Some of the middle and high school writers I’m working with this year have just begun researching what digital storytelling is and how they might begin crafting their own stories. There are so many different ways to approach this and an abundance of fantastic resources available online for those interested in doing so. Rather than presenting students with one definition of what digital storytelling is or leading them through a distinct set of steps in the creation of one, I’ve invited them to begin defining their purposes as writers and researching what is possible. This is slower. Their process is far less clean than it would be if I were directing them through a series of steps. I think we’re learning more in the process though, and I’ve come to value the importance of taking our time as learners. Quality over quantity. That sort of thing. This applies to the writing process as well as our use of technology tools. I’m not interested in having students produce digital stories at this time. I’m interested in supporting writers in their discovery of purpose. Those whose purposes are best supported by digital storytelling have begun researching the possibilities and making informed decisions. Creation will come later, and when it does, I’m hopeful that the work that emerges will have greater relevance not only for each writer but for the audiences they hope to influence. I’m also hopeful that the research and discovery phase we’re currently in will empower writers in ways that transcend the application of specific tools or elements of craft….I’m hopeful that they will gain critical thinking skills and experience growth in their dispositions as well. Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano shares her expertise with digital storytelling here. I appreciate the way she defines storytelling as a powerful teaching strategy and explores purpose with depth. How do you use story in your teaching and as a learner? How do your students use story in their teaching and learning?

Need support around the nuts and bolts of digital storytelling? She has also made this resource available for free:



  1. Kristin Smith Reply

    “I’m also hopeful that the research and discovery phase we’re currently in will empower writers in ways that transcend the application of specific tools or elements of craft”

    Angela –

    Interesting point about the research and discovery phase that we are in currently …. I assume that “we” includes the adults as we are digital immigrants to a land that our kids have lived in their entire lives …. watching them, I realize they are often much more comfortable with technology than adults are ….

    Interesting also to wonder at what point educators as a whole will recognize the needed pedagogical shift and acknowledge that while we (adults) have content to teach, kids have digital skills for us to learn as well!

    Ideas to ponder ….

    • Actually, I was referring to the kids in Studio–literally. I don’t find that they are much more tech-comfy than we are, really. Sadly, I really think that most of them are less so. I know we’re supposed to assume that all kids are “digital natives” because many people seem to be saying it, but on the ground in my reality, it just doesn’t seem to be the case. I think that given greater opportunity, it could be and for some, it absolutely is. But for the most part, it still seems to be teachers holding all the keys there. Some choose to lock up the equipment with those keys…and others choose to open up the cabinets and take out tools to assign tasks….”let’s ‘do’ digital storytelling” for instance….but the sort of shift you speak to isn’t happening, and when it does, I think the kids that I know will need plenty of time to mess around, figure things out, and make a lot of mistakes. We can learn a lot about what real learning might look like by watching them do that though : ))

  2. Kristin Smith Reply

    Interestingly, I would agree with you … though technology enhances my creativity as a writer and creator, it is not that way for all (something to remain conscientious of) ….

    Story telling, no matter the medium used for delivery, is used to engage my students’ interests in a topic by enhancing the colors, sights and sounds associated with it! This may include bringing fantastic YA and children’s literature into the classroom and/or creating a digital story that speaks for itself through images and music! We (my teaching team and I) have developed performance based assessments asking students to use a tech application to demonstrate their learning – Showbiz, Glogster, Animoto, etc …. our kids have loved doing these projects. In doing so, we have found that the kids have real life experiences using these apps …

  3. You are fortunate to have such a supportive team and administrators too : )) And your kids are lucky to have you. I always leave feeling a bit more hopeful about the world when I get to see all of you.

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