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Learn to Blog Like Brenda

I live under the same roof as a budding movie maker. My sixteen-year-old son spends his free time making movies with a camera that is embedded in the screen of his new Apple computer. He films his friends, school projects, the landscape around our home, and from time to time, himself performing mundane activities like thinking, doing homework, maintenance work at the park where he works, and interacting with those around him. Like many of his friends, he willingly spends hours editing, adjusting transmissions, video effects and choosing just the right music to accompany his visual images. What fuels this dedication? These visual compositions provide a place for him to exercise his creative talent and to share whats going on inside him.


* Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling
* Digital Storytelling Finds its Place in the Classroom
* Hidden Stories: A Digital Historical Narrative Project for Middle School Students
* Digital Stories by Students and Teachers

My son is part of a highly visual generation that is redefining communication and more specifically, the art of storytelling. Just as storytelling underwent a change with the advent of the printing press, storytelling is changing once again to accommodate a generation that is focused on moving images and sound. The 19th and 20th century was alive with writers using the power of words to bring their stories to life. Todays storytelling youths have discovered a three-dimensional medium where images and sound merge together to communicate stories, factual information, and everything in between.

As I watch my son absorbed in his work, Ive thought about how this communication tool can be harnessed for the good of learning. How can digital tools like Windows MovieMaker, iMovie or Microsoft Photostory3 be used as a mindtool in the classroom? Can digital storytelling facilitate the development of writing skills and encourage deep inquiry in students? And how do we adjust our instruction and assessment methods to fit this new way of communicating?

Educators like Heidi Bendt and Sherri Bowe are wondering about the same things I am. Through their experimentation with digital storytelling, theyve identified ten sound reasons for implementing storytelling in a high school English program. Its easy to see that the ten points relate to any core subject or grade.

Digital Storytelling

  • Inspires dedication.
  • Encourages creativity to work.
  • Promotes problem solving.
  • Embraces diversity.
  • Captivates attention.
  • Piques interest in writing.
  • Fosters group dynamics.
  • Addresses different learning styles.
  • Creates a positive classroom climate.
  • Incorporates the multiple intelligences.

Perhaps the most notable aspect of digital storytelling is its ability to uncover student voice. Tom Banaszewski, a fourth- and fifth-grade teacher, suggests that that unleashing of student voice communicates a message that "everyone is talented, original, and has something important to say." More than a cheesy logo, these thoughts speak to the need each adolescent has to feel involved and valued.

Who Is Brenda?

Brenda Dyck is a sessional instructor at the University of Alberta, in Edmonton, Alberta (Canada). In addition to teaching preservice teachers, Brenda is the moderator of MiddleTalk, a listserve sponsored by the National Middle School Association (NMSA). Her "HotLinks" column is a regular feature in NMSA's magazine, Middle Ground. Brenda also is a teacher-editor for MidLink magazine.

Author Name: Brenda Dyck
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Updated 06/05/2009