Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Diary of an Animal - Digital Storytelling

I love the "Diary of..." series by Doreen Cronin and knew my first year that I wanted the kids to write their own diary of something.  Last year, my fantastic technology teacher Myrna found a way to combine this project with digital storytelling.  So today, I am excited to unveil our next writing project; Diary of an Animal.  This project focuses on the traits of voice, organization, ideas and presentation.

The process is easy, and not one that I created but simply one I borrowed and then tweaked to fit us.

Build Up:

  • I build excitement by reading aloud "Diary of a Fly" and "Diary of a Spider.'  Most students have seen these books but love hearing them again.  I also put them all out on display for the kids to flip through whenever they want.  
  • After this, it is time to unveil the project.  Kids usually cheer when I tell them about studying a particular animal, and then I show them the final product.  I still have some of my old students' projects and they love to see what they will be making.
  • I also scaffold by reading aloud a couple of example diary entries written by former students and there is always time for questions before we move on.
  • Then it's time to get started, I give the students a couple of minutes to brainstorm a top 3 of animals they would like to study and then we are off to the library!  I encourage students to pick different animals so we learn about as many as possible.
  • Otherwise they may choose whichever one they want to, as long as it is one they are interested in.  They check out books from the library to find their fun facts.
  • The trick with this project is that they have to write their diary as that animal, so instead of a normal research project they really have to understand how that animal works and would think.
  • Students use this sheet to find fun facts that they may use in their final product.
  • Once they have all of the facts needed, and some extra ones, they start on the pre-write.  We have this great graphic organizer for that as well that students may choose to use.
All of this has been taking place during our literacy block up untilnow.  Now we get tech involved.

Tech Piece:
  • Students type all of their entries in keyboarding and then copy and paste it into a storyboard template.
  • For pictures, there are two options:  either draw their own using a drawing program or import them from the internet.  This may also depend on your student, sometimes this can take way too much time.
  • If searching the internet for pictures, students are also taught how to cite the source and put this into their digital story.  
  • When both of the above are completed, students are then shown how to import into Digital Story, add titles, record the story and then put in transitions and music.  
This whole project usually takes a couple of weeks in technology but only about a week and a half in literacy.  The end result is very creative, funny, and something the students love to share with their family.  This is also a great introduction to Digital Storytelling.

In the end we evaluate through peer review and we share these projects with our 1st grade reading buddies as well.


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