I’ve been working on creating an example for the digital storytelling project I would like to have students in my 9th and 10th grade Intensive Reading class complete. Here is a link to the project on our class wiki:
For the project, I plan to have the students choose a novel that they have read during our Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) time. The students will write a poem that expresses the theme of the story they’ve selected. They will then create a video using selected images, their spoken word poem, and music.
In the example I created, I used the theme of the short story, “Ambush,” by Tim O’Brien. The story is about a veteran of the Vietnam War and the guilt he feels years after he returns home to the U.S. The broad theme of the story is that all of our actions have consequences, the effects of which we may not realize until later. The narrower theme is that soldiers in a war are often faced with morally difficult or morally ambiguous decisions and they may bear the weight of those decisions even after they return from war.
I thought that, “Ambush,” would make a good story to use for the example because the students read O’Briens, The Things They Carried, which includes, “Ambush,” in their English classes in 9th grade. We also read “Ambush” as part of our Reading program to practice analyzing the parts of a story, so I felt that most, if not all, of the students would be familiar with the story line. We also talk about the theme of the story in class. I felt this would help students, also, since we could discuss the thought process I went through, first in writing the poem, and then in selecting pictures and music to further communicate my ideas about the theme.
According to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for 9th and 10th grade English Language Arts, students should be able to “determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze . . . its development over the course of the text.” With regard to writing, students should be able to” use narrative techniques to develop experiences, events or characters.”
My goal for this project is to help students demonstrate their understanding of the theme of a novel in a creative way. I feel that allowing the students to select words, images and music to express their ideas will help them connect with the theme of the story on a deeper level.
I would like to ask readers to evaluate the example I have created and provide feedback on its suitability for the intended audience: 9th and 10th grade students in an Intensive Reading class. I would also like readers to consider whether the project idea and the example I have created appropriately match the learning objectives for the project.
One concern I have with the project, is having students visit YouTube for examples of spoken word poems. Our school does allow access to YouTube for school projects; however, I am concerned that students might be tempted to browse around on YouTube. Even if they only browse for spoken word poetry, they may come across content that is inappropriate for school. I looked on School Tube and Teacher Tube for examples of spoken word poetry performances, but felt the examples I found on YouTube were better examples for my students. I plan to discuss appropriate use of YouTube with my students before they visit the site, and I do walk around and monitor students while they are working, but I would like to know if there are any other ideas about how to address this concern.
Thank you for any feedback and/or suggestions! 🙂
National Governors Association Center for Best Practices & Council of Chief State School Officers. (2012). Common Core State Standards for English language arts in literature. Retrieved November 8, 2013 from http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy.