Teach English in Tuquan Zhen - Xing'an Meng — Hinggan

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The power of stories has been very well documented and established since the beginning of time. Stories have the capacity to personalize a learning experience which in turn increases attention, engagement and information retention. Today digital storytelling is a fantastic tool that can be utilized in classrooms and can help students have an identification through narrative. Teaching kids with just dates, facts and numbers fail to stimulate constructive and creative comprehension. Storytelling generates a sense of anticipation in the audience around an unfolding narrative. It allows one to have a shared experience, an opportunity to convey the teaching point through a relatable story, something that will create a lasting memory in the listener’s mind and make the experience meaningful at the same time. It fuels imagination and increases cognitive ability in young learners. In the realm of the digital world, various applications and platforms can be used to create compelling videos, info-graphics, sound effects, background scores, or even stunning visuals in combination with voice recordings to make content visually inviting, meaningful and interesting. However, the technical aspect could be overwhelming for both teachers and students initially. Learning to manage the equipment be it microphones, volume levels, computer literacy skills, various applications, tech tools or doing video recordings and finally learning to know about the copyright infringement issues can be definitely learned and improved over time and with preparation can be a very rewarding learning experience. “Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today." -- Robert McKee Kids today have grown up with technology at their fingertips and all around them. They use technology for both entertainment and education. Every student can have something to contribute and the class could benefit greatly if the teacher can involve kids to do storytelling themselves as well. It would not only help them improve their vocabulary, grammar, receptive and productive skills, it would also help build confidence, teach kids how to plan and prioritize important information and manage time effectively by brainstorming, planning, outlining, drafting, editing and sharing content. Any teaching point can be made interesting by building a scene with the help of a storyline that can create an immersive experience. If kids can learn to do this then it would be a very important life skill. School assignments that encourage creative multimedia projects will help kids practice the target language, think critically and reflect. Digital storytelling projects can also be done in groups or in pairs where kids can collaborate and learn through teamwork. This would teach kids how to share the workload, delegate tasks and meet deadlines as the whole process could otherwise be time-consuming. There are hundreds of user-friendly tools on the internet that can be used for creating digital stories using storyboarding. Another approach would be to use picture slideshows with music or voice narration. There are other tools where various characters can be created with relevant backgrounds and dialogue bubbles to create individual pieces that can be woven together to tell an engaging story and conclude with a moral or a solution hence demonstrating the teaching point. “We don't turn to story to escape reality. We turn to story to navigate reality.” -- Lisa Cron While planning for classroom activities that involve digital storytelling it is important to keep the goal in mind. The student demographics, deciding the timeline, technology, which internet applications to use will all depend on what message the story needs to convey. For example, young learners can be grouped together in pairs or groups of three, depending on the class size and each group could pick one natural disaster, document themselves about it, create a video of an experiment and present their work in the form of a fiction story that could then be displayed using online storyboarding tools. Another example could be demonstrating the use of prepositions by using a fictional character who travels around the world to see the most famous bridges. No matter what the theme would be, the basic aspects that need to be considered are the length of the story, whether it would contain images or videos and would there be voice narration or music in the background. Digital storytelling can also be done as a project work where students can create a workflow of images or animations with comics that can use a mix of art, dialogues, character expressions and visual props that would encourage students to express themselves freely. This would help them to improve their vocabulary, summarize information and contextualize what they learn in a creative way. The stories drawn from personal experiences or biographies can be very powerful and can leave a lasting imprint on a student’s learning curve. Copyright is an important factor to consider while using any material online and as educators, it is important to understand and communicate the practice of using images, sounds, and other media without infringing the copyright of others. It is a very good opportunity for the teacher to demonstrate an ethical or fair way to create an awareness around media that can be legally used. Teachers and students can use copyright-free images and music from the public domain and use other media for educational purposes provided they understand the licenses available for creative works so that they can use content without legal or ethical violations. This would also nudge students to create their own original material and add to their learning experience. Digital storytelling can show students that there is more to learning than just reading and writing answers to questions. It can help accomplish an environment where kids can reflect on what they learn and be artistic, creative and productive. With the use of web tools, both teachers and students can create visually stimulating and engaging stories that will enhance learning the same topics which they cover as part of the curriculum but the content will be more appealing to their senses.