Digital Storytelling

What is digital storytelling?

Quite simply, it’s the use of digital tools to share stories. It involves using a combination of multimedia such as graphics, text, video, and audio to tell a story. The focus of digital storytelling is on THE STORY, not on “THE STUFF.” Digital storytelling is about writing and sharing. No matter which platform is used to create and share stories, teachers and students should remember that the author’s message should be the focal point of the digital storytelling experience. Digital storytelling is a matter of the heart! Digital storytelling is an experience in literacy, and we should focus on key elements when asking our students to compose.

What constitutes a good digital story?

Bernajean Porter describes these six elements of good digital storytelling:

Living Inside Your Story—The perspective of each story is told in first person using your own storytelling voice to narrate the tale. Rather than a detached telling that this happened and that happened, viewers experience you living inside this story.

Unfolding Lessons Learned—One of the most unique features of this specific digital storytelling style is the expectation that each story express a personal meaning or insight about how a particular event or situation touches you, your community, or humanity.

Developing Creative Tension—A good story creates intrigue or tension around a situation that is posed at the beginning of the story and resolved at the end, sometimes with an unexpected twist. The tension of an unresolved or curious situation engages and holds the viewer until reaching a memorable end.

Economizing the Story Told—A good story has a destination—a point to make—and seeks the shortest path to its destination. The art of shortening a story lies in preserving the essence of the tale—using the fewest words along with images and sound to make your point.

Showing Not Telling—Unlike traditional oral or written stories, images, sound, and music can be used to show a part of the context, create setting, give story information, and provide emotional meaning not provided by words. Both words and media need to reveal through details rather than named or simply stated.

Developing Craftsmanship—A good story incorporates technology in artful ways, dem-onstrating craftsmanship in communicating with images, sound, voice, color, white space, animations, design, transitions, and special effects. Ask yourself whether your media resources are decorating, illustrating, or illuminating.

Read more:

And you can read about these seven elements of digital literacy via Jon Orech.

Oral- it is how storytelling began; presentations should include an oral aspect; video use is becoming more prevalent; provides a skillset that can be used alone
Written- writing may not be the final product, but it will be a large part of the planning process; “writing is used to plan, script and create a story that demonstrates content area understanding”
Art- art is becoming the new literacy, the 4th “R”; we need to understand design, the grammar of art
Digital- Our goal with digital literacy is to use technology “effectively, creatively and wisely.”
Bottom line: No matter how sophisticated our technology becomes, the future of digital storytelling will involve writing and conventional forms of literacy.”

The use of digital tools such as those included on this page help inspire students to creatively express their ideas, and because the tools are web-based, they can share their stories with an authentic audience. Encourage your students to craft and share their stories today!

How can I help my students bring their stories to life?

Tools to Explore

Little Bird Tales

Little Bird Tales is the perfect way to introduce even the youngest students to the power of digital storytelling. With a very simple design, students can easily create or upload illustrations, compose text, and record voice narrations to bring their stories to life! Here are examples of tales in their public gallery. Here is a quick “how to” guide for creating a tale. Give it a try! Here is another Getting Started pdf tutorial.

Check out these Elanco grade 2 examples!

Teachers can build their own accounts for students using Little Bird Tales, or Lyn can assist with account creation. Please use students’ district usernames and passwords when building accounts. If the student username is taken, it’s because they’ve used Little Bird Tales in a previous grade. Lyn can help move the student account to the new class.



The beautiful illustrations and artwork found in the storytelling tool Storybird will inspire even the most reluctant writers! Creators choose sets of artwork to use in their stories, then compose their stories page by page using the simple layout and text features:

Read more about Storybird’s features here.

Here is an example I shared with the Brecknock school community a few years ago:

With a teacher account, you can create student accounts for your class (no student emails required). Please contact me if you need assistance setting up accounts for your students! Use district usernames and passwords for Storybird accounts. If student accounts conflict with prior years, we can move the account from last year’s class to this year. Contact Lyn for assistance!

Digital Storytelling resources from Mr. Leister

Windows PhotoStory 3

Students have Windows PhotoStory 3 installed on their laptops. Students can combine images, audio, and text to craft a “slideshow” to help tell their story.

Also check out 50+ Web 2.0 Ways to Tell a Story (here are the tools by type) and my digital storytelling Diigo bookmarks for more ideas.

If your students are creating with video, they can use Windows Movie Maker to create finished video projects. We will need to submit work orders for this application to be installed on your students’ devices. (PC only)

Here are some Windows Movie Maker resources and storyboards for you and your students.

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