Main Body

What’s Your Message?

Click play on the following audio player to listen along as you read this section.

a woman holding a magaphone

The stories that stay with us tend to be more than an event with a beginning, middle, and end. The stories that stay with us hold a bit of insight into what it means to be human. This insight is the main idea or message of the story. For example, the Ojibwe nation has told stories for thousands of years about a character named Nanabush. Nanabush stories are used to teach children lessons such as the importance of sharing and the value of our elders.

While listening to stories can leave the audience with an important lesson, telling stories can also help the storyteller find a lesson. This is one of the goals of the digital storytelling process. Examining our stories helps us reflect on who we have been, who we are, and who we will become.

For example, when putting together All the Truly Important Things, the storyteller learned that his lived experience of being diagnosed with HIV allows him to bring comfort to his newly diagnosed HIV-positive patients. When he tells these patients that all the truly important things in life are not lost, they can see that he is a living and breathing example of this truth. This hope may be the best medicine he can share with his patients, and it’s a medicine that would not be as healing if he did not share the same illness.

In 7th Word, Taté BlackBear’s message is that the classroom is everywhere. After the government spent over 100 years trying to erase the Lakota language, learning Lakota might seem impossible. But Taté’s successes keep him hungry to learn more. Some of his most meaningful learning happens in the bus on the way to the skate park, or sitting around the kitchen table eating berry pudding. Taté’s digital story shows that by embracing these moments, Taté has been — and will continue to be — an active learner of Lakota language and culture.

Digital Story Spotlight

In 2008, a project called Nurstory was launched. The project used digital storytelling to help nurses reflect on the way they practiced nursing. By sharing their digital stories with their colleagues, the nurses improved their ability to cope with a difficult job, work well with others, be leaders, and make ethical decisions.

Cathy Jaynes is one of the nurses who participated in the Nurstory project. She worked as an emergency nurse. Her job involved flying in helicopters to the scene of an accident. On the surface, her digital story Go Around is about a helicopter ride that almost ended in disaster. But it’s really about the recognition of Cathy’s voice and value as a person. As you watch this digital story, consider these two questions:

  • How does this story show who Cathy is?
  • How does this story show why Cathy is who she is?

Watch Go Around.

Look at the seed of a story you found in the last chapter. Reflect on these two questions:

  • How does this story show who you are?
  • How does this story show why you are who you are?

Media Attributions



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BC Reads: Adult Literacy Fundamental English - Reader 6 Copyright © 2015 by Shantel Ivits is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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