Telling Stories with Technology
Storytelling is an important skill for kids to develop while they are at school. It’s a soft skill that will help them to think more creatively, give more compelling presentations, and develop greater confidence. There are many engaging digital platforms that you can use in the classroom to stimulate your students’ creativity in innovative ways. We have compiled our top five tools for telling stories with technology:
iMovie, Apple’s free editing software, takes the intimidation out of video-making and editing. Students can import videos filmed on their phones or camera devices and begin editing straight away with the program’s simple interface.
Students can make creative movies, presentations and turn assignments into documentaries. It is easy to edit the clips by adding titles, transitions, music, effects and perform basic colour correction and quality enhancements.
Storybird is a web-based application that allows students to write a story to their own picture books. They have subverted the storytelling process and developed a tool to really get students’ thinking creatively. Storybird host batches of images featuring characters interacting and doing a variety of things – like making a mess when they are eating – for students to put words to.
Storybird is a great way to teach writing skills to younger students and to challenge the creative and storytelling skills of the older ones. The platform is highly visual, easy to use, and has account types specifically made for educators.
iBooks Author is a great example of how the traditional barriers to publishing are being broken down and handed to people in intuitive platforms that promote the production of high-quality content. In fact, Apple believes in the quality of iBooks Author enough to allow people to publish the books they have created in the iBooks store and generate a profit from their work.
However, let’s slow down for a second. What can students do with it? Well, it’s as easy as putting together a PowerPoint presentation. With its simple click-and-drag style functionality, students can turn their reports and assignments into books, create stories, and even create a class textbook to use as a study tool. They can insert pictures, videos, graphics, and embed web widgets to make their books interactive and engaging. They can then share the final product online to create a timeless resource for their classmates.
Action Movie FX
Action Movie FX is something a little more fun, but the iOS app also serves as a case study for how easy making engaging videos has become over the last few years.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most grown-up, responsible men went through a period in their childhood when they dreamed they were the stars in their own action movie, which is exactly what Action Movie FX does. The app uses the iPhone camera to shoot video, which you can then easily add effects like: missiles, tornadoes, lightning strikes, falling rocks and machine gun fire.
So this is one for the older kids, but it is nonetheless an excellent way for students to get comfortable with making videos and have fun with this app.
A standard laptop computer comes with all that is required to make a podcast, barring the need to download a new piece of software. Once you have your microphone and recording program you’re ready to join the audio platform that acts as the radio of the 21st Century. On this versatile medium, students can turn assignments into documentaries and presentations into talk shows. They can even record musical performances or recreate radio dramas and comedies of days gone by. To create podcasts in the classroom, simply:
- Record audio with a cheap microphone (or your computers) into Garageband, which comes with a Mac, or Audacity (an open source audio recording program) if you are using another operating system.
- Edit audio in the program you have used. You don’t have to be a sound engineer and can possess a tin ear for this step. The important thing is using the scissor tool to trim parts of the recording you don’t want to feature.
- If your students are comfortable with these programs they can get creative with music and sound effects which they can search for and download from places like freesound.org.
- Compress the file to an mp3
- Upload the podcast to a class portal – be it a blog, podcast hosting site, or social media channel like SoundCloud.
- Share their creations amongst the class, to other classes or indeed the world!
So, it’s time to get creating in the classroom! Making movies, podcasts, even magazines and books is substantially easier than it has ever been. It’s an excellent way to teach, not only storytelling but vital digital literacy skills as well. You may even inspire a student on the way.