Notes to the Instructor

In the days before YouTube, I created my first digital story without knowing that the genre had a name and was part of a growing movement of do-it-yourself media. Digital storytelling has since become a popular tool in literacy teaching and learning. I experienced this firsthand as part of the Literacy Lives teaching team at Simon Fraser University. At the end of the program, learners were assigned the task of creating a digital story to share their learning in the program. The results were tear-jerkingly powerful.

More recently, I had the opportunity to be a storytelling mentor in a project called Cancer’s Margins. For this project, people made digital stories sharing what it was like to live in the intersection of queerness and cancer. As a result of the deeply moving and transformative experiences I’ve had with these projects, I am excited to share a digital storytelling curriculum specifically tailored to basic education students. It is based on the excellent work of the Center for Digital Storytelling in Berkeley, California.

This course pack embeds fundamental English and computer literacy learning in a project-based curriculum that has a whole lot of soul. It is designed to meet the learning outcomes for Adult Literacy Fundamental English Level 6, as outlined in the ABE in BC 2014/2015 Articulation Handbook. This is roughly equivalent to grades 7.5 to 9 in the K-12 system.

This course pack is designed to be used with BC Reads Adult Literacy Fundamental English – Reader 6. The reader includes 11 level-appropriate texts that describe, step-by-step, how to create a digital story. Each text contains between 500 and 1,000 words. Convenient links to these readings are found throughout this course pack.

Each chapter of the course pack contains:

  • Pre-reading questions that can be used for individual reflection, journaling, or class discussion.
  • Vocabulary-building exercises
  • Word attack strategies
  • Comprehension questions
  • Grammar lessons and practice exercises
  • Writing tasks

For detailed information, please refer to the Level 6 Scope and Sequence document, also available in printable form in Appendix 4.

To help students develop their computer literacy skills, the online version of this book contains videos that allow learners to watch a skill being performed. These videos are followed by step-by-step written instructions to further support learners as they try out each new skill.

Creating a digital story is a deeply personal process. For this reason, I do not encourage instructors to assess learning based on the end product of the digital story. Evaluation of the digital story may add pressure and anxiety that can detract from the learning process. The process is more important than the product. A variety of assignments and assessment tools are suggested throughout the course pack that will allow instructors and learners to measure learning in more effective and ethical ways. For example, in Appendix 3, you will find a checklist to score the writing tasks assigned at the end of each chapter.

It is also crucial that learners have the final say about how their digital story will be shared. For ethical guidelines, please see the Center for Digital Storytelling’s Digital Storyteller’s Bill of Rights.

This course pack includes a number of graphic organizers to help students organize their thoughts in a visual way. In Appendix 1, you can access and print a complete set of these graphic organizers. Students can also download and print them as needed, through the links embedded throughout the course pack. Appendix 2 contains a Digital Story Progress Sheet and Appendix 3 has a Paragraph Writing Checklist; each of these pages contains both a link and print-friendly version.

You may wish to use this program online, or you may wish to print it for your students by downloading it as a PDF. This program was designed to suit both options. An Internet connection is needed to watch the digital stories that are highlighted throughout the curriculum, as well as to access the web-based tool that allows learners to build their own digital stories.

Font size and line spacing can be adjusted in the online view, and have been enhanced for the print and PDF versions for easier reading. (In addition, both epub and mobi files are offered for students with e-readers and Kindles.)

This course pack has been reviewed by subject experts from colleges and universities.

I hope these pages help learners find new meaning in their everyday relationships and experiences, as well as equip them with new tools to share their voice and perspectives with the world.

-Shantel Ivits