It appears as if summer has finally arrived in the Upper Peninsula
of Michigan and yet, like teachers all over the country I find my thoughts
traveling to my high school English classroom. In June my fellow UPWP colleague
(and best friend) Heather Hollands and I led an Advanced Institute on digital
storytelling. As we began to envision “Digital Storytelling with a Mentor
Text” we discussed how participants would choose an author or text to inspire a
digital story that would serve as a multi-purpose teaching tool that they could
use in their classroom and/or use in a professional development setting.
Before we began creating our stories Heather and I showed a variety of student and teacher generated samples to help give rise to creativity. One digital story that we viewed was one that I created the summer of 2009. I used Tim O'Brien's novel "The Things They Carried" as a foundation as I wove together my father's experiences of being drafted into the Vietnam War and my husband's deployment to Iraq. The story was created to share a piece of my life with my students, but ultimately, my most "important" audience proved to be my father and my husband. It helped me understand the power that digital writing carries and that publishing in the digital sphere helps us to record our voice and vision as a time capsule. I have long believed that writing is a way to chart our personal growth which is why it is such an important tool for teenagers. Creating my own digital story made me realize that the digital stories my students create will be a stage of their learning and growth that will be preserved for long after they leave my classroom.
While I may be a long way from being a master digital storyteller I am in awe of the power the digital medium wields in allowing me to flex my voice. When I created the digital story in 2009 I never imagined that I would still receive emails and messages two years later from people who have encountered the video telling me how it spoke to them. I am honored beyond words when another educator tells me they would like to use my digital story as a teaching tool in their classroom.
I knew that I wanted to use "Romeo and Juliet" as a
mentor text for my latest story but I struggled with my concept for a few months. Though as I approached my 40th birthday I
found myself extremely reflective and I felt compelled to tell a story about my
mother. It was emotional unveiling the story to Mom and she has already shared
it many times on facebook. I am excited to share this piece of who I am with my
students and I am hopeful that it will help them to use literature as lens to
view their own lives. By no means am I wishing summer away (especially since it
has just arrived in my part of the country) but I am excited to return to my
classroom to see what digital masterpieces my students create next!
Here is a post from the Blended Voices blog that Heather and I share that contains my digital story "What My Mother Taught Me about Shakespeare”: #mce_temp_url#
Here is a blog post with my digital story “The Things We Carry”: #mce_temp_url#