Monthly Archives: October 2015

Digital Storytelling reflection – Blog post 2

Here’s a link to my final digital storywalk project in Voice Thread:

Voice Thread

My storytelling process was pretty stream lined and didn’t deviate much from what I had originally proposed in the first blog post. I used the same picture that I had originally picked out of my former supervisor taking a group of daycare kids through a Story Walk at the Ashe County Park. While I really liked this picture because it showed the interaction between kids, librarian, and a Story Walk board, I really wish I could have used more than one picture; I would have included another picture showing a close-up of one of the Story Walk panels and a third picture showing an overall shot of all the Story Walk stands. However, I feel like the picture I chose did the best job at showing patron interaction with the project; that was key for me as my audience was intended to be parents, caregivers and teachers, and it’s important for them to see how they’re supposed to interact with the kids and the Story Walk.

I began by writing out my script in sections. I used categories such as “Opener,” “Segway to Story Walks,” and “Tying it back to the EQ” to break my script into parts.  I basically just framed my concern for wanting to find a more modern approach to story times, briefly went over the process of how to create a Story Walk, proposed a new idea for incorporating a digital element, and tied it all back to my essential question in my conclusion. Since I wasn’t talking about some kind of vague librarianship philosophy or personal belief, it seemed rather easy to craft the story with a clear beginning middle, and end.

After writing my script, I then timed myself reading each of the sections and recorded how long it took to read each part. As is typically the case with me, I had written about five minutes’ worth of text. So I then read back over each section I had written and looked for places to tighten the text.  I then rerecorded the entire script in Voice Thread, edited some more and rerecorded until I whittled the text down to exactly 2 minutes. I decided to use Voice Thread initially just because I had already used that program to record an audio tour of a school for another class. While it might have been nice to include music, I felt like that really would have taken away from the narration, plus it was hard enough for me to fit in just the talking. I also would have liked to have zoomed in on the Story Walk; however, I didn’t really have a picture that I felt would have allowed me to clearly zoom in.

Just for fun, I also decided to experiment with We Video. It reminded me a lot of a different software I used called Camtasia to create a database online tutorial for my reference instruction class last year. It seemed to have more sophisticated features that allowed you to cut and splice together segments of video, audio, and images to create a more customized presentation with the ability to fade and incorporate other special effects. I liked this system okay, but was unable to figure out how to turn off the video portion of the webcam to be able to record only my voice. Even when I tried to place the image layer over top of the video/audio layer, the picture of myself in the video was slightly wider than the photo I had selected to use. The only thing I could figure to do was to hold my finger over the webcam as I recorded myself talking so that the video would just show a black screen and the audio could still be heard. That way the Story Walk image would be framed by a black screen instead of seeing fringes of myself on video peeking out from behind the image.

I decided to use the Voice Thread presentation as my final product; I was most pleased with the professionalism of this digital tool. Once I had the narration to the right length, I practiced recording it a couple times to make sure everything was said with the right inflection. As mentioned, about the only thing I would do differently going forward would be to include more pictures if possible as it’s really hard to explain my idea using only words and one picture.  But overall I was pleased with pretty much the entire process and end product; digital storytelling with a single image seemed to be pretty easy and straight forward.

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Digital Storytelling storyboard and practice drafts

Here’s a link to a trial run of my digital story telling video in We Video:

We Video

The formatting is a bit wonky, but here’s my Storyboard (formerly a Publisher document) based on the picture below:

storywalk

Opener

Time: 25 seconds

Segway to Story Walks

Time: 16 seconds

Explaining Story Walks -possibly zoom in?

Time: 20 seconds

Recently, I’ve been wondering a lot about what a 21st century story time at a public library should look like. Reading stories, dancing to silly songs and playing with puppets is fine, but after awhile it can   become a bit stale.   Is there a way to incorporate technology in story times? Is there a way for me to become less of a leader and more of a facilitator in my story time programs? Reimagining a 21st century story time led me to think of the project you see here—an early literacy  StoryWalk.  Last year, I was involved in the creation of 24 StoryWalks, which were placed at the Ashe County Park in West Jefferson.   Story Walks are basically deconstructed picture books that are mounted in parks and other outdoor areas as a way to encourage young children and their caregivers to get exercise while reading. Each page of the story is posted several feet apart with an early literacy tip and activity prompt .  Caregivers and their children ages birth to five walk to each page until they’ve read the entire book 
Modifying the idea for Story Walks

Time: 25 seconds

Making it digital

Time: 20 seconds

Tying it back to the EQ

Time: 15 seconds

Personally, I love being out in nature. Professionally, as  a children’s librarian it would be wonderful to create Story Walks  to use at a public library for toddler or preschool story times . As a school media specialist, I would be especially interested in creating a Story Walk using a juvenile nonfiction book. For instance, if the fourth graders were studying outer space, the students could help me research and create a StoryWalk all about space. I really like the idea of using augmented reality to enhance these Story Walks. Students could hold an ipad over each page of the Story Walk, which would then link to an image or video related to the information presented .  For instance, a space Story Walk could link to a interactive model of the planets. A toddler Story Walk could link to a digital flannel board about colors or shapes. So all of this brings me back to my EQ— ‘How can I synthesize digital tools and hands-on learning to create engaging children’s programming in school and public libraries?  Digital Story Walks in nature would be a wonderful way to accomplish this task.

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Digital storytelling blog post #1

For my digital storytelling project, I was interested in exploring ways to breathe life into traditional children’s story time programs to better connect with a 21st century audience. This project will partially address my Essential Question ‘How can I synthesize digital tools and hands-on learning to create engaging children’s programming in school and public libraries?’. Currently, I work at the Davidson and Cornelius public libraries as a senior children’s library assistant and am responsible for presenting weekly story times to toddlers and preschoolers. While I have a lot of fun leading these story times and building fun programs around different themes each week, I’m beginning to feel like the format is becoming a little stale. How many times can you take the same old children’s songs (Hokey Pokey, If you’re happy and you know it, etc.), set them to new words (Dino Pokey, If you’re hoppy and you know it, etc.) without eventually going crazy? How many peek-a-boo books are really out there before you find that you’re reading the same books over and over?

What I came to realize is that, as a story time presenter, I’m often limited by the resources I have available to use and the space I have available to present my program. We have limited funds, so we can’t constantly be buying new musical instruments, books, puppets, and other props to wow my audiences each week. And the space we hold the program in is only so big, yet it seems like the story time crowd keeps getting larger and larger, so that doesn’t give a lot of room for any kind of high energy innovative program.

The other big concern I’d been struggling with is that, while it seems like parents and kids are pleased with the programs I’ve been offering, we really don’t have any story time program specific for school age kids that could be a bit more hands-on and digitally stimulating.

For my digital storytelling project, I’ve decided to focus on showcasing a potential school age story time that uses a unique format, gets kids active and outside, and incorporates digital elements. I’ll call this school age story time a digital StoryWalk. A StoryWalk is a project that was launched in Vermont and has since been implemented at public libraries all across the country as a way to encourage early literacy skills in ages birth to five while also motivating kids and their parents to get outside and exercise while reading. I took the lead in implementing a StoryWalk grant at my former library, Ashe County Public Library, through which I created 24 StoryWalks to be shared among five libraries.

Traditionally, StoryWalks are a children’s picture book that is deconstructed, page by page. Each page is pasted to large sheets of poster paper; below each picture book page there is a literacy tip and activity prompt (count the number of dogs you see on this page, sing a favorite nursery rhyme, etc.) that ties into the story on the page and promotes an early literacy skill (read, sing, play, write, etc.). Each page is then laminated and placed on a mounted stake. The stakes are then placed 4 to 5 yards apart throughout a field, along a sidewalk, or throughout the woods. The idea is that the child and their parent will start at the first stake, read the title page and acompanying literacy tip and activity prompt, and then walk to the next stake to continue the story. By the time they’ve completed the entire picture book, they’ve also completed many early literacy activities and walked at least a half mile.

Here’s a picture of what our StoryWalks looked like at the Ashe County Park with a participating daycare. This will be the photo I use in my project.

storywalk

My idea is to use this same concept, but for a slightly different demographic (school age) that incorporates a digital component (augmented reality). The StoryWalk could feature an older, more sophisticated picture book (ie. Pete the Cat, Stellaluna, etc.) or perhaps the pages from an intriguing juvenile nonfiction book about an interesting topic (outer space, volcanoes, dinosaurs, etc.). Instead of reading a literacy tip and completing an early literacy activity prompt, the children could use some kind of smart phone device owned by the library to experience some kind of augmented reality presentation that is pulled off the page. For instance, maybe a keyboard starts playing the song mentioned in the story or a 3D model of the solar system provides children with a more in-depth understanding of the planets the story is referencing. Not only would students still get a workout from walking through the StoryWalk, but they would also get an up close and personal digital encounter with the subject matter they’re reading about through augmented reality. Urban areas could post these StoryWalks along park pathways while elementary school media centers could post StoryWalks around the perimeter of the school just as rural areas have done.

The audience for my digital storytelling presentation will be parents and teachers as I try to convince them of all the benefits to creating a digital StoryWalk for school age children. The intent of the presentation is to expose caregivers and teachers to the idea in the hopes that they become more willing to adopt this project in their own school or community neighborhood.

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Digital storytelling example analysis

Definitely saw a wide variety of ways to approach digital storytelling through these examples. It really made it clear to me how important it is to determine not only your topic and central message, but also the mood and tone you want to convey through the use of music, images, and narration.

For instance, this video about the garden project is a strong example of how music choice affects the mood and message in this project. The first minute of the video includes quite somber music as it talks about how nasty and unhealthy the current school cafeteria options are. Then, the music becomes much more lively and upbeat when the narrator begins talking about the students’ idea to start a community garden. So the music helped conveyed the message in this video that healthy eating starts with sustainable practices, not processed food.

community garden

Other videos, such as this one about a woman’s family member’s summer camp experience, doesn’t use any music, leaving much more to the imagination and forcing the viewer to really focus in on the words and the expressions of the people in the one still photograph to help paint a picture of what life must have been like.

camp family

While I really thought the New York Times archival digital story was pretty cool, there was far too much multimedia going on for my liking. It was really neat how the archival photos and historic drawings served as the primary media here; however, I thought the added layers where you could click on images that further explained subplots surrounding the main storyline, really interrupted the flow of the main story. Some of these subplot images also contained voice over narration, which really confused you as to which storyline you were focusing on.

I found most of the videos created through the Center for Digital Storytelling to be focused on very heavy, serious topics. As such, the music was more sombering, the images were dreary, and the voice narration became a bit monotone in places. I did, however, really like this particular video, “Tears in Every Step,” about a person dancing and how her dancing really conveyed her feelings about what was going on in her life. What I liked so much about it was how it used one background image of the narrator’s feet dancing on the street, which was constantly being overlaid by still images that illustrated the points she was making about her life in the narration. I thought this was a really strong example of how all the elements of digital storytelling can work together effectively to convey the appropriate message, tone, and mood. 

dancing feet

I also really loved “My Write to Draw” from the Center for Digital Storytelling, not only because it was one of the more upbeat videos, but because it really did a good job of capturing the young narrator’s voice and personal experience with how he views drawing as an alternative to writing and a form of creative expression.

write to draw

I really, really liked the student created book trailers. They were all short and succinct (usually 1-2 minutes) and really captured the students’ voices and personal interpretations of the stories they chose through the images they used and the audio narration they included. For instance, Diary of a Wimpy Kid Cabin Fever is an excellent example of how the student reinterpreted the cartoon drawings into real life people and places, putting a unique spin on the story and enticing other students to read it.

diary of wimpy kid

I also greatly appreciated the “Hear Me” stories, particularly the videos. There was one video in particular done by second grade students that utilized the students’ own artwork (drawings of transportation) to illustrate their original story about transportation, which was a unique way to incorporate their own work.  Likewise, the Dream Library videos were great examples of using video with narration to enable students to explain what their own idealized dream library would be like. 

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