Kervin and Mantei (2017) defined digital stories as multimodal narrative pictures/videos created by students. They used digital stories as a tool to capture the stories of 4-5-year-old children throughout the first year of formal school and provided step-by-step descriptions of what they did and how they generated insights of the collected data. For example, they chose the theme “This Is Me” and asked 42 children to create their own digital stories by selecting and taking photos of 10 activities they enjoyed in the first year of school and described each picture in their selection. The researchers then edited the images and audio into individual videos of each child using iMovie and shared them with peers and parents. In their methodological case analysis, they discovered the types of indoor and outdoor activities children enjoyed in the school enviroment, such as dress-ups, block building, jigsaw puzzles, reading, writing, riding bikes, and various playground games (Kervin and Mantei, 2017).
Kervin and Mantei (2017) believed that digital stories are powerful in children’s self-expressions as we can see how children learn and respond to the world around them. Children not only share their own stories and opinions with others but also learn more about each other. When I was teaching Kindergarten last year, the first inquiry project I did with my students was focused on the theme “All About Me”. I asked parents to help their child create a poster with some pictures (e.g., photos, drawing, stickers, etc.) and simple words to describe their favorite things and personal experiences such as hobbies and sports. I assigned each child a day to present his/her poster. All of my students were highly engaged in this fun activity, and we learned so much about each other! I videotaped their presentations and shared them on FreshGrade. I received positive feedbacks from both parents and students. Children love to share, and it is a great way to build friendships and community in the classroom.
Kervin and Mantei (2017) pointed out that the methodology of making digital stories with children is time consuming. This is also one of my biggest challenges as an educator. The inquiry project “All About Me” I did last year was not time intensive as the students did it at home with their parents. However, our “Puppet Project” was completely a different case. Similar to Kervin and Mantei’s (2017) research, I asked my students to take a picture of the puppet they made and record their puppet stories using ChatterPix app. I was only able to record one student at a time, so it took at least an hour to record 22 students’ personal stories. Perhaps I can ask some parent volunteers to help me next time.
Apart from using digital stories as a tool to documenting young children’s personal responses to their school environment, it was interesting to see how the researchers analyzed the data. I have done many inquiry projects using digital stories to capture children’s learning in the past few years, but I have never summarized or analyzed these documentations. This is something I will explore in the near future.
Kervin, L., & Mantei, J. (2017). Digital Storytelling: Capturing the Stories of Children in Transition to Their First Year of Formal Schooling. doi: 10.4135/9781473950184