Best stories for digital story (re-)telling

Digital storytelling can be for any kind of story, but one application I see a lot in schools is essentially responding to a story by retelling it in a digital form, often with interesting rewriting done by the students. This is carried out using software such as Comic Life or PhotoStory, or sometimes with full video. There’s often the use of clay or puppet animation.

I’ve seen all sorts of stories and media used, such as claymation in a 1st-grade class around The Little Red Hen or in a third grade around The Three Little Pigs. You can see in my blog a post about The Hundred-Mile-An-Hour Dog in a fourth grade.

A teacher asked me whether there were any best stories for this, especially in the context of introducing the technology to other teachers. Other than thinking that stories with distinctive characters and action plots lend themselves well to digital storytelling, I hesitated to recommend any particular stories. But he wanted to have some suggestions of what has worked well, or is likely to work well, in terms of engaging students and making good use of the media.

Do you have any experience with this, or suggestions about his question?

Ching-Chiu Lin, who works in this area, says:

I thought about an article in Art Education that discusses ways that illustrators tell stories in picture books, such as pace of turning the pages and arrangement of images (see below). Instead of seeking exemplary books for teachers to use, another suggestion is to think about the possibilities of transforming/applying these artistic storytelling styles into digital form.

For example, David Wiesner’s Tuesday and Flotsam (style of combination and arrangement of images) may encourage students to write their own unique stories (scripts) based on the same images they view. The use of diagonals and geometric patterns in Gerald McDermott’s Anansi The Spider may be easy for younger students to making their videos by using the collage style animation. Or students can use a story from one book and represent it by borrowing another book’s style.

This line of thinking may help teachers not only thinking about the story itself, but also ways of presentation, learning objectives, and learners’ prior knowledge.

Eubanks, P. (1999). Learning to be a connoisseur of books: Understanding picture books as an art medium. Art Education, 52(6), 38-44.

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