Digital Storytelling in the Classroom

“We dream in narrative, daydream in narrative, remember, anticipate, hope, despair, believe, doubt, plan, revise, criticize, construct, gossip, learn, hate and love by narrative.” – Barbara Hardy

We all have stories to tell. Whether they are fact or fiction; we all have a tale to share.
Storytelling is an essential part of learning. In fact, it is the oldest form of education.

People have used storytelling to pass on knowledge from generation to generation. This has been done through folklore, parables, myths, legends and quotes of wisdom.

I’m sure you know one or two from your parents, grandparents or their friends.

You’ve probably told your children or your students a few as well.

Similar to how learning happens outside of the classroom as well as inside it, storytelling needs to happen inside of it and not only outside.

Research has shown stories are the way our brain stores information. Therefore if a teacher fills their students’ brain with information without anything to connect those pieces of information together then it becomes like a “catchall closet into which items are tossed and hopelessly lost.”

Stories are at the very heart of our existence. Storytelling will help you teach and engage your students in a much more creative and effective way.


Digital Storytelling as a creative tool in the classroom

Now let’s talk about the different types of storytelling – digital and traditional.

Digital storytelling can be defined as using multimedia tools to tell stories. Whether it’s the use of images, video, animation or audio, once it adds to the telling of your story, it is considered digital storytelling.

Traditional storytelling on the other hand is telling a tale.

Students now live in a digital age and are used to digital technologies. This can make it hard for some teachers to compete especially when their students’ focus are elsewhere. This is where digital storytelling comes in. It brings them back into the classroom and keeps them there.

Traditional storytelling is good. But digital storytelling adds more to the experience and adds another aspect to the story.
One of the beauties of digital storytelling is its flexibility.

It’s like play dough.

It can be used to create something which ranges from horrific to absolutely adorable. Its use is determined by its creator and its can take different forms. It can be something funny, horrifying or touching.

The possibilities are near endless.

You’ve told countless stories before.

You were born knowing how to do it.

Digital storytelling adds to your process and gives your stories a whole new dimension.


The Benefits of Storytelling in the Classroom

There are a number of benefits to incorporating digital storytelling and storytelling in general in your classroom.

1. It grabs students’ attention – when your pupils hear you say something like “Let me tell you a story…” things change- They become more attentive, quieting themselves and allowing you the floor to share with them this tale they’ve never heard before. It’s the same experience shared by college professor, Sal S. Buffo. Digital storytelling amplifies that experience.

2. It promotes active listening – your students will no longer be hearing you. They will be LISTENING to you. Taking in every word you breathe as if it were their last breath. That’s the power of being a great storyteller. It’s why we get so mesmerized by a great movie, TV show or book. We all love a good story.

3. It creates a sense of community – one of the beauties of traditional and digital storytelling is they’re interactive. You not only share a part of your life and your experiences but you also set up a platform for students to share their experiences as well. Maybe they’ve gone through something similar or know someone who has. This breaks down barriers and form bonds between you and your students where they didn’t exist before. Digital storytelling taken on in the form of group assignments allow for collaboration between students regarding something they share a mutual interest in.

4. Reaching reluctant learners – there are always students who are reluctant. Storytelling can help you reach those students in a way you weren’t able to before. It pulls them out of their own bubble and gives way for them to engage and take part in your class like they never have before.

5. It stimulates imagination and nurtures creativity – storytelling does wonders for imagination. Whether they are listening to your story and picturing themselves in it or creating a story of their own and sharing with you. Storytelling allows students to think creatively and produce wonderful tales and works of art. Creativity is also important for problem solving. Traditional and digital storytelling develop students’ creativity which in turn improves their problem solving skills.


Storytelling Tools for Teachers

We can all tell a tale. Some of us do it better than others. But in this digital age, adding sound effects, video and photos makes a story that much better!

A normal picture with a funny caption, an interesting video or just a weird sound effect when you reach a particular point in your story makes an impact that will last with some people for some time.

This is why it’s important for you to have something to go to when you’re preparing your next story for your next class.


Free Software for Digital Storytelling

Some software for digital storytelling can be costly or require time consuming sign ups.

Phrase.It is an exception. It’s FREE with NO SIGN UPS needed.

Phrase.It is a free speech bubble maker that allows you to add speech bubbles to your images and create your own unique comic strips. It’s a valuable asset when creating your stories.


You can use personal photos you’ve taken or photos you’ve found online, Facebook photos or stock photos to create your own unique comic strips to share.

You can also challenge your students to tell a story, any story using the service. It’s of NO COST and it will allow them to challenge themselves and create something they can be proud of.

Albert Einstein once said “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

Teachers help to prepare their students for the world. You can do that by telling them stories and helping them to use the technology their used to the create their own. Free software for digital storytelling is the perfect tool for that.

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