Digital Storytelling Project

To go directly to my Sway, please click here: Reese and Aunt Key.


Choosing a topic for my digital storytelling project was challenging. I wanted to find a topic that would tell my family a story about me. One of the biggest questions I get from my family is why I am living in the Pacific Northwest, instead of moving closer to family in the Midwest. However, I’ve answered that question multiple times and decided I needed a different story to tell: What brought me to the Pacific Northwest in the first place. Therefore, I decided to tell the story of the bond I have with my niece, and I wanted to share it with my family.

Since this is a personal story, it would not be appropriate for an educational setting, formally or informally. However, I did consider an educational setting when deciding which program to use to tell my story. Since my school is a Microsoft Showcase School, we use a lot of Microsoft programs in our instruction. One of those programs is Microsoft Sway. My third-grade students recently created their own Sway to tell the story of the culture that they created in Social Studies. Since they created the Sway in Technology class, I still didn’t understand how the program is used and how it is displayed. Therefore, I felt it was important that I create my own digital storytelling project using the same application that my students use. Using this program has helped me understand the program better so that I can use it with my students for upcoming projects and assignments.

In regards to ISTE Standard 1 for Teachers, creating this project will help me understand the importance, and the ease, of having my own students use Microsoft Sway for their own projects. The program allows for easy organization of thoughts, text, and photos for students to depict either their own story or an understanding of a unit, and I can use the program as a form of assessment. For example, to assess my student’s understanding of Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Tsunamis, which is the final science unit of the 3rd grade year, I can create a rubric and guidelines for my students to follow to show their understanding of the effect of these natural disasters on Earth. Additionally, the project can help my students learn appropriate digital citizenship through their searches and copyright of information that they would find.

I debated whether using Microsoft Sway was the best program for this project. While it was really important to me to use a program that my students use, it was difficult for me to find out how to add voice narration and a soundtrack—both of which I felt would have been very important to tell my story. However, I was nearing the deadline and realized that Sway hadn’t yet perfected the addition of those two items, and I spoke with the technology teacher at my school, who agreed that adding voice and music just would not be possible with this program. To help me understand how to use Sway, I did numerous online searches that led me to YouTube videos and blog posts about how to create the best digital storytelling project. Most of the resources I found did not talk about a personal story, so I sometimes hesitated with whether or not my story would be the best one to tell. Since it was a personal story, I used only photos that I had taken. However, since I don’t have the computer that has all the images downloaded, I needed to sift through my social media page to find the photos that I needed. It was difficult to look back on those images and moments, but I feel that remembering those emotions that went with the images helped add content and emotion to my story.

The biggest challenge I faced was deciding which story to tell that would be powerful enough for my intended audience: my family. Additionally, understanding the way that Sway was used, and what I could and could not do, was challenging. I played with the images, text, and layout a lot until I found something that I liked.

The most significant things I learned from completing this project was the ease of which projects such as this could be created. I enjoy scrapbooking my photos and stories of life, but the task can sometimes be overwhelmingly expensive and time-consuming. Digital storytelling tells a story that can easily be shared and created. With my students, creating this project helped me get over the fears I have of using this project in my classroom. My colleagues have used Sways, and the Early Learning teachers use the program as a form of report cards to tell the story of learning for parents and families. I have hesitated to use it because I view it as just one more thing to learn and do with my students. However, I am now excited to use the program and possibly assign a digital storytelling project with my students in the near future.


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