I do now see the theories and the tools’ applications for education and my own educating. For example, for my Methods of Teaching English course, I had to plan a unit as part of a curriculum for Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, and the standard I address is how the author transforms source material in the given work. I thought long and hard on how to meet the standard objective because the characters in the novel are not exactly quoting Shakespeare—there were not many allusions, nor could I think of any materials that make reference to To Kill a Mockingbird that could constitute a week’s worth of lessons.
My solution was to address various other works that, along with Mockingbird, transform their knowledge of the 1960s, as well as studying influential events and figures that influenced Harper Lee in writing the book.
But who wants to write boring, monotonous lesson plans, right? I wanted to do something unique and to integrate the methods and tools we were learning in order to engage my imaginary students. And last class it hit me: digital storytelling would be the perfect vessel for the students being taught my unit to engage with the time period and literature as well as work on a fun project.
Ironically, we had to write instructions for how we would teach and direct students in making a digital storybook including samples and a photo bank. Multitask, right? Two birds with one stone, right? Well I suppose that my attempt at making my homework work for me did succeed, however, it caused me to think a lot about real life possibilities of technology for educators: taking the theories and tools that we learn and creating real applications.
I could have actually taught that lesson! And I would have been okay with it, which is odd for me. I believe that it takes much for me to be confident in the use of a newly acquired technology: in my eyes there are many things that can go wrong and it is difficult to risk those possibilities when student teachers are being observed, documented, and evaluated. Therefore, for me to admit that I’d be comfortable (not entirely, but comfortable enough to execute it) digital storytelling in a real classroom.
I know that the students would find it fun, and at the level that I teach (12th grade English) it would be easy to amplify the difficulty for older students. The lesson plan I wrote for my Methods of Teaching English course was for 9th grade—another easy adaptation. Digital storytelling: who knew?!