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Digital Storytelling in the Early Foreign Language Classroom

04.01.2017

 

 

THE PROJECT

 

Participants

 

The ‘Evangelische Grundschule Karlsruhe‘ - a local primary school - was

selected, a total of 16 learners participated, a mixture of learners of

different ages ranging from 6 to 10, with different language skills (between A1

and A2 according to the Common European Framework of Reference).

 

Realization

 

Starting in December 2014, student teachers (trained on the i-Theatre) and

learners spent six sessions on digital storytelling, which were held once a week

for 1.5 hours. Before any digital storytelling began, all learners participated

in a 1.5-hours introductory session on the i-Theatre. The student teachers

worked with groups of four learners that remained unchanged throughout the

project. In total, there were four groups, each creating a digital story based

on a picture book selected by the student teachers.

 

PROJECT METHODOLOGY

 

1 STORYTELLING

 

2 STORY-PLANNING

 

3 PRE-PRODUCTION

 

4 PRODUCTION

 

5 POST-PRODUCTION

 

6 PERFORMANCE

 

During the first section, the student teachers told stories from picture books.

A story-based methodology structured around the three stages of pre-, while- and

post-telling activities was used, whereas post-telling activities provide

opportunities to make the learners’ work more meaningful, purposeful and

motivating. When working with picture books, this can be done with digital

storytelling as it is a valuable opportunity for learners to engage in authentic

tasks: learners use the foreign language to convey a story to an audience.

 

The second section of each project involved a story-planning session in which

the learners together with the student teachers brainstormed ideas for their

digital stories. Some decided to just retell the stories and others to retell

the stories by adding up an alternative ending. The learners used their ideas to

create story maps sketching out their stories. Once the story maps had been

completed, the learners created scripts that guided their speaking. The next

step was to align media with the stories by using storyboards.

 

In the third section, the learners used their storyboards to create a media

list. After the lists had been created, the learners started to collect all

media needed for the production of their digital stories: text, images and

sound. The text had already been written down in the script, hence all the

learners had to do was to gather images and music. The images used were mostly

drawings out of the picture books but some learners also created their own

drawings. These were digitally cut out with the i-Theatre and stored on the

learners’ personal containers. The sounds used were rather versatile -

everything from vocal narration to (body) percussion was included.

 

Once all media had been collected, the learners started to produce their digital

stories in the fourth section. The learners selected the images they needed from

the personal containers and started to create the different scenes of their

stories, one after another using the scene recording boxes: the learners moved

their images on the touchscreen while, at the same time, they recorded their

narration. Here, visual effects were used, e.g., to repeatedly zoom in part of a

picture to put emphasis on a certain character, figure, object, etc. By then,

all scenes of the digital stories were done, but still in rough form.

 

Next, in the fifth section, the learners watched all scenes once more and most

of them decided to make minor edits, and repeated the process of creating the

scenes until they were satisfied with the outcome. They also added titles and

credits. Later, the learners finalized their digital stories, which were then

exported in a readable format by the student teachers.

 

The culminating step - sixth and final session – was the film premiere in the

school’s library. The learners remarkable work was presented to an audience.

The learners together with the student teachers sent out invitations to peers,

parents and school staff. The decision to include a large audience helped in

expanding the traditional composition created for an audience of ‘the

teacher’. Once everybody had gathered in the school’s library and had been

given some popcorn, the learners were introduced in groups before their digital

stories were finally shown. All digital stories gained much applause from the

audience.

 

Findings resumé

 

Learners found the task of creating a digital story in the foreign language

meaningful and authentic. Furthermore, creating digital stories allowed for the

connection of knowledge across disciplines in the foreign language classroom.

 

The i-Theatre allowed the learners to test out language, reflect on it and edit

it if they were not satisfied, meaning they generated and reflected on language

output, enhanced language skills, practiced language in an expressive manner,

created a product worth to be shown to an audience.

 

zurück zur Übersicht

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