Posts Tagged ‘creativity’

EDTC 6433: Digital Storytelling Project—The House at Windmill Loop: A Story for My Grandchildren

EDTC 6433: Digital Storytelling Project—The House at Windmill Loop: A Story for My Grandchildren

by Laurie James

I made the decision to create a story for my grandchildren to document a very exciting event in our family. In the spring of 2012, my husband, Gary James, and I made the decision to sell our family home after 28 years and through joint ownership with our oldest daughter and her husband, build a new house that would be large enough to accommodate the collective nine members of our combined families.

On January 4, 2013–The same day as the beginning of this class, EDTC 6433, we moved in to our new house at Windmill Loop. I was delighted to learn that for this digital storytelling project, we could select a personal topic, because this opportunity to blend together the tools I am learning to use this course along with the events in my family has proved to be very motivating and timely in helping me to document a major event. My grandchildren, Gabriel, Haylie, and Makenzie, have been very intrigued and involved in the process along the way as I have been preparing this story over the past several weeks.

Music: My entire family has enjoyed listening to my musical selections which I found in the Sound Cloud portion of the Creative Commons site. Due to our “Celtic” roots, I looked for Celtic music and came across two songs performed by an artist named, James Calmus. The first song is used as the background for the series of photos showing the building of the house and is entitled, A touch of epic: The second section of the video displays photos and a couple of brief video clips taken after we moved in and is set the song entitled: Celtic

Photography: As our house was being built, many photos were taken by, Packy Rieder, the chief sales person in our new Quadrant Homes neighborhood. He regularly posted these encouraging images on Facebook for our family and friends. My digital storytelling project includes Packy Rieder’s photos as well as additional photos taken by both of my daughters, Melissa Butler and Britannia James, and my son-in-law, Michael Butler.

Script: Although I originally planned to narrate throughout the video, selecting my grandchildren as my audience, I made the decision to record a voice-over script at the beginning only. My reasoning was that I did not want to detract from the natural “storyline” provided through the sequence of pictures I selected. I found that as I was in the midst of drafting my project and my grandchildren would watch it with me, they were quick to provide their own narration such as: “There’s a picture of the loft! There’s the kitchen before the refrigerator! Look at the fireplace!” Each time they would hear the music playing, they would run over to me to see what new picture I had added to the project. As they get older, they will develop a better understanding of the building process and be able to reflect on the photos—picking out many more details than what I could have begun to note in a script. I believe that additional narration would actually limit their ability to focus on what will become important to each of them over time.

Ditigal Storytelling tool: At first I was intending to use Movie Maker, because I like the built-in transition features, however, decided instead use WeVideo, due to the multiple tracks feature. I chose the “Classic” background and elected not to play with the additional aspects of transitions, fading, etc. in light of the time it took to upload, sequence, and place nearly 60 photos in the timeline. (Don’t worry, my video is just a bit over 5 minutes long!) My son, Alex James, and son-in-law, Mike, helped me through a couple of technical issues which I subsequently learned may stem from the fact that the WeVideo program is “cloud-based”—creating a bit of the delay factor when dragging and placing images in the timeline. The perfectionistic part of my could have spent even more time than the significant number of hours and days this project took—to refine, edit, and elaborate, however, I will officially declare it “done”, and consider this to be a very positive beginning to what I hope will be many digital stories to come. I must say I am so thankful for what I have learned throughout this digital storytelling project—not only for its application to my work in school with my students, but perhaps even more importantly—for documenting events in the lives of my family members.

As I reflect on ISTE Standard 1   Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity, I believe that this project will indeed continue to impact the individuals who are currently the most important students in my life—my grandchildren. It is certain that as they grow older and enter into formal classrooms, the technologies available to them will be far different than those I have used in this project, however, I believe they will reflect on the process they participated in with me regarding a pivotal time in our lives. With regard to my students in my classroom “away from home”, I will be more ready and able to teach processes, support creative endeavors, and understand their needs as learners.

My link to my digital story:

Our new home: The James and Butler Families--January 2013

Our new home: The James and Butler Families–January 2013



EDTC6433: ISTE1 Creative Connections—Linking students through blogging~

In my initial introduction post for this class I stated, “I feel comfortable with technology”, yet  I am reminded that “comfortable” is a relative term. The truth is, I have grown comfortable with certain technologies–(and at times over the years have been the “go to” person for helping other staff members), however, I realize that my “range” is rather narrow. I am hoping that this course will help me to gain needed skills and confidence.
As a high school special education teacher, I am especially interested in discovering new ways to motivate my students to express their thoughts in writing. Currently, in my Learning Strategies classes, we have limited access to computers, so I have been looking for a method to allow students to easily write from home. I anticipate that  at home, with ample time and a comfortable location, they might be more relaxed and perhaps more creative and reflective. I see this as being a way to promote ISTE Standard 1: Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity

My question is: What resources are available to address individual student needs and draw out student strengths, while also encouraging reflective writing? In the midst of the readings this week and discussions with colleagues at school, I learned of a resource called Schoology. This is a free online tool that allows teachers to create an online, interactive classroom in which connections with students (and even other educators) can be easily facilitated. Most exciting to me is the feature which allows you to customize and differentiate instruction for students within the same course.

Another reason I selected this resource to share is because three of the most “techie” teachers at my school (one teaches history and the other science) have begun to use this tool with their students. My thinking is that I might be more likely to use it with the added support of others—especially when it comes to any potential “glitches”. Additionally, some of my students also have these other teachers—so using the tool with multiple teachers might increase familiarity all around.

In Digital Storytelling: A Powerful Technology Tool for the 21st Century, one of our readings for this week, author Bernard Robin conveys the important role that digital stories can increase student comprehension through “integrating visual images with written text” (p. 222). In another article , Learning, Teaching & Scholarship in the Digital Age, the author noted that  for high school students in particular, opportunities to exchange thoughts in written form via social networks can assist students in working out emotional and interpersonal issues (Greenhow, 2009).

Several colleagues shared wonderful resources promoting digital storytelling, and student blogging, however, one of the most helpful resources for me right now, was shared by one of my “blog buddies” encouraging us to be role models in learning to be creative with technology. The site is:

“Learn it in 5”, and offers short tutorials made for teachers to learn new tools in a very short time.

As I end one module and begin the next, I am anticipating that increased familiarity with new tools will lower my level of stress and bring forth new creativity as I endeavor to do the same for my students. The attached photo of Mount Rainier, I am choosing to share because it creates a sense of calm for me as well as inspires creativity to reflect, write and paint.

Mount Rainier

#ISTE1    #differentiation   #individualized   #writing


Greenhow, C. & Robelia, B. (2009). Learning, Teaching & Scholarship in the Digital Age.Educational Researcher  Vol. 38, No. 4, pp. 246–259. DOI: 10.3102/0013189X09336671

Robin, B. R. (2008). Digital storytelling: A powerful technology tool for the 21st century classroom. Theory into Practice, 47(3), 220-­‐228.