Digital Storytelling Project: Mount Saint Helens

For ISTE Standard 1, I created a digital storytelling project to see how I might use such a tool in class, either as a presentation or for an example project students might create. I chose Mount Saint Helens and its 1980 eruption as my topic because it is relevant to Washington State, a topic covered in the grade I wish to teach (4th). This video was created with the intention of being viewed by my class, though I believe anyone who is interested in getting a brief overview of the eruption would find it of value. In class, it could be used as in introduction to the topic of volcanoes, the Ring of Fire, or geology, and could be used within the classroom during direct instruction time, or could be viewed as “homework” in a kind of flipped classroom setting. This project serves also as a model for creative and innovative thinking with information, a model for knowledge construction, and a way for engaging students in real-world issues, all three of which fall under the ISTE 1 standard. This project was slightly frustrating for me to complete, which I feel was helpful for me to learn before assigning it to students without testing it first. I used Windows Movie Maker and an audio program called Reaper (which is similar to Audacity, but can layer tracks easier and has a more “professional” quality to it). I used my cell phone to record my voice, and found the content for my project through a variety of resources, such as the United States Geological Survey and various books. My music came from the Free Music Archive, a resource for free sound effects and music. Originally, I wanted to create a project on the history of computer programming, since at the time I was researching the topic for a STEM expo I worked at. However, much of the information I found was speculative or not relevant to my topic, and I didn’t feel that it would be as relevant to teaching 4th grade. While traveling near Mt. Saint Helens, I was researching some of its history, and thought it might make a better project, so I completely switched gears and started delving into the geology of Washington and the Pacific Ring of Fire. My biggest challenge was keeping the information I had short and relevant. I did not have enough space to include a Native American legend about the mountain (a very interesting one about Loowit and the great spirit Sahale, which I recommend reading about), and it was the piece I pulled away, as it was not relevant to the geology and causes of the mountain’s eruption. I also found the technological aspect a bit challenging. Audacity would not work correctly, so I asked around about programs that might be more effective. Movie Maker did not have all the features I wished for, and frustrated me by changing my settings for each slide, making the project more time-consuming. I feel that it was an important lesson for me to learn, however, and I will be sure to keep this in mind if I ever plan to use digital storytelling either for my own lessons or for projects for students to complete.  I also thought that having this as an option rather than a requirement made it a more fun and interesting project, since I was able to choose my own form for presenting the information I gathered. Overall, I found it a beneficial and rewarding project, however, and will likely use something similar (if not so complicated as I made it) during my teaching.