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The Case for Digital Storytelling
in the Classroom

A workshop presented by Wesley A. Fryer
Last updated Sunday, January 15, 2006

Workshop Description

As human beings, we are hardwired for storytelling. The motto of the Center for Digital Storytelling ( is "Listen deeply. Tell stories." Unfortunately, students and teachers in schools today often feel too time-stressed to engage in digital storytelling. Yet these projects can provide ideal opportunities for students to acquire and demonstrate the literacy skills required to thrive in the 21st Century. This workshop provides participants with opportunities to experience both listening and telling digital stories using free software tools. The slogan of Microsoft's PhotoStory 3 software program is "Make show and tell cool again." That is one of our goals today too.

Listen deeply . Tell stories.


  1. What makes a great digital story?
  2. The Case for Digital Storytelling in the Classroom
  3. Worthy Questions about Civil Rights Movement and MLK
  4. Scriptwriting and Storyboarding
  5. Obtaining Images
  6. Using Storytelling Software
  7. Sharing Our Stories
  8. Digital Storytelling Resources
  9. Other Resources

1. What makes a great digital story?


Your assignments for the next 15-20 minutes are to:

  1. Select someone to be your group partner for today's workshop.
  2. Agree on a name for your group. Find out what number your group has been assigned.
  3. View one of the digital stories on “A History of Digital Storytelling Through Story” from the Center for Digital Storytelling. When viewing it, jot down notes about what contributes or detracts from the QUALITY of the story.
  4. With your group partner log onto our class workshop Wikispace by linking to Link to your group's wiki page.
  5. Add your group's name at the top of your Wiki page.
  6. Copy and paste the name and website address (URL) of the digital story you viewed.
  7. Type a bulleted list of notes about "contributors to quality" for the movie you watched.
  8. Be prepared to share your results with others.


  1. View other digital stories and repeat these steps, adding your notes to your group Wiki. Additional examples are available on Bernajean Porter's website DigiTales: Living Memories and the BBC’s “Telling Lives” project.
  2. For help editing and formatting your Wiki page, refer to

Class inspiration brainstorm on "Contributors to Digital Story Quality." (results to be linked/posted here)

2. The Case for Digital Storytelling in the Classroom

Link to the multimedia presentation if you want to follow along on your own computer. Move your mouse to the lower right corner of the presentation to access the navigational menu.

A link to a podcast recording of this part of the workshop will be added later!


3. Worthy Questions about Civil Rights Movement and MLK


  1. Appoint/elect a recorder for your work table.
  2. Talk for approximately five minutes with others at your table about your own memories of the 1960s, the Civil Rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.k or what you have read/learned about previously concerning this era and MLK.
  3. Make a list of names or topics you remember as you talk, and have the recorder write them down.

Use the following graph of Bloom's Taxonomy from Dr. Jay Comeaux's website at LSU for the next set of activities. (Note the assertion about student level and appropriate thinking levels: We'll discuss this!)


  1. With your group partner, brainstorm questions or issues you wonder about, would like to know more about, or would like to educate others about concerning the civil rights movement and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  2. The other group member (who did not type on the Wiki about digital movie quality) should type these questions on your group wiki space on These questions must NOT be at the knowledge/comprehension level of Bloom's taxonomy.
  3. Type at least FIVE different questions that meet this criteria.
  4. Make sure you SAVE edits to your group wiki page.

Together, we will brainstorm a list using Inspiration of possible questions for further investigation and research on the Civil Rights movement and MLK that you can use for the digital story you will create today with your partner.

4. Scriptwriting and Storyboarding

Planning or "storyboarding" your digital story is essential. Bernajean Porter has an example storyboard available on her website. For today's activity you will need to:

  1. Write (type) a short script of your digital story.
  2. Time it. You wanting to create a 2-3 minute digital story, so choose words carefully!
  3. Print your script, and indicate where new photos should be shown. Indicate approximately how many seconds each image should be displayed next to the text on your script.
  4. Copy and paste your final script to your group wiki page.


5. Obtaining Images

A 2-3 minute digital story should use no more than 20-25 images. You certainly may use less.

To save images from an Internet website to your computer:

  1. Make a new folder on your desktop and name it something like "story images" (right click on the desktop and choose NEW - FOLDER)
  2. On a webpage displaying an image you want to view, right click the image and choose SAVE PICTURE AS.
  3. Navigate to the desktop and into the folder you created in step 1.
  4. Change the name of the image to something you can recognize (if desired.)
  5. Save the image.j
  6. Repeat steps 2-5 for additional images.

For our digital stories today relating to the civil rights movement and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the following websites may be helpful in finding suitable images to include:

  1. Seattle Times Photo Gallery of Martin Luther King, Jr.
  2. Time Magazine's Photo Essay on MLK

These search sites may also be helpful:

  1. Free stock images
  2. Flickr Creative Commons search
  3. Google Images
  4. Altavista Image Search
  5. Internet image sources from David Warlick
  6. Other image search sites


6. Using Storytelling Software

Free software is available for students and teachers to create and share digital stories. For Windows users, free PhotoStory 3 software is available. For Macintosh users, iMovie and iPhoto are available in the free iLife suite.

David Jakes has an excellent, 11 page tutorial on Using PhotoStory 3 (PDF) we will use today. The basic steps to using PhotoStory (after you have written your script and obtained possible images to include in your story) are:

  1. Import and arrange your photos.
  2. Remove blackspace and add titles if desired (Ken Burns effect not available for titled images).
  3. Record your narration using your script (voiceover).
  4. Customize motion and transitions.
  5. Add background music.
  6. Save and share.

7. Sharing Our Stories

We will share the digital stories we have worked on with each other during the last phase of our workshop today. Each participant should be ready to discuss and share more information about:

  1. What was most challenging personally during this process.
  2. What may be the greatest challenges in doing this with students in the classroom.
  3. What you learned and/or found the most enjoyable or benficial in this process.
  4. The skills students will learn and/or refine in creating digital stories in the classroom.


8. Digital Storytelling Resources

  1. The Center for Digital Storytelling
  2. BBC’s “Telling Lives” project
  3. David Jakes' Resources for Digital Storytelling
  4. DigiTales: The Art of Telling Stories by Bernajean Porter
  5. Bernajean’s Porter’s 4 phases and 7 steps for digital storytelling
  6. Wesley's social bookmarks on digital storytelling
  7. Wesley's blog posts on digital storytelling
  8. Tutorial on Using PhotoStory 3 by David Jakes (PDF)


9. Other Resources

  1. Tools and Techniques (from this site)
  2. Wesley's Blog:
  3. Moving at the Speed of Creativity podcasts
  4. The George Lucas Educational Foundation:
  5. Creative Commons Search
  6. Yahoo Creative Commons Search
  7. Flickr Creative Commons Photos (click a license type to search)
  8. Free tool for publishing content to the Internet Archive: CCPublisher
  9. Article "Copyright 101 for Educators."



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