this process
Collect media assets: guide students toward original and CC resources
Create a storyboard: provide students with a template
Draft, revise, and finalize: a rubric can be helpful in revision final product
Publish and share: be clear with the concept of audience

4. Programs

There are hundreds of tools available to make digital stories, ranging in price and ease of use. The key is to select a program that (1) meets the learning objectives of the activity and (2) is age appropriate for your students. The following short list is merely a starting point (see the workshop slideshow and Additional Resources section for more information).

Additional Resources
50+ Tools from Alan Levine
Stories for Change
Storytelling Resources from Meg Ormiston
Storytelling Resources from David Jakes
30+ Places to Find Creative Commons Media