Slice of Life: Leading a Digital Storytelling Workshop

Slice of Life 2011I spent four hours yesterday with a small group of teachers in our school district who wanted to learn more about digital storytelling. The principal found some money for Professional Development, we negotiated a fair price, and I developed a plan of action for the day, along with multiple resources.

The session went wonderfully well. We were doing hands-on work with Google Search Stories, then into iMovie, and then onto Voicethread. I peppered my work with leading questions around how technology and media are changing our perceptions of composition (and we had a long conversation about how important “design” is in this world). There was laughter, silence, sharing and reflection.

(see some of the Search Stories they created)

Then, one of the teachers asked, “What is this Writing Project I see on some of the books and papers you brought?”

It was an opening I wasn’t quite expecting, but I was ready to explain all about the National Writing Project, and most important, I talked about how the experiences within the NWP prepared me for the kinds of presentations I was doing with them. It was one teacher sharing their knowledge with another, or teachers teaching teachers. It was hands-on activities, followed by reflective pedagogical practice. It was examining what the students might need for learning. It was even about bringing enough food to the session.

(See a voicethread they played around with)

I owe a lot to the Western Massachusetts Writing Project for my ability to lead workshops and PD sessions. My experience there, and the nurturing that I got over the years (I remember Paul Oh inviting me to be his partner at my first National Writing Project Annual Meeting, to talk about advanced summer technology institutes) has profoundly shaped me as a workshop leader. I never would have known I had it in me, to be honest, until someone tapped me on the shoulder (Paul and Bruce Penniman, among others) and said, you should do this. You can do this. The door opened for me and it has remained open since then, and that has forever changed my own perception of myself as an educator.

Whether or not my teaching colleagues from yesterday follow me into the WMWP, they certainly got a taste of what it means to be in a NWP session around writing and technology. They were learning. They were doing. They were reflecting. They were writing.

(You can come view our workshop website and use the resources as needed. The NWP is also about sharing with the world).
digistory screenshot

Peace (in the workshop model),

  1. Teachers teaching teachers…tongue twister that it is…is one of the most important concepts in our profession. We work among great talent but are so often off in our little rooms with our kids that neighbors don’t know what their neighbors can do. Glad you are stepping up and sharing your talent. I have been doing PD for years and love it.

  2. Kevin,
    Love seeing this work. I also wish I could’ve been there. I feel like I have so much to learn, but because of you and all the teachers involved in Voices on the Gulf, I have learned so much and made new friends. I am working with some sixth graders on a voicethread about our town. It has been a valuable experience for them. I hope to get it on the Teche Museum website. Will let you know.
    Thanks again for all your inspiring work,

    • Thanks
      and I love the work your kids are doing.
      We’ve been away from Voices for a stretch but will be getting back soon as we shift into longer essay pieces around a scientific theme.

  3. Every time I read your posts and Bonnie’s posts I feel as though I must be able to find a group of teachers doing what you’re doing here in New Jersey. I feel as though I function in a vacuum – how did you begin your process of branching out and becoming involved in the NWP?

  4. Thanks so much for sharing these resources. I love those google stories. I’m going to try to create my own story and then if it goes well, have my students do it. I’ve been looking at ways to incorporate digital storytelling into the classroom recently. This is perfect timing!! –jee young

  5. Pingback: Digital Storytelling through Google Search | teach to inspire

  6. It must be a very good thing to participate in your workshops. I like what you say about colleagues working together. We empower each other to be the best we can be so that our students can be the best they can be. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Thanks for this post Kevin. An Art teacher friend and I are creating a digital storytelling unit for next year. Our idea is to combine my creative writing students with one of her art classes and create stories. You post today and the links within have given me many great ideas! You are teaching far beyond your school!

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