Storytelling: Path to Deeper Learning

11 May

Telling a story. That, in itself, should be easy to do, yet as I reflect on how I used to teach and how I now facilitate workshops/professional learning opportunities I still need to work on this aspect of my ‘presentation’ time with participants. Today, I attended the Day of Discovery hosted by ECSB and Discovery Education Canada and was immersed in the art of storytelling. From the stories weaved by the DE Team – Porter @DENprincess, Chad @imcguy, Steve @teach42, Dean Shareski @shareski, I was thoroughly impressed with their stories and the importance they placed on them. I also appreciated the introduction via DiscoveryEd Canada CEO as well as ECSB Superintendent Joan Carr, where she challenged us to ‘boost our digital metabolism’ to keep up with our current and future students.


Today, I found out that:

I’m not the smartest person in the room


With the collective wisdom within my department, within the schools that I work with, within the people that I network with throughout the province, the nation and the world, I am certainly NOT the smartest person in the room, BUT I am always excited to SHARE what others are saying on a particular topic of interest. It is this ease of sharing, reflecting, revising, and revamping that is cyclical and allowing teachers to search outside of their schools/the school division for resources, ideas, tools.


With the present influence of the internet via blogging, online publishing, uploading video clips, collaborative work through Google Docs, and even asking questions in cyberspace to virtual strangers, this shift in learning, as Dean Shareski says, is not one of digital content BUT it’s the participatory nature of the learning occurring 24/7 and within and outside the classroom walls. This is exciting, yet can be a little intimidating for teachers. For me, I need to continue to model ways to leverage the many digital opportunities that are available.


Today, I found out that:

With time, I can help teachers differentiate learning for student within DECanada site.


@DENprincess (Porter) gave us a quick and dirty overview of the many options and learning opportunities within the DECanada site. I was really excited to learn that there are over 25 different media available, just click the pull down in the search area to see the variety (and help targeting specific media for your search). Porter also showed how teachers could set up a Writing Prompt with either a video clip/image and turn the instructions into audio using Audiopal. (Great way to differentiate! I am so sharing this with teachers and our Learning Services department.) She also perused the Themed Pages, Student Centre area within DE. And of course, the fun aspect, there are 140+ educational games that encourage students to build on skills and knowledge they are studying upon. Definitely time is needed to work through the many resources available! A very robust and aligned with Alberta curriculum set up done by DE Canada – bravo!


Today, I found out that:

I can be creative with how teachers and students use iPads


I had seen Steve speak at a Google for Educators workshop sponsored by ETCATA last year and knew of his enthusiastic presentation style. He didn’t disappoint and kept the audience engaged for sure! Check out the many resources shared:
Http:// – a great way to establish ONE QR Code and change the info attached to it throughout the year. Keeps students, staff and parents coming back to see what’s been updated/changed.
– The ability to project the screen of an iPad2 and newer can be important in a classroom. Teachers, with IT permission could use, Airserver software wireless via PC or Reflection software thru a Macbook to show on screen with an Apple TV and converter – if your projector is HDMI.
– Getting students interested and engaged in writing can involve the use of many different apps. Steve believes in having a variety of apps with similar outcomes available for students to choose from. He showed a great way to personalize a font via iFontMaker. Steve shared his own font at The app does cost $6.99 so, in my opinion, may be a little pricey for a school, but could be a good opportunity for home use.
– iphone font alphabet
– MobileDE for the iPad has video clips but not all content, useable for teachable moments
– Go to main DECanada website for main stuff
– Use for students to see how their descriptions and drawings can influence an outcome of a story.

– Try the Toontastic app to allow students to build or report on a story using animation.
– Pick the Puppet Pals HD app if students would like to animate a story and add in their own images.
– Check out the Picwall app if you would like to make a collage of images.
– The Comic Life app has students build a cartoon page filled with images, captions to share learning experiences or to tell a story.
– The Appolicious App has different apps listed in categories which are vetted and put together by teachers. Sounds like a great idea that I will need to check out and share with our teachers!
– Apple has it’s own list of educational apps but there is a tricky way to be able to view them. You need to visit and then go into itunes.
– Keynote is a solid presentation tool if you want to solely use an iPad. There are some nuances compared to Microsoft Powerpoint and Prezi but once you learn them, it’s quite easy to use.
– To allow students to add in authentic backgrounds, use the Green Screen Studio $2.99 and other video into iMovie.
– The Roadshow app, allows teachers to collect favorite web videos (non-YouTube) onto an online video shelf.
– Create one QR code to engage students, parents that lasts all year long. Delivr creates a single QR code that can be edited yet the code itself doesn’t change. An original way to create curiosity as participants never know when the information will change so they will visit/click often!


Today, I found out that:

Storytelling Matters

Dean described how new media is influencing how students are learning and living, and how teachers must change and understand the effective ways of using this new media. I was amazed at how creative people can be in sharing stories, in remixing well-known stories, and using infographics to tell a story or share an understanding of a topic.

  • Now I like this type of annual report! a great way to tell a story.
  • A different infographic spin on Red Riding Hood (one to share with staff and even students!). For a way to use or make infographics in class, visit Kathy Schrock’s website.
  • The Dating Game for Rocks was a nice spin for Science 7 class.
  • With DECanada’s 160 000 media assets, teachers and students will certainly be able to choose various images and video clips to remix (a certain % are editable).
  • Flickr CC for creative commons images
  • Google Lit Trips
  • Tell a story in a one second video clip (add all the one second video clips together on one topic to create a story – ideas include: present one color, show metamorphosis of a butterfly, beauty, family).
  • Does text always mean just text? Check out Who’s on First typography clip – neat way to remix text! To see other different and unique ways visit A Way to Teach.
  • Online photo editing made easy with iPiccy.
  • If you want an innovative side-by-side video editing feature for a project, see WeVideo (really like the idea of showcasing the topic “opposites” or “for and against” in this manner).


I appreciated Dean’s connection to the emotional, historical, critical deeper understanding and value of stories. Schools are desperate for stories and with cameras everywhere, audio capabilities of smartphones, we can capture those moments of creativity, originality and growth anytime and easily.
Today, I found out that:

There are always more resources and ideas out there!


At the end of the Day of Discovery, a Smackdown sharing of DECanada resources, Educational tools and Silly stuff occurred. A little bit of competitive spirit shone through between Dean, Porter, Steve and Chad. Here’s what they reviewed for us:

1) Discovery
– for online training Mon-Thurs
– youtube channel has archived webinars from DE
– follow @discoveryed on twitter
– DE is also on Facebook is filled with ideas, forum questions,  leadership council ideas, and individual educator blogs. The place to get great ideas in using DECanada.
– one of the Leadership Council groups in Texas called @txdenlc on twitter have an #appyhour per month, follow them on Twitter for more ideas.
– become a DE star. All you need to do is to commit to two events to share DE or digital learning each year. This can be via a blog, a staff meeting, workshop, emailing a link, etc.

2) Learning
– use Storify to curate information from Twitter, Facebook, etc. during a particular workshop, conference and/or session.
class dojo: is a behavior management and tracking website and app that teachers can  use. Really easy to set up, love the graphics and editability.
– if you want to screen cast on your desktop, I agree that Screencast-o-matic is a good way to provide quick snippets of information, direction or an overview.
– google hangout is a quick way for teachers to meet virtually via a webcam.
Toondoo for digistorytelling through cartoons.

3) Silly apps
– Zombies, run! App – if you want to have an original running workout while listening to your iPhone music, then this combo of zombies and exercise is for you.
– Another favorite of mine is Talking Tom (also Gina the Giraffe, Pierre the Parrot, Ben the Dog) are available for free and can be pre-recorded as well.
– The Halftone app for into a magazine-like cartoon.
– And if you’re needing some explosive elements in your day, use the ActionMovie app. Trust me, this will be addictive!


Overall, I boosted my digital metabolism, reconnected with some ECSB buddies and left with a multitude of tools in my digital toolbelt to share with teachers and administrators.

1 Comment

Posted by on May 11, 2012 in Uncategorized


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