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How to Design Powerful Digital Stories

Grade: 5
Subject Area: Humanities, Digital Storytelling

Two our of Grade 5 teachers are giving a presentation at the upcoming Alberta Social Studies Conference, October 16-18 in Lake Louise, Alberta. This presentation will focus on how to incorporate digital storytelling into the classroom, particularly where teachers want students to focus on understanding multiple perspectives and marginalized groups in history.

When designing the work (in partnership with the Galileo Educational Network) the teachers used an online space called Intelligence Online, designed specifically for the planning of large-scale, inquiry-based projects. One of the benefits of IO is how it creates 'project pages' or publicly accessible websites that contain an overview of the project, as well as specific tasks, handouts, due dates, resources, and assessments. These project pages are designed to communicate the overview of a project to both students and parents.

The 'project pages' for this particular Grade 5 project are given mentioned below, and provide a very detailed account of how the project unfolded for other teachers who might be interested in designing similar work for their students.

The design of this project contained two large pieces. In the first part, our teachers wanted to incorporate a novel study and reading journals into the work. Students began by working through a common piece of literature (Raven's End by Ben Gadd) to build a common understanding of effective journal responses. Students then chose from a list of novels tied to the social studies curriculum, and then began to build their own journal responses.

Students were taught to use paper sticky notes to keep track of important events in their novels. Students then gathered in small groups of students to share their journal responses, and used a shared website (Google Sites) to document the important pieces of their discussions. Students then built a concept map about the novel and its themes and characters.
Finally, students were asked to create a sketch or a significant event, person or idea from the novel.

All of these activities were focused on students uncovering the different perspectives on particular events in Canadian History. To access a more detailed explanation, with resources and handouts, click here.

In the second part of the project, students worked toward the building of an iMovie that explored the different perspectives on a historical event. This second part of the project incorporated research skills, effective question building, rubric building, self-assessment, peer-assessment, parent-assessment, concept-mapping, script writing, and image analysis. To access the more detailed 'project page' for the second stage of the project, click here.

In addition, here's a small part of one of the final historical iMovies created by two of our grade 5 students:

We hope to see you at the Social Studies Conference!

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