TechnoKids Releases TechnoDrama

Give story writing a “new spin” using the TechnoKids project TechnoDrama. Have your students become digital storytellers. Instead of writing a story using paper and pencil, have them tell it using video, sound, and animation. This modern day form of storytelling is a great way for your students to express their creativity. What is so exciting about this project is that no high-tech devices are required. If your school has a video camera, web cam, digital camera, or even nothing at all, you can complete the activities.

NOTE: This project has been a favorite for many years. Unfortunately, it is no longer available. To find other TechnoKids projects for elementary students view the Project Matrix or visit the TechnoKids website.

The main difference between digital storytelling and traditional writing is that the events are not told with words, but digital images. In TechnoDrama, your students will follow all the stages of the writing process. They will plan their story, organize their ideas into a storyboard, write a script for the shots, edit the content of the video, and share their work with an audience. The goal throughout the activities is to produce a story that children will enjoy today using video equipment and Windows Movie Maker (which is part of Windows XP).

The story students tell in the TechnoDrama project will be a remake of a classic nursery rhyme. These childhood favorites can be transformed by modernizing the tale, re-writing the ending, explaining the events in more detail, showing how the characters feel about the events, or changing the storyline to make it more entertaining.

You may wonder “Why Nursery Rhymes?” Nursery rhymes are a great way to introduce digital storytelling to your students. This is because they are familiar and have a structure that easily can be divided into “shots”. Often when students are first introduced to video production they have BIG IDEAS. Sometimes these ideas are difficult to produce due to limits in time and resources. In addition, there is a lot of learning that needs to take place to understand how to handle the equipment, film action sequences, and edit video footage. You do not want to start something that can quickly become too difficult to manage. Modernizing nursery rhymes is a fun and easy way to introduce digital storytelling to your students.

The TechnoDrama project begins with activities that help your students gain an understanding of digital storytelling. To start, they view modern-day nursery rhymes including a “new spin” on Humpty Dumpty and Little Boy Blue. After watching each video, they analyze the content of the story and the production techniques used.

Once students are familiar with the look of a digital story, they prepare for the creation of their own nursery rhyme by learning how to use the video editing software Windows Movie Maker. Students import the raw footage used to make the Little Boy Blue sample, and edit the content by deleting unwanted frames, adding video effects, applying transitions, and inserting text overlays. The goal of this activity is to discover the capabilities of the program.

Next, students operate a video capture device. They experiment with the program features in Windows Movie Maker to learn how to alter the microphone settings, color brightness, frames per second, and camera position. Once familiar with how to adjust the camera settings they practice recording quality video.

With students now confident with the technology, they are ready to team up to produce their own digital story. As a group, students select a nursery rhyme, and determine how they would like to give the poem a “new-spin”. To do this they need to think critically about the content of the rhyme. For example, should Wee Willie Winkie be running through the town in his pajamas, does Peter Pumpkin Eater’s wife like living in a pumpkin, and what does Mary’s teacher say when she brings her lamb to school? Using a storyboard, they divide their idea into shots, outlining for each one the action, characters, background, words, camera settings, and props. Once they have all their ideas organized, students assemble the sets, enact the story events, and film the production.

Following filming, each member of the production team takes their video footage and individually edits the content. By applying their knowledge of Windows Movie Maker, students produce a nursery rhyme that children will enjoy today. When their digital stories are finished, these modern day poems are shown to viewers. They are sure to become new childhood favorites!

TechnoDrama is recommended for students in grades 3-5.

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