Wednesday, November 4, 2015

10+ Ways to Get Students Creating CHROMETASTIC Digital Stories!

Digital storytelling is an effective and engaging way for students to use digital media production to show what they know. On November 2nd, #TOSAChat welcomed our second guest moderator Ryan O'Donnell (@creativeedtech) to discuss digital storytelling. TONS of fabulous ideas were shared, way too many for just one blog post, so I decided to start with the great Googley goodness and will follow up with a post all about Digital Storytelling with iPad apps, stay tuned! 

When bombarded with a ton of excellent resources it's important to find a simple & familiar place to start and grow from there, for many that place is Google Apps for Education along with simple chrome extensions already available to us. 

1. YouTube is the first app that comes to mind when discussing making or watching videos. YouTube is chock FULL of amazing resources for us when looking to consume information and is a fabulous platform for creating too! Lisa Highfill (@lhighfill) is an incredible resource when it comes to teaching with YouTube. Get kids familiar with digital storytelling through YouTube. Check out Lisa's amazing site Teaching with YouTube to get some fabulous ideas for ways to use this awesome app in the classroom! To flip our students' role from consumers to creators of digital stories Ari Flewelling (@edtechari) suggests having them use YoutTube editor to create a picture slideshow as an easy introduction to video editing. Check out this Google Support page to learn how simple YouTube editor is to use!

2. As both Scott Padway (@ScottPadway) and Greg Moon (@GMMoon1) pointed out, WeVideo is a very easy to use Video editing program that is compatible with Google Drive! It is a perfect option for use on chromebooks and is available on the Chrome Web Store. You can upload up to 5 min of video publish time for free each month and 2GB of cloud storage. If you are looking for more publishing time or want to purchase multiple accounts WeVideo (@wevideo) offers a special price for educators which you can check out on their pricing page. 

3. Google Slides are an easy way to get students creating digital stories. Josh Harris (@EdTechSpec) recommends adding a chrome extension like Snagit or an app like MoveNote to add narration to slides. Students can use Google Slides to create comic strips and add narration for a fun spin on digital storytelling. Eric Curts (@EricCurts) has a ton of resources on all things Google Slides. Check out his page on Creating Comic Strips with Slides for a sample project, training video and more!

4. Who doesn't remember the fun of reading an awesome Choose Your Own Adventure story? They are engaging to read and take a lot of creativity to write! Both Jody Green (@peerlessgreen) and Ryan O'Donnell (@creativeedtech) gave a shout out to using Google Slides as a way to create a choose your own adventure story. Once again Eric Curts is a go to resource. His Creating Interactive Presentations page includes a help guide, training video and best of all a link to "Dragon Quest" a sample interactive choose your own adventure story using Google Slides. In addition to slides, Google Forms is another great Google Apps tool that can be used to create choose your own adventure stories. Dustin Adams provides a great tutorial on how to use forms for creating a CYOA story if you want to try it out. "The Woods" is a nice example of a CYOA style story using forms.  Ryan also shared a fabulous example of a CYOA story he wrote using Inklewriter "Time of the Spinning Jenny".

5. Students can create digital stories by writing their own magazine using this awesome Google Slides TIME magazine template shared with us by Ryan O'Donnell. You can leave the story to be told with text and images or add narration with the ideas from #3!

6. My Maps is another great Google Apps For Education tool but it isn't the first one that comes to mind when thinking about telling digital stories. Susan Stewart (@TechCoachSusan) knocked it out of the park with her idea to combine My Maps and Screencastify (a screen video recorder) for creating digital stories. My Maps is a great way to incorporate social studies into digital stories. Lisa Highfill (@lhighfill) has a playlist of MyMaps tutorials to get you started. 

7. Google Drawing is like the unsung hero of Google Apps for Education. There are many opportunities for engaging activities including the fabulous ideas from Rachel Marker (@RachelMarker) who suggests having students create a comic strip style drawing to tell a digital story. If students are showing what they know about a story they have read they can insert a text box and provide evidence to support their thoughts about the book. Geri Coats (@GeriCoats) shared an example of a character poster activity that has students combine an image of a character, with a trait, and commentary. Matt Miller (@jmattmiller) recently wrote a post giving a much needed shout out to this underutilized app. Check out 10 Engaging Google Drawing Activities for Students for even more great ideas!

8. Pablo Diaz (@teachingusingtech) recommends using Google Story Builder, an easy to use app that allows students to create digital stories as easily as writing on Google Doc. They can add their own characters and even personalize with music. Google Story Builder is fun and incredibly easy to use that your students can begin using tomorrow!

9. Blogging gets students writing for an authentic audience. Geri Coats (@GeriCoats) suggests using Blogger as place for students to publish their digital stories. Blogger is a great blogging platform because since it is a Google App it has a familiar feel for students who use GAFE tools. has a useful strategy guide for teaching with blogs for students in grades 6-12.

10. Showcasing your students' digital stories is easy to do with Google Sites. Josh Harris (@EdTechSpec) recommends using sites as a place for students to embed their digital stories told using videos, docs, slides and more. Check out Google Sites As a Tool For Student Portfolios from Flipped Education for tons of resources for using sites. 

Check out this awesome Chromebook Digital Presentations Google Doc that Scott Padway (@ScottPadway) shared with us. Once your students are familiar with digital storytelling and are ready for a choice and challenge you can turn them loose and let them pick. He has even included tutorials for the apps! Ben Lausten (@LaustenTeaching) had the brilliant idea to create a collaborative google doc to crowdsource the awesome ideas shared during #TOSAChat. Check out the #TOSAChat on Digital Storytelling doc and add ideas of your own!

A big, HUGE thank you to our guest moderator, Ryan O'Donnell (@creativeedtech) for hosting a fabulous #TOSAChat! Ryan is a Tech TOSA for Rocklin Unified School District in Northern CA. He is a former Social studies teacher trying to help teachers integrate technology in their classrooms. Ryan often shares his awesome at conferences and hosts a podcast with Brian Briggs (@BriBriggs) call Check This Out (@CheckThisOutBR). For more edtech resources and strategies visit his website

#TOSAChat was started by Ben Cogswell (@Cogswell_ben), Joe Young (@Jyoung1219), Kelly Martin (@kmartintahoe) and myself as a way for Teachers On Special Assignment to connect, share and grow together. Check out to view past chats storify links and upcoming questions. You can join us at 8PM PST on Monday nights.

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