Digital Storytelling: Social Studies 7th Grade – George Washington Carver

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I have been so focused on well-produced digital stories that I have neglected many other examples. As I continue to think about how to use digital storytelling in my work environment with adult learners, it can be overwhelming when the examples I continue to watch are so well produced. I shifted speeds with the purpose of finding digital stories that were not so expertly produced, yet were still meaningful and exemplified a great place to start when introducing this resource for the first time.

I came across a digital story that was produced by students in a 7th grade class. This digital story is used to inform about a historical person, George Washington Carver. I appreciate this production because it is much simpler, but not simple. The story is engaging, and while I don’t become an expert on Mr. Carver, I do know more about him than I did in the prior to watching.

This story hits the mark on many things. The introduction is nicely done and creates an emotional engagement with the subject. The movement of images across the screen and the music in the background are great additions. The story is told using two narrators and it works with one exception. The transition from one narrator to the other feels awkward. This is due to a couple of things. First, the original narrator establishes the story and reinforces the mood and emotional attachment through tone of voice so it is difficult to accept the new narrator when introduced. Second, the music also fades into the background and almost disappears. The music is subtle at the beginning and when it leaves, even briefly, it creates an uncomfortable transition, which could be solved by adjusting the timing of the transition. This transition would work well if aligned with a transition in George Washington Carver’s life in this story for example. This is a relatively small fault and does not greatly impact the overall production.

This is a nicely done digital story and I selected it based on the background of the producers. While I may interact with adult learners, they are inexperienced when addressing digital storytelling. This story is a prime example of what can be accomplished providing a framework and given knowledge base. These 7th graders gave George Washington Carver a voice.

Given Jason Ohler’s assessment framework I have decided to evaluate this story using Content Understanding, Writing, and Sense of Audience. Overall this is a great digital story that feels a little rough around the edges. The producers, who are only 7th graders, did a nice job engaging the audience. I am curious as to the timeline and support systems in place for the students when this assignment was given.

Content understanding How well did the student meet the academic goals of the assignment and convey an understanding of the material addressed? The content was well composed and addressed George Washington Carver in a basic and easy to understand timeline, birth, life, and death.
Writing What was the quality of the student’s written work exhibited in the planning documents, research, etc.? The writing was good quality and worked well with the visual elements. The transition between co-narrators was out of sync causing mild discomfort.
Sense of audience How well did the story respect the needs of the audience? This story did a nice job of addressing the audience. Most people are unaware of George Washington Carver. The story does a nice job of covering the basics and providing viewers with a comfortable place to jump off and continue their exploration of Carver’s life if they choose.
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