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Tech Integration Tips and Web Links to Increase Your Teacher Nerdiness Levels Today is Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Action! Get the Cameras Rolling with Digital Storytelling


Who doesn’t love a good story?  I love the kind of story that leaves you hanging on every word or the one that brings back feelings of nostalgia.  What makes us remember these stories?  Is it how we personally relate to them or the moment where we know the comic punch line is about to be said?  In any case, stories are how we capture the moment or reflect on how things once were, and with today’s resources students have a wealth of tools available to make them present day archivists.

Today’s post shares resources to help you get started In exploring what digital storytelling is, what web 2.0 tools are available to use, blogs from other Ed-tech folks who are brilliant in digital storytelling, and few ideas to spark your imagination.  Be certain to check out some of the student samples such as SFETT and Oklahoma voices as these are true indications of what can be done with a great story.

What is Digital Storytelling?

Wesley Fryer’s Storychaser Handouts – Wesley Fryer’s expertise in digital storytelling is priceless.  With his resources and project examples, you will be instantly fired up about it.  I admire his passion for capturing and archiving history through digital storytelling.  We all have the ability to be primary resources for future generations.

Storytelling is a Gift – This Thinkfinity article is a short piece explaining why storytelling can be the best gift.  Consider why students should tell their stories.  Are they capturing an historical moment?  Creating something new? Or providing a new perspective on an issue?

PhotoBus – a truly remarkable website over digital storytelling with examples created by the author.  I love the story on his homepage about poly fotos. 

SFETT Student Film Festival – Take a look at some phenomenal student video and flash animation projects.  I usually share several of these with students as ideas of what is possible with video production and what makes a good video. 

Tips to Get Started

10 Things a Digital Storyteller Needs – Ready to get the cameras rolling?  Take a look at this list first to see what equipment you will need.

Keys to Success with Digital Storytelling – Take it from an expert who has been there before.  This tips and lessons help all of us learn how to be better digital storytellers.

Digital Storytelling in Education

Story Ideas

Digital Storytelling Contest – I simply love this telecollaborative project!  Students from around the world where asked to make digital stories describing what life is like in their countries.  The videos were uploaded to this wiki for all project partners to share and learn from one another. 

Storytelling in the Social Studies Classroom – Grade 3-5 Thinkfinity Lesson Plan on storytelling.  Not technically a digital storytelling lesson, but it can easily be intertwined.

Adobe’s Digital School Collection Teacher Resources – The Adobe folks are masters at creating visual software and this list of lesson plans will give you a few ideas for digital storytelling in your classroom along with other wonderful art ideas.

Tell a Story Web 2.0 Tools

50 Ways to Tell a Story – This wonderful resource gives you 50 different software/web 2.0 tools to tell the same story.  It’s an excellent way to explore what is available and which tools are costly vs. free. 

Animoto – I’ve spoken of Animoto many times, and still do find it a great tool for digital storytelling.  There isn’t an easier tool to use for creating a great animated slideshow.  Consider pulling public domain images to create a unit plan introduction or design an activity where students create 30 second shorts. 

Anythings – I recently found this and think it has a lot of possibilities.  Basically, it allows students to create animated comic book shorts.  Sound doesn’t appear to be available, but typing in word bubbles is.  With any hope, this product will take on new features and increase being a great freebie for teachers.

Glogster – Throw that poster board idea out the window and embrace the world of Glogster!  These posters are interactive, colorful, exiting, and completely digital.  Not only is that a green thing to do, but it now offers students the ability to embed photos, audio, video, and hyperlinks into the poster.  Under the education side, teachers can create anonymous student accounts that are secure and teacher moderated. 

Mixbook – Talk about easy and beautiful!  Mixbook will allow students to simply drag and drop digital images into a digital scrapbook.  With their beautiful digital papers and fool proof templates, creating a class book is no problem.  Text can be added to any page and there is no requirement to purchase the hard copy book.  Simply embed the digital book on your class wiki or blog.  Mixbook does offer education accounts.

Pixton  - Comic creators should all be this easy to use.  With Pixton, students can design comic book characters that are virtual marionettes.  Pull the invisible strings at wrists, feet, knees, hips, arms, and head to customize the character’s movement.  No need to make drawing after drawing.  Teachers can create moderated accounts here, as well. 

Voicethread – The multimedia slideshow just became non-linear and personal for every student.  Voicethread allows an entire classroom of students to record their thoughts, voice, and even annotations around images and video.  The possibilities become endless with students writing their own stories, sharing ideas around an historical photo, or reciting a poem.  You name it!  Teachers can create teacher-moderated student accounts under their educational side, but you will need to apply.


What is storyboarding? – This resource is more teacher driven to explain the benefits of storyboarding why it’s crucial to take this step before filming anything.

Free Storyboard Downloads – A free resource of storyboards, but you will need to register in order to download them.

Webspiration – As of this blog post, Webspiration Is a free, web-based version of the award winning Inspiration Software.  The greatest feature of this tool is the ability to collaborate in live time.  Now an entire digital storytelling team and the teacher can work on a storyboard simultaneously.  Students can storyboard in either an outline or diagram format.

Bubbl.us – This is another free mind-mapping software that is easy to use and no registration is required unless you need to save your work.  It’s not as flashy as Webspiration, but you can’t beat the price.

Storyboard example

Celtx – This is open source (aka free) storyboarding software that will need to be downloaded.  Though meant for high end video production, it does have several features that will keep your digital storytelling teams on task.  It is rather complex software, so I’m going to recommend it for grades 8-12 and for Video Production classrooms.

StoryBoard Pro from Atomic Learning – Atomic Learning has provided open-source storyboarding software that is geared for classroom use along with video tutorials to help your students get started.

KidVid – This is a great interactive storyboarding tool for classrooms.  Created by ALTec, those great folks at Kansas University, this software is one of the best storyboarding tools, especially for grades 4-8.

Storyboard Paper PDF Generator – This is an interesting tool that allows the user to customize a storyboard that works best for his team.  Simply choose the paper size and size of squares you wish to use and print.

Digital Storytelling Blogs You Should Investigate

Flickschool – One of the best keynotes I have ever heard was Marco Antonio Torres and how he has developed an outstanding video production classroom. His blog provides tutorials and tips over iMovie, storyboarding, great camera angles, and more.  Be sure to add it to your blogroll.

Speed of Creativity – One of the leading educational tech leaders in digital storytelling, Wesley Fryer’s blog is one to bookmark.  He regularly posts student samples that I know you will instantly look forward to experiencing.

Aberth Digital Storytelling

Enrichment – Other Tools and Ideas

CuePrompter – No more cue card problems!  Cue Prompter is a free tool that allows students to paste in their type written scripts into the site and instantly turn the computer screen into a teleprompter.  I do recommend that one person is dedicated in managing the cue prompter during filming or podcasting as the actors read from the script.

Design Comics – This site features tips on how to draw comic book characters to show expressions of excited, sad, etc.  Students may want to reference this information when using Pixton.

Storytelling and the Arts – This article from Thinkfinity explains what makes a good story and why they are worth sharing.

Tips to Improve Your Storytelling Skills – This information is great for podcasting or video production to help students learn to be more animated while storytelling.

School Tube Lesson Plans on Video Production – SchoolTube has provided a list of lesson ideas to help you and your students get into video production.

posted by

Thanks for all these resources Smoke. They are very much appreciated.

posted by

You're welcome Judy! I'm glad they'll help you out.

posted by


It is good to meet another person who recognizes the power of Story. You have several great resources here. Here is my resource page if you are interested. http://jonorech.wikispaces.com

I do disagree with one point you make. While Animoto is a very slick, flashy tool that creates eye-popping results, it really isn't a suitable tool for Digital Storytelling, in my opinion. I guess the first thing is to define "Digital Storytelling." For many, it has morphed into virtually any movie making, visual and sound project. However, ther term coined by Joe Lambert and the late Dana Atchley refers to a personal sharing experience rooted in narrative. What animoto creates is what Lambert refers to as "Digital Spectacle." The emphasis in animoto is visual effects...not story.

The second thing I question is exactly what kids learn by dumping pictures and music into animoto? Even the intro says, "No two movies WE make are the same." Wouldn't we be better off having kids do the creation?


Here's the thing: I guess it has to do with expectations. If the teacher's goal is to create dazzling visual spectacle, then, yes, animoto is a great choice. However, if the focus is on developing a story with a point, dramatic question, containing emotional content through the fusion of story, carefully-chosen images, voice, and soundtrack, then perhaps another platform might serve better. I use Photostory 3, I have seen great stories done in iMovie, Movie maker, Adobe Premier, Pinnacle Studio, and even Voice thread. The difference is the controll of the student.

I would welcome your response. Either here or email me jorech@csd99.org

I am also jorech on twitter.

Again, greaat resources.

posted by

Hi Jorech!

Thanks for stopping by Making Teachers Nerdy and adding your information and the link to your wonderful resources!

You make an excellent point. I agree with Animoto students do lose the freedom of narration and a real sense of Digital Storytelling, but I believe some photos can tell a story without voiceovers. Wesley Fryer's link to tell a story in 5 images is a great example of that.

I do agree giving students the full control of tools will always make a better product. You are spot on and I thank you for bringing that forward in your comment. That's the power of collaboration - sharing all our ideas and thoughts to make our classrooms better places.

posted by


I love your list of resources as well! I have used some of them and others I'm still exploring. I've been playing around with VoiceThread this week and think it is great for digital storytelling. It is easy and lends itself to all kinds of ideas for students to create stories as well as other types of presentations.

I was wondering what your thoughts are on the use of animations in classroom projects? I saw that you recommended Animoto but was wondering if you'd found any others? I have seen a lot of links to claymation but that's really not a possibility in my classroom (I teach music appreciation to 7th graders). I've been contemplating adding animation or video projects to some of my units. What does anyone else think?


posted by

I love the idea of digital storytelling! You have shared a wealth of information that is beneficial when creating these stories for students to share with others. I agree with "jorech" that the stories should be student created to get a full assessment of the student's understanding. I have not done any digital storytelling but this is something I will definitely look into over the course of summer break to familiarize myself with the information before setting my students loose to create their own stories.

posted by

Awesome resources listed there. I recognize a few of them from the online class I am taking but will certainly have to check out a bunch of the others!!

posted by

Hi Cclark. Check out www.kerpoof.com. Here students can create animated comic like books. That might be a shot in the right direction. As for true animation creators, that would be using an alternative to Adobe Flash, which I haven't come across, yet (but would love to find).

posted by

Welcome Grade2Teacher and Bosskdawg to Making Teachers Nerdy. I'm glad you've found some tools here that will get you moving towards more digital storytelling in your classroom. It's a great deal of fun to do with students, and I hope those creative juices get flowing with some great ideas.

posted by

Thank you so much for all the resources. I feel very supported and it will be so much easier to get started.

posted by

Using Google Presentations for telling a story with different endings is also fun! Google Docs>Create New> From Template> Search Copy of Template Digital Collaborative Story Creation

The template has instructions. It works very well with Middle School Students! It is amazing to se how different the endings can be for the same story!

posted by

Thanks for sharing this, a whole lot of resources, :)
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posted by

Thank you for setting up this site. I have been teaching for 26 years and have had hardly any experience with technology but I am pushing myself to learn by getting my master's degree in Integrating Technology in the Classroom. I want to learn more about story telling digitally so I will be reading and trying to understand what you have here. I am not sure if I can get it up to speed for this year but I definitely want to implement it by the next school year. thanks again for the great references.

posted by

In this new culture the students in my classroom need more than up my funny voices to keep them captured. Thanks for the resources to improve digital storytelling in my room so I can keep my students engaged.

posted by

Substantially, the article is really the freshest on this laudable topic. I fit in with your conclusions and will thirstily look forward to your approaching updates. Saying thanks will not just be sufficient, for the wonderful lucidity in your writing. Thanks for sharing this post.


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