Introduction to Electronic Publishing: Start With Story Ideas

Begin Creating Stories With These Motivating Exercises


"A story should be remembered for its soul and not the bells and whistles."- Bernajean Porter, author of DigiTales: The Art of Digital Storytelling

The biggest temptation when creating digital stories with students is to let the technology steal the stage. Make sure when your students begin creating stories that they first take the time to put their ideas down on paper. Have your students begin with a writing prompt, such as the ones in the book 350 Fabulous Writing Prompts or help them choose a topic from their personal experiences to get them started.

Scholastic has several online writing activities that can guide students at various stages and skill levels through the writing process. Check out Writing With Writers for grades 1-8 and Write It for middle school through high school. A great way to teach students fictional writing is to use an old standby from Improvisational Theater - the Story Spine. The Story Spine is a structure that takes a story from beginning to end; it is a marvelous tool to help students learn to advance a story while giving them freedom to be as creative as they wish. Here's a basic form of the Story Spine by Kenn Adams :

Once upon a time....
Every day...
But one day...
Because of that...
Because of that...
Because of that...
Until finally...
Ever since then...
The moral of the story is...


To get students started with creating stories, try an improv style story spine, where each student adds one line to the story. It's lots of fun for them to see how the story ends and gives them all a chance to contribute.

Once their stories are written and edited, you'll want to get them into the computer. If you have access to only a few machines in your classroom, think about making this a center activity for a week. Assigning students to be proofreaders and tech-assistants helps to keep things moving. If your students have computers at home, you might also want to ask parents to help them enter and edit their stories - it's a perfect way to get students and parents talking about their writing in the process!

Next, you'll want to have students create images and illustrations to add to their work. This can be as low tech as having them draw pictures on paper, which are then transferred to the computer using a scanner. No scanner? Try taking a digital photo of each student's art instead. If you have time, encourage students to draw illustrations on the computer or take photographs to add to their stories.

Finally, you'll need to put it all together. Check out these simple directions for creating digital books in iPhoto for Mac users and Picaboo for Windows users.

Opportunities to Differentiate Instruction
Remember, teachers don't need to know everything. Technology is a great way to help students learn to be problem solvers and often puts students of various learning abilities on the same level. Students quickly learn to help each other with software or hardware issues. They will team up when someone needs help with typing, importing photos or brainstorming ideas. Through their interactions, students often bounce ideas off each other and end with an even better final product.

In fact, storytelling with technology makes it easy for students at all levels to succeed. For students who struggle with writing, you might want to allow them the chance to record their oral story using a microphone and a program like Apple's Garageband or the freeware program Audacity. Once their story is recorded, students with stronger writing skills can assist with typing and editing. In this way, struggling writers can focus on the skills of sequencing and vocabulary development while still experiencing the joy of seeing their final product in print.

For students with limited vocabulary skills, think about creating a word bank of better word choices such as a set of synonyms for overused words like "good" or "nice." Mac OS X has a built in Dictionary and Thesaurus that integrates with most programs as does Microsoft's Word. In most Mac OS X programs, simply pressing the keyboard shortcut CTRL-command-D while hovering over a word will instantly bring up a dictionary window. Make use of these tools along with your word processor's Find/Replace feature to have students search out overused words in their writing and replace them with better word choices.

If students have difficulty with seeing, hearing, or fine motor skills, Mac OS X has built in Universal Access tools including VoiceOver which reads everything out loud. On both Mac and PC computers, you can increase the font size or use the "Zoom" option, which helps the print on the screen become larger and easier to read.

 

 

top