ISTE 1 Project: Digital Storytelling

How to Survive Living Abroad: A How-to Guide

ISTE Standard 1 charges teachers to blend their expertise in content knowledge with creative, collaborative and innovative technological tools. For this project, I worked with another teacher and combined our common experiences living, traveling and studying abroad to create an informational personal narrative. Our target audience were Americans who would be interested in traveling abroad or who enjoy international experiences. Another audience reflected in the personal narrative context would be friends, families, and students who we would enjoy sharing and celebrating our lives and stories with. In a formal educational setting this may be a good example to showcase how students can work together on a project, contribute evenly, and find a common theme to create a consistent narrative story. For a more informal educational setting, using digital storytelling and videos to share creative content that students produce, even if it may be a simple PowerPoint or slideshow, is a great way to build classroom community and for students to see the value in exploring new ways of expressing themselves

At the start of this project I teamed up with a fellow teacher, Stephanie, after finding that we both had common experiences living abroad. Stephanie lived and studied in France while I lived and taught in China. From the beginning we wanted the topic to center around those experience and to share fun and memorable pictures from our time overseas. Once we decided to turn them into a how-to guide, we brainstormed several travel tips, picked the five we felt reflected real-life practicality and also the humor of exploring a new culture, and drafted a script for our presentation. We used Google Drive to work through our script together as well as upload any relevant pictures we had for each of the steps. We also used PowerPoint to create slide images to insert into the presentation as well as searching through FLICKR for a couple photos to convey key points of the story.

Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 3.16.48 PM
Combining photos with audio on iMovie.

Once we compiled the images, we imported them into iMovie, choosing a travel themed template. We recorded our scripted parts through Quicktime and found several French and chinese songs through Jamendo and The Free Music Archive to embellish our own personal photos and maintain a light, humorous sense of adventure. While we selected photos in advance to include in each section, throughout the project we either moved or chose not to include some based on the pacing of our recording and to keep the presentation under 5 minutes. Timing was also an important aspect when combing our narration with our photos. At times we chose certain photos or scripted a pause in order for the audience to notice how our photos represented the meaning of our words or to create a dramatic effect. Once audio was added, each slide was adjusted for timing and transitions were added at the beginning of each step to continue the cohesive travel theme for our narrative.

One of the most challenging aspects of combining multimedia formats into one public project was distinguishing which music sources we could use freely. Under the Creative Commons License, some artists allow their work to be used non-commercially so long as there is proper and correct attribution to the artist, the source, and the creative common license our usage falls under. Through the website search.creativecommons.org and also performing a general google search for websites that have free music under the creative commons license we were able to locate music clips to add to our movie. These websites we searched also included links to the specific creative commons license we needed to cite. While long and convoluted at times, navigating copyrights and properties on the internet where many things are shared and taken without credit helped me to understand the process and sources I can use to access media appropriately for my classroom in the future.

One of the most beneficial lessons I learned from this project is the importance of peer review and learning through collaboration. Having a partner to share ideas, critique photo choices or offer alternative solutions when running into technology issues helped me to refine the movie and also enjoy the time and work spent into creating it. While sharing photos and picking them out I often got the chance to hear more about her background and life which added meaning and depth. Overall, while the project represented a significant investment of time and energy it also represented a celebration of our creativities and humors which we can proudly share with our family, friends, and future students.

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