Digital Storytelling Reflection

  1. What was the target audience for this story? Which curriculum standards does this align too? How would you use this within your class (e.g., as homework, as part of an assignment)?

The target audience for my digital story is students at the middle school level (sixth through eighth grades) and could be used in any of the three grade levels. Students in these  grade levels are considered Novice language learners based on the proficiency descriptors designed by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL); this means that they have limited ability to use the language for communicative purposes. Since the story uses images and animations to provide visual representations and gestures that correspond with the spoken Spanish (extralinguistic support which helps communicate meaning), this story is ideal for students at the Novice proficiency level. The digital story meets two of the overarching standards outlined in the North Carolina Essential Standards for World Languages: interpretative communication and culture. Interpretative communication occurs when students are presented with language in which they cannot negotiate meaning, this means students cannot ask questions about what they heard/viewed or read. Likewise, students cannot seek further clarification from the speaker or author.  The digital story presents students with the language and the only tools they have to determine meaning is through the use of the visuals and their own knowledge of the language. From the story, students would be identifying word and phrases demonstrating which would demonstrate understanding of the language. The culture standard requires students to identify the “3 P’s” of culture: Products (items), Practices (what individuals of a culture do), and Perspectives (beliefs of a culture). The digital story would introduce students to the Products (el zócalo, the ruins of Teotihuacan, la ofrenda) and the Practices (the observance of Día de los muertos) within the cultural context of México.  In my class, I would use this story in two ways. The first use would be as part of a “flipped” homework assignment where students would watch the video for homework and complete guided notes. Students would then complete in-class activities related to the video the next day. If I was teaching exploratory Spanish, I would create three to four more videos about different Spanish-speaking countries and would have students complete station activities where they would watch each video and complete various assignments related to each video.

2. How do you feel about the story that you created for this assignment? What parts of it do you particularly like? Dislike? Why? What did/do you enjoy about this assignment?

Overall, I did not like the story that I created for this assignment. After viewing the other stories in class, I feel that my story fell flat and was missing details that would have made it feel more like a story. I had a character and a plot line that featured the different stages of the story arc, but the emotionally that drives the story was weak. In my opinion, this made my story appear boring and forced compared to the others. Part of this has to do with the topic I selected. When teaching culture in the language classroom, the goal is to introduce students to the people of that culture and involve them as participants, not observers. Language teachers strive to select videos and images that will allow students to see themselves being a participant in the culture. The images that I selected to use in the story is the element that I like the most. PowToon had an excellent collection of images due to its connection with Flickr that allowed the cultural elements to stand out. The transitions between different scenes of the story and my voice over were my least favorite elements. I struggled to make the transitions seem seamless and flow directly into the next image. The end result was a rushed and forced movement which was not visually appealing. Part of this was due to the voice over. I had to make the voice over fit in the time set for the duration of the image. If the voice over exceeded the time of the image, PowToon added time to the duration which then effected the transitions between images. Of the major assignments we have completed in this course so far, this has been the only one that I did not enjoy and I am disappointment in its quality; I have turned in better quality work than this. I struggled with completing this project due to the creativity it required; I am not a creative individual nor do I enjoy creative projects because I care more about content and accuracy than creativity. It would have been easier for me to write a paper about my topic in APA format than to make it a digital story. This is one area where I know I will struggle as a teacher. In addition to encouraging students to develop their analytical skills, they need experiences to engage in creative thinking and this is skill I do not know how to develop.

3. Did you do your story in a similar way as others? Explain similarities or differences you noticed

When I compare my story to the others from class, I can identify a few similarities. My story along with the others followed the standard story arch format where a character is introduced along with a problem that needs to be solved. The character then begins the journey to solve the problem facing obstacles along the way until finally, the problem is resolved. I also observed that like many other projects, I provided voice over in my story which I believed helped to personalize the story for the students who would watch it. There was an interesting trend that I noticed about everyone’s story: most of them were designed to be used as an instructional tool by the teacher instead of being a student created assignment. Some stories looked like they could have been made by students themselves but overall, most were “teacher quality” with regards to the use of the design elements.  With older elementary level students, middle school students, and high school students, these stories could be created with teacher scaffolding and multiple practice opportunities. There were two notable differences between how I made my story and how the rest of the class made theirs. First, almost everyone featured music in the background of their stories  which added to the flow of the story and the transitions. I tried to find music in Powtoon that I could use,  but there was nothing that would have been appropriate. All of the available music was either rock-based or pop. My video needed music that reflected the culture of México and could not be found in Powtoon and I did not know to locate it as an outside tool. The second difference I observed was that the majority of people used Videoscribe which gave their stories a clean, polished presentation versus the comic book appearance that PowToon gave to certain parts of my story.

4. Now that you have completed this assignment and viewed your classmate’s submissions, what would you do differently if you had to redo the assignment?

If I had to redo this assignment I would several things differently. First, I would have looked at more examples and took notes on the transitions other individuals used, the placement of music, and how they developed their story arc.  Second, I would have added background music to my story because I know that the presence of music would have greatly enhanced the quality of the story versus just the Spanish language voice over. Since this story would have been used in a Spanish class, I would just write text in Spanish with music and eliminate the voice over. The story would still be addressing the interpretive mode of communication and culture, only the focus would change from interpretive listening to interpretive reading. Third, I would change the story arc, I do not know how I would change it but I know it needs to be changed to include more emotion and it needs to be more concise. Finally, I would focus on the editing. The transitions need improvement along with the timing. With the elimination of the voice over, I believe that the timing and transitions would improve and appear more fluid versus the short, choppy movements present in my video.

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