This week I was given the task of creating a sample project for students to base their digital story on. I have asked for students to decide on their favorite book, or a book that they enjoyed and to write a story summary. They are to include story map elements like settings, characters, plot, and use describing words or phrases to recount what they read about. I also wanted them to include images in order to create a multimedia story. I decided to leave out audio as this will be their first time with the Prezi program.I teach fifth grade Language Arts and summarizing with story element development is important at this level of reading. It is mandated that I teach 90 minutes of reading each day. This type of project can take away from one class’s progress through the year’s order of instruction, mainly because I need a computer lab to conduct group instruction. I decided a few things would need to be put in place. I first talked with my principal about the project, talked to the computer lab teacher, and the homeroom teacher to keep everyone well notified of what I was having students do as a Language project. I of course had to create a Prezi for each student, allow them to be invited to be an editor of the project. What this means is that they are given an URL to get to their project, and are invited to work on it. As an ideal situation I would have students that all have computer access at home with their own e-mail accounts and just e-mail them the invitation link. Prezi actually has a function that allows you to “invite an editor”. This can be one or multiple students working on the same project from all different locations. The problem is not all students have computers at home and none have their own e-mail account. Which at this age I think is a good idea. I used my OCPS e-mail account and created a separate project for each student. Then I created a letter, which I had approved by my principal, that had my curriculum page URL and their “invitation” URL. This first week they are to play around with the program, and get past the wow factor so they are ready to create. Prezi is a great help because it give a short tutorial for students to see what they can do with the program. I of course choose one class, instead of all three of my classes just for the sake of managing students and getting used to a facilitator role rather than a direct instructor role.
This week I will meet the students during their computer lab time to go over some specific concepts and directions for them to follow to complete this project. I then will have them use their book pick to tell about the setting, characters and summarize the plot of the story. Their next task after using print to complete the story map is to include graphics. I told students that they can use http://www.images.google.com , or they can draw pictures which I can scan or they can ask for pictures from the book to be scanned for their project so they can insert them to create their multimedia digital story. I have created a curriculum page so that they can easily access these pictures. I will scan them and place them in a folder for them to access. Since scanning takes so long, I can do this at home, and they can work from home in order to increase the accessibility of their project and the material they need to complete it.
My most important goals are to have students work on their story structure skills and to show me that they can express these skills in a new way by creating a digital story. I also think that it is important for them to access the Web and gain a healthy understanding of how to use the Internet for their preparations to be more independent for middle school and beyond. Normally, I have students do the basic pencil and paper story map. This is where they read a short book then fill in the parts for story elements. This will hopefully make them excited to complete tasks like summarizing, plot development and character development. I think as access to work stations or computer becomes available then it will be easier to complete project like this as common practice not just a huge learning experience as it is now. I see that I need to continue to work and practice my facilitating of this type of assignments. I definitely didn’t realize the time it would take to get students set up for this project. But as I continue to facilitate these types of projects I’m sure that I will become better at distributing the needed components students need to be successful. At this stage I feel I am still building the project and after the first run will see the mistakes I need to fix, but also will have a base to work from for the next time I have students complete a Prezi.
I think I could improve by more planning time, and more practicing on my own. I am still finding myself discovering new things to do. I also am finding points of frustration, which take awhile to figure out. Then the light bulb goes on and I have discovered more aspects of Prezi. As for other types of Digital Storytelling ideas, I hope to visit and explore other sites with other programs. It almost seem like I am a commercial for Prezi and it is the best thing out there. As I have learned, especially in this class, there are more things that are undiscovered then things that we have discovered when it comes to Internet resources. Last, for my example for students to view and build upon, I used my favorite book that I read to my son. I hope you enjoy the example.