Storytelling happens on a daily and sometimes even continuous basis. Whether a student is describing what happened on the playground on your walk to lunch or is using their imagination while playing with a toy at quiet time, stories are being told. Storytelling in the 21st century has amplified students’ voices, making them be heard not only orally but digitally. What is digital storytelling, what are ways to use digital storytelling in the classroom, and what are some digital storytelling apps and tools?

What is Digital Storytelling?

Digital storytelling blends videos, audio, images, and text to convey stories and information. Digital storytelling is something that you may (and probably likely are) already doing in your classroom without even realizing it. Digital storytelling is a powerful way to connect both young and old learners to all realms of literacy. The digital aspect makes it even easier for non-readers or non-English speaking students to add a voice to their stories. Digital storytelling is also very versatile, and there are many ways educators can use digital storytelling in their class in a variety of subjects and grade levels.

Ways to Use Digital Storytelling

There are many ways teachers can use digital storytelling in their classroom, whether teaching in-person or remotely this school year. For independent work time, students can use digital storytelling to re-tell what happened in a text that was read aloud to them. These students could simply record an audio explanation or use Sock Puppet to re-tell. For English language learners, digital storytelling in these ways helps to provide an authentic opportunity for learners to practice their vocabulary and provides them with an equal voice.

Digital storytelling can also be used in subjects other than reading. Students can use digital storytelling to document a science experiment step-by-step or create a digital journal describing what it would be like if they were on the Oregon Trail. Even in specialist classes like physical education, students could use digital storytelling to explain how to shoot a basketball or how to throw the javelin. The options and opportunities can be as extensive as one’s imagination.

Digital Storytelling Apps and Tools

With the importance of storytelling explained and some ideas for when it could be used, here are some digital storytelling apps and tools that are a great landing place for getting started.

StoryBird is a language arts tool all about digital storytelling. It curates original art from illustrators and provides a library of 10,000+ images to inspire writers to create anything from picture books, to comics, chapter books, poetry, or flash fiction. StoryBird also has a writing curriculum that offers 600+ lessons and quizzes as well as writing prompts that are all aligned with the Common Core. StoryBird has 800,000 participating classrooms who can vouch for the excitement and engagement it provides to learners of all ages.

My Story advertises itself as the simplest storytelling and book making app for kids in the classroom. With a simple interface, it is perfect for kids ages 5-12. Each child has their own personal library where they house their creations. The drag and drop format allows for easily rearranging and adjusting pages, even for the littlest of users. Students’ book creations can easily be shared through movie format to places like Facebook and Twitter. Families love having another means of connecting to their child’s classroom!

Cloud Stop Motion is an engaging stop motion animation package that is able to run directly in the browser on any modern device. What makes this stop motion tool different from others is that there is nothing to install and everything is saved in the cloud. This ability to be able to switch devices at any point and still have access to creations is great for students who are in a hybrid scenario this school year. Cloud Stop Motion allows students to digitally story tell with sound effects, music, titles, speech bubbles…you name it. Use this tool for predicting, retelling, and creating. It’s a great place for digital stories to come alive.

Book Creator unleashes student creativity with awesome digital books. Students have the ability to create interactive stories, digital portfolios, research journals, science reports, comic adventures…the list goes on and on. Teachers can create their own teaching resources, or let their students take hold of the reins. The ability to be simple or complex makes Book Creator a one stop shop for students in grades K on up.

Sock Puppets is another digital storytelling tool that students love. On this app students create their own lip-synched videos using, you guessed it, a sock puppet. Students can choose their own props, scenery, and backgrounds. By simply hitting ‘record’, puppets automatically lip-synch to your voice. Sock Puppets is one of the easiest and quickest ways to provide students with a fun storytelling platform.

The 21st century has amplified student voices when it comes to storytelling. Now, learners can not only share stories with their oral language, but also with digital tools that let them design, draw, and create what they want heard. By using digital storytelling tools such as StoryBird, My Story, Cloud Stop Motion, Book Creator, and Sock Puppets, students can find the right technology tool that lets their imaginations come to life and their experiences be heard. Find a way to fit a tool such as these into your lessons. You may be surprised just how many stories are waiting to be written.