Using Digital Storytelling
In my previous posts, I have discussed the importance of using constructionism in our daily instruction, especially if we are looking to develop new academic vocabulary. I also discussed the importance of developing visual literacy skills for STEAM learning while creating a playful learning environment in our classrooms.
One excellent way to incorporate all these elements in a lesson is by using storytelling. Storytelling is an essential skill with seemingly unlimited applications and remarkably powerful as a learning tool. The storytelling process mirrors the traditional writing process, encourage critical thinking, develops decisions making skills and promotes collaborative work. It also represents an excellent way for us to assess the understanding of the learning objectives.
In today’s digital world, using storytelling is a favorite classroom tool. Many new apps can help us incorporate digital storytelling into our lessons, but today I would like to focus on the free app: Toontasic 3D.
Toontastic 3D is an app that allows students to create a 3D animation in which they move characters and provide the audio to narrate/explain what it is taking place in their animation. The final product is an animated cartoon in which their characters move, speak, and interact to tell a story.
This app ties perfectly with the ExCEL method (a variation of the 5E model) which I used when I was teaching in the classroom. As teachers, we can Explain new ideas and concepts by creating our animations that will make abstract concepts real and accessible to our students. After that, as part of the Create phase, we can invite the students to design and create their own animations as a demonstration of learning. Finally, students can Elaborate on more complex products that could involve those animations as part of an educational game, a foldable, or a 3D graphic organizer that triggers augmented reality experiences with the also free app HP Reveal.
When planned well, these projects can have a magical effect in facilitating learning and make academic vocabulary y tangible and meaningful.
Tips before using digital storytelling with your students
– Focus the project on the most important ideas, concepts, and processes the students need to learn. You can use my Focus Page to help you in that process.
– Provide your students with the creative freedom they want, but make sure to frame that freedom with the learning objectives and academic vocabulary of the lesson.
– Create a pre-production phase for the project and ask the students to work on a storyboard and a script in which they need to sure the required academic vocabulary of the lesson.
If you need some other ideas on how to incorporate Toontastic 3D into your lesson, you can take a look at the lessons available at the Common Sense Education website.
If you live in Texas and would like to learn how to use Toontastic 3D to encourage students’ use of academic vocabulary, you might be interested in one of two workshops I will be co-facilitating in McAllen and Dallas. For more information, go the page of our workshop Three Steps to Review and Master Academic Vocabulary with ELLs. Thank you!