Digital Storytelling in Gr. 1

Grade 1 has become more and more challenging, both for the students as well as the teachers. Using the workshop model in reading, writing and math asks us to spend an hour in each discipline. That, with all the other core subject areas, there is little time for a review of basic skills like letter formation.

At our school, we have adopted a program called Handwriting Without Tears, a program developed by a group of occupational therapists to help young children develop proper letter formation and legible printing.
This year, I have a wonderful group of students who are amazingly skilled in their core subjects. But for some, it is their handwriting that sometimes can pale in comparison to all their other strengths. Challenges with fine motor skills, pencil grip and “bad habits” have a group of my students struggling to print in a way that records their thinking in legible ways.

With all the demands of time from the core subjects, there is little time for printing practice. As a result, we do about 10-15 minutes once or twice a week. I model for my students proper letter formation and we do some practicing in class. The rest is sent home for homework. In order to help my students and their parents with the handwriting homework, I have put together a short little video that reminds my students where they should start their letters. I coupled a song with screenshots of the different letter formations.

In order to put the movie together, I scanned the pages of the student workbook. I later took screenshots (set1) of different sections of their workbook. I complied these screenshots in a program called Notebook, which is used with our Smart Boards. Notebook allows me to position the screenshots anywhere on the page. I also used Notebook so that I could use this digital workbook with my students in class. Each slide consists of instructions on how to form each letter and lines for practice. I copied the original slides and manually added red dots, using the trackpad on my laptop, to signal where the letter should be started. Then I took screenshots (Set2) and filled in the first stroke of each letter. Once the slides were completed, I took screenshots (Set 3) of each slide and imported them into iMovie. Then, I copied and alternated slides in order to create a flash or blinking effect. I also imported the song we use to teach students to start their letters at the top. I had to crop the song in order to match the length of the visuals. I also “ducked” the end of the song so it fades out naturally, instead of cutting off at full volume where I split the song. Once the “storyboard” was complete, I compressed the set into a Quicktime movie. From start to finish, this took hours and hours of work. I’m sure there is an easier way to do this, but nonetheless, it was a learning experience. I am more comfortable with iMovie and am not afraid of using different technologies to create digital product. I also feel fortunate to have the resources I used at my fingertips, for this was not always the case.

Course Readings:
Towards a Framework for Visual Literacy Learning
Visual Literacy White Paper
Why Digital Storytelling Can Be Anywhere

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~ by Vu Lam on October 11, 2009.

One Response to “Digital Storytelling in Gr. 1”

  1. omGosh…Mr. Vu, This is truly amazing…the song, the content, and the quality. I am proud and inspired by your dedication! Good Work!

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