Help Me #ds106, You’re My Only Hope


This coming Tuesday, May 31st, I’ll be working with some English 11 students about turning written memoirs into digital stories. The teacher has given me carte blanche to introduce students to a wide range of media and forms for turning a written work into a 3-5 minute digital narrative. Needless to say, it will likely involve still imagery, video, and audio to varying degrees, but beyond a suggested final form, the only hard requirements are making sure to include all forms of media listed above.

Hopefully, you see my predicament; it’s a wide open assignment to produce a digital story using more traditional digital storytelling elements, but focused around one particular memory. Think StoryCorps and This American Life mashed up with the typical YouTube vlogger. I wanted to provide the students with a few examples that we could discuss, much like a critique in an art studio, and figure out how to help them elicit certain emotions within the digital stories.

I have a couple of examples to share with the students. The Book Mobile by StoryCorps, and I Should Have through the Story Center are two prototypical stories that students will likely be able to relate to, and don’t stray too far from the traditional digital storytelling narrative. I wanted to talk about how each piece made them feel, and the elements used within them. Again, nothing terribly out of the ordinary.

Which got me thinking. I bet my #DS106 friends could help me with this. Do you have examples of digital memoirs and narratives that stretch beyond the traditional “Photostory-esque” type of digital stories? The StoryCorps animated stories are a great first step, but students aren’t going to be able to animate anything like that in the time they have.

So I’m curious; if you were in a room with thirty 11th-graders, looking to give them a taste of the wider realm of digital storytelling, what would you share with them?


  1. I’m not sure I know much about 11th graders–but high school juniors age 16-17, right?

    I make all kinds of digital stories that are posted on Mind on Some with music because that’s easier; however, the copyright issues will no doubt be a disappoint to young people as they can’t use their favorite song, so the narrated memoir is better.

    You can use Joe Lambert’s DST Cookbook for background information on the seven steps:

    You can present the overall concept to them in class using Joe Lambert’s Prezi:

    When I teach dst, I have students write stories in class using the Pixar story approach
    because in ten or fifteen minutes, they can have a story written without overthinking or overwriting it–aiming for 350 words.
    Then workshop those in Story Circle.
    Record the final narrative using pocket technology.
    Put the audio down on the video editing track FIRST (controls their time).
    Add self taken video and still photos–my rule for students is no media off the internet–all self-generated. There’s folk art power in that.
    Sharpshooter–about retracing my dad’s footsteps in WWII France:
    You’ll have some young poets–here’s a an original poem dst:
    Or you can pose a question to them. This one is to the question, “What does wilderness mean to you?”
    Or you can have them write to a course discipline topic; this is an example for Geology:

    I initiated the website Story Lane: The Digital Storytelling Project of Lane Community College
    It has dozens of narrated dst by students, classified, and faculty.
    For years I worked with Early Education students who were doing their first student teaching. Here is one by a young man finding his way as a beginning teacher:
    But all of those stories are moving but unpolished, so your students will be less intimidated to see what other students slightly older can do. On the Story Lane site, select the “Student Stories” category.

    You can find another fine repository at The Story Center in Berkeley at

    If you need assistance at any point with developing your class plan, please don’t hesitate to contact me at
    We can Skype or whatever might be useful to you.
    Good luck–it’s quite the adventure!

    1. These are fantastic, thank you Sandy! I’ve pulled a few examples from the links you gave me, and the Prezi is going to be extremely helpful; I especially like the way the stories are woven into the presentation. The students already have their stories written, so the writing exercises won’t fit it too well this time around, but it will be useful for them to think about how they need to go about “translating” their written stories to visual ones.

      If the students free to, I’ll certainly be sharing some of the stories with you 🙂

    1. Thanks, John. I forget about the Inspire site; I surfed through it and picked out a few smaller gems to talk about with the students as small vignettes within their larger stories.

  2. Did you see my tweet about a digital story project involving “memory objects”? Hmmm. With my sixth graders, they write short personal narratives built around a memory represented by a tangible object, and then create short digital story — the visual is the image of the object (or images), and the writing becomes the narration/voice. You could even use the Adobe digitstory tool (now called Spark) but I have done with the old Photostory tool on PC and iMovie on Mac. A slideshow format might also work.

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