Things I take to class #8: The starting point/s for stories

From my session at the APABAL Convention in Palma, September 10th…

Because it's important that classrooms are creative spaces, and because digital storytelling is magnificent for that, and for generating language, one of the things I like to take to class are the starting points for collaborative, creative writing projects.

The Norah Jones video above would be one example and I showed this similar example with a Bruce Springsteen clip in my APABAL session.

With the Springsteen clip, I suggest watching with the sound off; with Norah Jones, you might find that your learners make more of the story if they listen to the lyrics at the same time.

What is the story in the Norah Jones clip? It isn't entirely clear, is it? But that's fantastic for class discussion; from the discussion you'll get language; and from the language your learners have got the ideas and the basic outline to tell their version of the story.

Apart from videoclips, photographs or newspaper stories or the first line of a story all make great starting points for digital storytelling projects. My experience has always been that learners come to like them, even those who initially say that they hate writing; the "digital" part — sharing and commenting on the finished stories on a blog or Edmodo group — is part of the appeal.

Just don't call the task a "composition", that's all :-)!

Very young learners
With very young learners, including those too young to write, storytelling — with you telling the story and them participating — works so well.

In my APABAL session I suggested using your interactive whiteboard (IWB) to present a backdrop (a photo of a forest for Red Riding Hood, for example) against which a story can be acted out. It's also easy to include sound effects (birds twittering, wolves howling…) on an IWB page.

Even with very young learners, if you get them to do the artwork to accompany the story, and photograph them dressed up to act it out, then a blog is still worth having, even if you end up uploading most of the content to it yourself [>> and best make it a private blog].

Other videoclips suitable for storytelling?
I have a very conservative taste in music (people tell me!). Can anyone suggest similar song clips that "tell stories" and that could be used in a similar way?

10 things I take to class
One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six | Seven | Eight | Nine | Ten

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  1. Kinda crazy but how about this new Dylan song?

  2. Thanks, Don. Certainly kinda crazy as a story, as you say, and I love the voice (I've always been a big Dylan fan) but I wonder how well it would go down with teens? Adults, I can see it working.

  3. Love Norah Jones! This is a bit spooky and there isn't as much in it for class but is it the sequel to the Happy Pills clip? Un beso, K.

  4. Interesting, Kate, thanks for that! It might at least make a nice follow-up. There are some interesting comments on the album here, about it being about "busted-up" stories.

  5. This is one I think you suggested in some workshop I came to: Bob Seger. Yah! Still not sure I actually understand the story there :-)! Un beso, K.

  6. Thanks for reminding me about that one, Kate. Not sure I could "explain" what happens myself, but that's a good thing for class!

  7. Tom,

    Not really a music video but I love this clip

    I am hoping to use it with my class on Friday to talk about 'what would you do if you could do anything/go anywhere'

  8. Oh, wow, Sam! That's just such a cool video!

    I'm not quite sure what I'd do with it in class, but let me think about it.

    That's 4'38", which is quite a lot and one of my doubts is what they're doing while watching…

  9. I was thinking it was quite a long video, I would like to try and incorporate it into a 'what would you do with £20,000/where would you travel'…..kind of a 'what is there were no limits'. Whilst watching itI think they could note things that they see 'animals/destinations/modes of transport' and link together into an ultimate travel experience

  10. What about the one you always suggest, in pairs, one sits with their backs to the video, partner provides running commentary? The old ones are always the best :-)! Un beso, K.

  11. Thanks for the suggestion, Kate. You could do that, though I think that works best either with something a little more bizarre or else with a stronger storyline (the Springsteen clip, for example).

    How about, as they watch, get them to talk to a partner about whether or not (and why) they like the video?

    Always think video works best if they're actively DOING something (like talking!) rather than just passively watching or ticking T/F questions…

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