Digital storytelling

In our Project Technology workshop this week, we shared how to use Photostory (free from Microsoft), and shared a project that our English 3 AP classes are doing relating to the book The Things They Carried


The project was initiated by the English 3AP teachers a few years ago.  Students are given a name from the Vietnam Memorial Wall, and are asked to find information about the individual .  This year in order to create projects that could be shared outside the campus and have more of an authentic audience, students were asked to create a Photostory, Microsoft Producer Project, iMovie, digital movie or Powerpoint about the individual(although we were trying to move most students away from traditional uses of Powerpoint).  

Joel (our computer coordinator) and I created a wiki with directions for the different software students could use and did a presentation for all 15 classes involved.    We tried to emphasize the visual part of the presentation and presentation “zen” since sometimes students overemphasize text and special effects in powerpoint, to the neglect of the visual elegance of their design.  Since these are real people, we wanted to emphasize the appropriateness of the music, tone, and presentation.

Ultimately, each student will post their project on the wiki  so that it will be an online tribute to the soldiers.  So the audience for this project is very real.

Students seemed mostly thrilled to be moving away from powerpoint, and particularly for this project, having “bullet points” fly in about an individual’s life seemed somehow not fitting.

The research part of the project posed some difficulty for the students, because some soldiers had quite a bit of information posted about them online, and some did not.  Students had to be resourceful and learn how to dig for information in local museums, on military history sites, on sites about Vietnam, etc.

So that we would understand what students were experiencing, the teachers, Joel, and I, took a name as well and created a presentation that we shared with the students.  The soldier I selected is Lesley Ayers.  (To see the presentation full screen, right click on the image when it plays and select “full screen.)


I’ve already decided I want to edit mine and tell the story in a different way, so I’m going to keep working on it.  We’ll keep you posted on the project and the students’ results!  For more links to the software used, check out the sidebar on the Vietnam wiki.

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