Posted by hickstro on 15th May 2007
Before I go on to write my periodic post here, I have to say that I am really impressed with the ABC project as it unfolds and I plan to incorporate — as per Kevin and Bonnie’s suggestion — collaboration as a part of our digital storytelling workshop this summer. Hooray to you all for the great work!
As for me, I spent all day today and will likely spend part of the day tomorrow at my daughter’s preschool, helping all 32 students in the morning and afternoon sections compose a collective digital story in which they reflect on images from their first year in a Chinese immersion program. With the help of the teacher’s aide (who did a great job capturing images all year and then organizing them on a CD into folders for each child), I sat with 31 students today and helped them pick three images, rehearse what they wanted to say about those images, and then record their “story.” As you can imagine, this happened in the span of about five minutes per student and it gave me a renewed appreciation for what I have missed in the classroom over the past few years.
From this, I wanted to think about two aspects of the work: genre and pedagogy.
In terms of genre, I am wondering if what I am doing can — even in the broadest sense — still fall into the category of digital storytelling. The children are composing in the sense that they get to choose the pictures, although even that is not a “choice” in the sense that they were able to take pictures on their own or sort through a large library. Also, I wanted to have them arrange the pictures in the time line in iMovie, but realized that teaching some of them mouse skills to do that task would take way too long. Unlike the writing center model of minimalist tutoring from which I have been raised, I took the mouse and did all the work for them. Are they still storytellers? Did I take over too much of the process even given the logistical constraints?
Then, in terms of pedagogy, the oral composing that they did was largely prompted by me. I asked them to begin by stating their Chinese name and tell what was happening in the three pictures. By default, of course, iMovie plops them in a five seconds a piece. Whether they really wanted to or not, most felt constrained to talk in five second chunks. Even when I explained to one little boy that I could change the length of time for his picture, he continued to talk very quickly for fear that he wouldn’t get everything said! In this sense, I was constrained by time and technology, and I wonder if I took too much of the authorship away from them in the name of efficiency.
That said, I still enjoyed the process and I think that most of the kids would say that they feel the same. This question of pedagogy — what and how much we do with and for students — becomes increasingly magnified when we apply technology to the equation. When a student is using a pencil, it is easy to ask them to write. Yet, for as many times as I try to ask, “Can I borrow your mouse?” when working with secondary or adult learners, today was not a day for that. I made the decision to press ahead quickly.
In so doing, I hope that I didn’t radically alter what I would have hoped the outcomes of this process would be: that students see themselves as beginning digital storytellers.