Digital Storytelling in Middle School Humanities

Digital Storytelling in the Classroom

This is my digital story about digital storytelling in my classroom. My advantage in this project was that I taught a digital storytelling elective at my school last year. It was new for me and I did a lot of learning along with my students. Two of the most useful resources for me were Jason Ohler and Alan Levine‘s websites regarding Digital Storytelling. I also learned that the drive behind digital storytelling is developing the story. The digital component is about how the story is delivered. As Jason Ohler emphasizes,

No matter how sophisticated our technology becomes, the future of digital storytelling will involve writing and conventional forms of literacy.

I found my students were happy to run out with a video camera (or even their iPhone) and make a funny, silly video. But the art of telling a story takes a lot of planning and revising and reflecting. Additionally, they need to use critical thinking skills in developing their final digital product. From “7 Things You Should Know About…Digital Storytelling”

Students creating digital stories develop proficiency with multimedia applications, but the deeper impact comes from their thinking critically about effective combinations among audio and visual elements. Each story challenges a student to cull—from personal collections or from other resources—artifacts that meaningfully support the story and to assemble them in a way that achieves the desired effect. In doing so, students develop a discerning eye for online resources, increasing their technology and media literacy.

Given the writing skills and media literacy needed to create a good digital story, this process can be used in any content area.

The project described in this video was quite extensive and involved but we were assessing several benchmarks (Digital Story Project Rubric). The amount of time we spent on this project was worth it because of the results in both academic work and problem-solving skills the students demonstrated.

I have used a very abbreviated digital storytelling process with students using content (i.e. daily life in ancient Greece) and giving them 30 or 40 minutes to write and practice a short skit to teach other students (which we video to share).

The Results
Putting this video together was quite a task since I wanted to be clear about this experience. It was also a huge learning experience for me as I tackled using iMovie after only a few basic experiences with it. (Thank goodness for YouTube tutorials!) So without further a do….


YouTube Preview Image


Project Documents
Digital Story Process Chart
Digital Story Rubric
Visual Portrait of a Story
Story Table

A Few Recommended Resources
Jason Ohler: Digital Storytelling
Alan Levine: 50+ Web 2.0 Ways to Tell a Story
Wes Fryer: Digital Storytelling on a Shoestring
Grazing for Digital Natives: Digital Storytelling
iLearn Technology: 31 of My Favorite Digital Storytelling Sites (grades 3-8) 

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5 Responses to Digital Storytelling in Middle School Humanities

  1. Diana,

    Thank you so much for showing me your digital story. I got side-tracked writing notes because watching the video made me think about ways of making our next 8th grade class project better. It used to be just a written essay about the balance of power (or lack thereof) in the U.S. Now we are going to turn it into a digital story and I am looking forward to seeing how our project turns out. Great job on that project and thanks for sharing.


    • Seth…I’m so glad you found the information useful for your classroom. If you have any questions, please let me know. And I’d love to hear about (and even see) the results from your class.

  2. I learned a lot about digital storytelling from this. I liked how you explained the various skills students were progressing through. Thank you for sharing the links to the supporting resources and rubric. These were very helpful in understanding the breadth and depth of this learning project.

  3. Stephanie Barnes says:

    I appreciate you taking the time to put all of this information together to share. My 7th & 8th grade English students will be doing Digital Storytelling projects this year. The information that you shared will be a great help to me.

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