The lesson sequence that I am working on for the New Technologies, New Stories project will see students working toward a Digital Storytelling assessment to explore ideas about what makes a good story. In particular they will be focussing on how images and audio elements can be combined to enhance meaning in narrative.
Aimed at Stage 5 (years 9 and 10) this lesson sequence will see students analysing a range of fiction and non-fiction narrative texts to devise a set of class criteria for a ‘good story’. In my year 8 unit on Newspapers I teach students the criteria for ‘newsworthiness‘, but it occurred to me that I don’t teach any similar guidelines for ‘story-worthiness’. I wanted to design lessons that got students thinking about how to craft a story that is engaging to readers, and to demonstrate narrative skill across a range of modes.
Key Learning Ideas:
1. Writing stories that are more than a recount of events.
I often find that in Stage 5 students have learned a range of skills for building an effective narrative – they are well versed in character development and imagery, for example – but are still missing that ‘knack’ for writing a story that engages readers (and avoids clichés and stereotypes). In particular I have found my students struggle to move from narratives that describe a sequence of events to using symbolic and figurative representations in their work.
2. Using voice, image and written text to create narrative.
When making Digital Stories with Year 9 for the first time last year, I was struck that most either chose poor images to reflect their story, or lost any sense of story because the chosen images weren’t used to build a narrative. This was surprising – it hadn’t occurred to me that their choices in written imagery weren’t dull because of their writing, but because of their poor choice of imagery to reflect or contrast with the story. I’m hoping that asking students to focus on building a narrative using a range of modes will help them to focus on the meaning and ‘flow’ of their stories, not just the technical skills and tools required to tell them.
Before (and while) students begin composing their own digital stories, they will be engaging with a range of texts to explore the question ‘what makes a good story’. To do this we will be:
- Reading the novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon
- Reading a range of picture books, including Fox and The Wolves in the Walls
- Watching a range of Digital Stories from the DigiTales website
- Watching my all time favourite TED Talk by David Griffin Photography connects us with the world
…I’d love to hear of any more suggestions for stories I could use with the students. As you can see I am lacking some good non-fiction and poetry texts.
Students will make their own 2-3 minute Digital Story.
They must nominate 2-3 of the class developed criteria for ‘story-worthiness’ to showcase, and they will be peer assessed on how well they meet the nominated criteria.
Possible addition – Students transform their digital story into written form and write a reflection on the different language skills/tools needed to create the same narrative in different modes. Written stories could be stored on a class wiki, with digital versions uploaded as well.
#1 by Troy on March 27, 2009 - 5:16 am
Yep, very very interesting!! Two things that are sooo important:
Writing stories that are more than a recount of events.
Using voice, image and written text to create narrative. I agree with the poor selection of images, in my past experience I’ve had the same minor problem. Is it a time issue or a creative one? Your idea to frame the story telling around the novel and picture books will come some way to solving this…Are you going to create your own digistory and allow the students to suggest reasons for ’story-worthiness’?
Picture books: The Arrival, the lack of written text might start some interesting discussion. Of course, anything by Shaun Tan will work. Woolves in the citee as well. ((I’d like to use Walter the farting dog, but just because I like it doesn’t mean everyone will! I think that might be for young uns’!))
#2 by Prue Greene on March 30, 2009 - 3:18 pm
I think you could use Inanimate Alice as an example because its an original story written for the internet.
I particularly like that the students will upload their stories to the net – it will act to broaden the audience for their work and provide a very nice model for other teachers around the state.
Your point about poor choice of images is interesting because it means that they can’t work with imagery in either mode (if I read you correctly). Of course what we are talking about is higher order thinking skills and their ability to think in abstract terms and make connections between ideas – a good opportunity for some explicit teaching here.
#3 by Vicki on March 30, 2009 - 7:24 pm
Just letting you know I’ve dropped by and read – it looks great.
And so does the blog!