Saturday, May 30, 2009

I noted in a recent post by Brian Crosby that he has had to move to less laptops in his classroom ... 1:1 no longer. It got me thinking about how digital storytelling can often be collaborative process in the classroom, and not always by choice.

There are many ways in which you can build stories with a class where the contributions are collaborative. It's certainly a valuable approach where you are storyboarding, or wanting to allocate clear roles and responsibilities to members of a group.

It can however, make your end product somewhat more difficult to assess if you're trying to determine individual contributions. Hearing the stories of individual voices can also be important. It can be particularly important where you're looking to hear from those students that find it more comfortable to express themselves emotionally online.

There are a number of ways to ensure that students are all getting a turn contributing individually when there are demands on the resources. Here's just a few.

- Taking turns to contribute to a group story. This can be a wonderful way of getting the entire class involved, but ensuring that you get individual contributions. TDN has an outline for one approach to this, but I've also used Polleverywhere with the class to vote up story snippets with great success.

- Twin narratives. Get students to pair up and take turns writing alternating narrative arcs. Two voices ensures you're hearing from each student clearly. This is particularly effective in a journal format, where responses are being exchanged in the story. For example, pen friends (an old term I know) exchanging emails.

- I've found using online mind mapping tools to write stories a fascinating way to explore story building, as well as revealing a students predisposition for structure. Have one student relay story story elements, and the other build the structure. Linear patterns, star shapes, seemingly disorganised webs and complicated structural creations, you'll find all these and more when you build stories in this way. You'll also find that these stories often seem to denote learning styles ... but I'll let you explore that for yourselves.

Having limited resources available can be challenging when building stories online, particularly if you're looking to see what each student has to contribute. It's possible though, and more than that, you'll find that it will push you to explore more varied forms of storytelling in your classroom.

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