Retelling stories is a common practice in early childhood education. It gives children the opportunity to work on comprehension, verbal language, and many other early literacy skills. When you take retelling stories to the next level with multimedia projects, you enhance the learning even more. Read on to see how my kindergarten students retold Joy Cowley's story Mrs. Wishy-Washy with Photo Story.
During our farm unit, my kindergarten class read Mrs. Wishy-Washy by Joy Cowley. Kids love to retell this wonderful story because of its simple text. I decided to use still photos to retell the story and then have the students put them into Photo Story, which is a free program. If you have not used Photo Story, I urge you to give it a try. It is a simple way to make still photo movies with your students. I invite you to check out an example from my classroom! To view the video in full size, just click on the second to the last icon in the bottom toolbar.
The students worked on this project little by little over the course of a week. The first thing we did was separate into four heterogeneously mixed groups. Then the members of each group selected their role. We needed a photographer, a director, a pig, duck, cow, and Mrs. Wishy-Washy. Having students choose roles is the most important management piece in a multimedia project. All the jobs are important and necessary to make the project work.
After selecting the jobs, we discussed the challenge of retelling this story only using still photos. Students had to really think about the words and decide how they could freeze their bodies to make it look as though they were in the middle of the act. For example, the pig in the story had to be rolling in the mud. The students had to think and work together to get their body into a shape that looked as though they were in the middle of rolling around. The child playing Mrs. Wishy-Washy had to make it look as though she was really scrubbing the animals.
The director helped position each actor and make sure that their frozen action portrayed the text of the page they were working on. Planning out the shots this way promotes higher level thinking more than just acting out the text.
In taking the pictures, remember to let the child who is the photographer actually take the pictures. You may be surprised at the results you get. For instance, the photo below was taken by a boy in my class. He was standing on a chair to get the right view and then he turned the camera. When I asked him why, he said he was getting Mrs. Wishy-Washy to look really mad at the animals in the mud. I think he captured it beautifully.
After taking all of the photos, each group imported their pictures into Photo Story. Once the photos were in, we checked the sequence of the story. This is a great and purposeful way to teach the importance of story sequence.
After we have checked the sequence, the groups were ready to start recording the verbal retelling to accompany their photo retelling. To make this task run smoothly, the students took on roles of the director, the recorder, and the controller. The director made sure that they were ready to record and to do their jobs. The recorder said the words, and the controller clicked Record and Stop on the computer. The groups switched jobs for each page.
After recording their retelling, the students added music to match the movie, titles, and credits. And their movies were finished!
This project was very worthwhile. Not only did my students improve their comprehension, but they learned to work together, be responsible, take pride in their work, speak clearly and fluently, sequence, and so much more.
So as you are planning your next book unit, look for a good story to take your students’ retelling to the next level with a multimedia retelling project. I’d love to hear how you practice retelling stories and about any other multimedia projects you do in your classroom.