Digital Storytelling

The Digital Storytelling technique generally requires the production of two-to-five-minute personal essays or memoirs narrated by the writer, the writing in these narratives can be incredibly powerful. They may be composed in a movie editor such as iMovie, or in presentation software such as PowerPoint using still photos or artwork for visuals.

Resources and samples:

  • Digitales – digital storytelling resource site -
  • Digital Clubhouse Network – community based story telling project that is looking for individuals from all age groups and walks of life to share their stories. They offer all of the tools for free to those who what to participate in the community.
  • Telling their stories: Oral history archives project – site contains a collection of digital interviews conducted by high school students.

Preparatory Activity

Find a timer (kitchen, on your cell phone, etc.) and get familiar with how it works. Try timing yourself telling something, anything, possibly a story or anecdote. You will be using it to time your story rehearsals. Your first story should be 5-7 minutes long, preferably no longer. You should be using your timer to learn what 5-7 minutes feels like. Note the difference it makes in your perception of time to be telling a story during 5-7 minutes versus doing other activities.

Critical Thinking Activities

Search the blog for "storytelling" or "story," read through the posts that capture your interest, and come prepared to discuss how blog author Reynold's use of storytelling connects with storytelling in the oral tradition. A research paper on a topic in storytelling of your choosing, 10-15 pages in length. Sources should include scholarly sources that address storytelling as well as 3 or more stories that you analyze, compare, or contrast in the paper. Format will depend on your topic and content.

Applied Activities

Storytelling in Your Daily Life: You communicate with people throughout your day, in various ways. As you do, you invariably draw on stories you know or narrative forms to communicate what you want to say. For this assignment, observe yourself closely for the next few weeks, and then write a short paper about how story telling functions as part of your everyday life. You may choose to frame this as a story of your storytelling self. You may choose to answer some or all of the following questions:

  • Which of these communications do you think of as stories? Why?
  • Under what circumstances are you most likely to use a story or element of narrative to communicate?
  • What kind of storyteller are you: funny, poignant, didactic, or some other kind? What kinds of stories do you tend to tell most?
  • What kinds of storytellers so you know? Who around you tells you stories on a regular basis, and why?
  • In what ways do you strive to be a good listener to the stories of others?
  • When have you learned something memorable from a story? Are there stories (read, heard, told, or all of these) that have stayed with you over time, that you have a long relationship with?

You have 1500 - 2000 words for this assignment, so be succinct ans focus on the most important ways that you see storytelling occurring in your everyday life. You will want to take good "observation notes" on a day-to-day basis so that you can identify patterns ans spend time thinking about the uses of storytelling you encounter. Your paper should be the outcome of this reflection, not the initial reflections itself. Your writing should be making a clear claim or set of claims identifying, describing, and explaining the way you see storytelling functioning as part of your daily life. Grades based on: clarity of writing, clarity of examples of story experiences and brevity of articulation.

Telling Three Stories: 1) Folktale (5-7 minutes); 2) Folktale (5-10 minutes); 3) Folktale, Personal Tale, or Digital Storytelling (5-10 minutes). Each story you tell requires two parts: 1) Written Description -- due one week before telling each of your stories; 2) Oral Performance in class.

Assignment Overview: Each student will find, adapt and tell 3 stories. Prepare for your storytelling by finding stories that fit the above parameters, learning the events in them so that you can tell them spontaneously, and making them your own by adapting the story you find to your own telling style.

We will start with folktales in this class for many reasons, the simplest being that they are from the oral tradition and are therefore stories you can retell in your own words without being in violation of copyright. Folktales have been honed by repeated telling. through eons of oral repetition. The moment at which they were captured in print represents only one of many ways that they have been told orally, and so they are generally amenable to oral adaptation again. Other reasons will be discussed in class. In many cases, choosing to adapt folktales for all three stories is by far the easiest, most productive and most rewarding use of your time.

Tips on Selecting Stories to Tell: Think carefully about your storytelling goals in your story selection. Pick stories you love to think about and love to tell, because that enthusiasm will come through. Also pick stories that will give you telling experiences that you can carry to particular audiences. Think about possible programming and literacy promotion activities that could accompany the stories you choose.