Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Digital storytelling in first grade

This year, first grade students have learned a new word: narration. Using two applications, Puppet Pals and Doodlecast Pro, first graders have begun to acquire the necessary skills to retell a story, narrate a cartoon in Chinese and to transform their non fiction research projects created on Keynote into a screencast.


Puppals Pals was our first foray into digital storytelling. An introductory lesson in the lab provided students with all the required skills to use Puppet Pals to tell a brief story using a fixed set of characters. We then moved onto the next stage using the skill of retell and the famous story, The Gingerbread Man.

Image files of the five main characters for the Gingerbread were searched and selected. These were then emailed out to all the first grade iPads and Instructional Assistants learned how to add the pictures to the camera roll and imported them into Puppet Pals. Teachers reread the story to the students. Students then took their iPads and retold The Gingerbread Man using Puppet Pals. The following is an example from a first grader in Mrs. Eide's class.

Storytelling and World Languages

Storytelling is a vital learning tool in the World Language program. Doodlecast Pro is a screencast application which can be used to narrate imported Keynotes or PDF files. First graders in  Chinese classes regularly learn language via repetitive patterned stories. Using a story created by a Primary School Chinese teacher, Huali Xiong, we were able to retell the story of Wang Wang the puppy who thinks his reflection in a pond is another dog! Here is an example of a student's retelling of this story in Chinese from Mrs. Derksen's class. Such examples can become important assessment tools for World Language teachers. 

Non Fiction Research: Narrating Keynotes on Doodlecast Pro

In the second semester, first graders learned the non fiction genre. Choosing an animal research project, they created their very own presentations using Keynote on the iPad. This is a far cry from the days when first graders used a complex template in Powerpoint to simply replace pictures and enter text. In addition to creating their own presentations, students were able to export their work to Doodlecast Pro and narrate their presentations. The following is an example from a student in Mrs Coole's class.


Puppet Pals and Doodlecast Pro are just some of the many applications that make digital storytelling in the primary school a reality.  Students can create new stories or narrate presentations. This opens up doors to new possibilities in how first graders learn and share this learning. Students learn an array of new skills creating products with relative ease. The added advantage is that these products can be uploaded and shared via teacher blogs. 

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