Digital storytelling can take SO many different forms in a school setting.
It can be super simple and involve a classroom assignment that involves photography or animation. It can take shape as a classroom or grade-level website (like IMPACT, the grade 5 storytelling site featured in a blog story a few weeks ago).
And digital storytelling can also involve a team of educators, students and leaders to encompass a school-wide storytelling platform.
Featured in this post is an example of a school-wide site called Citizen C at Concordia International School Shanghai. This digital storytelling site began as a grassroots movement spearheaded by a handful of teachers who used Square Space to launch a site where they all published stories they felt mattered to the community and the world. It grew to include dozens of student storytellers who posted articles, photos, videos, original music compositions, podcasts and infographics. It even became a hub for live-streaming drama productions and concerts when parents couldn't access campus because of Covid, as well as a place where recordings of those arts showcases could be curated after the fact.
After just a year, Citizen C became a powerful platform for advocacy, awareness and the creation of culture at Concordia. Not only did it allow students and teachers to share important stories that aligned with school values and global competencies; it also inspired conversation and action around these themes, resulting in a strengthened resolve to work towards the school's Student Learner Outcomes (SLOs). In particular, the outcomes of "active global citizen" and "effective communicator" slid into focus, front and centre.
Below is a short video that walks you through the format and function of Citizen C and explains its genesis. I hope it will give you some ideas about what this might look like at your school.
In addition, I want to remind you that "Becoming a Digital Storyteller", a 4-week course for educators, begins on February 10, 2022! The registration deadline is next week, February 3, 2022, so click on the registration link to secure your spot. There will be two cohorts for this course, an East Asia and African cohort, and I am excited to launch into this meaningful work soon! Any questions? Send me an email and I would love to hear from you. :)
A screenshot of one page from Citizen C from the "Global Citizenship" tab.
This week on the blog I am excited to share two things: a story and an announcement about a new online course coming in February!
The story is about d'Arcy Lunn. d'Arcy is a passionate and purposeful changemaker who is the founder of Teaspoons of Change. He is currently working on a carbon mapping project for the Dulwich group of schools and has spent years teaching students and teachers about sustainable living. I have known d'Arcy since 2015 and recently recorded a zoom interview with him to explore his journey as an active global citizen. If you are an educator who cares about global citizenship and sustainability, this story will inspire you. You could share this story with your students or with other educators, or simply enjoy it yourself as a way to connect with d'Arcy and his vision for a more sustainable world. Please feel free to share this link!
In addition, I am excited to announce that I will be launching a new 4-week online course to help teachers become digital storytellers! The course will begin on February 10, 2022, and will involve two hours of engagement each week (one hour of synchronous learning and one hour of asynchronous learning). If you have wondered about digital storytelling and how to bring this powerful tool into your classroom, this 4-week course will equip you with everything you need. :)
Here is a link to the course info page.
And a link right to the course enrollment page.
The poster below is a JPEG file so the links in this image aren't active but correspond to the links above. I am excited about this course because I love digital storytelling and have seen, multiple times, how it is a powerful and purposeful tool to:
* create deep learning and engagement with our curriculum
* develop mindsets for active global citizenship and global competencies
* cultivate communication and action skills
* raise awareness, promote advocacy and build cultures of service and sustainability in our classrooms and schools
Join me and a group of like-minded educators for this 4-week session! Any questions? Shoot me an email. I'd love to hear from you.
This photo was taken in my backyard for our family Canadian Thanksgiving celebration in October 2021.
When it comes to sustainability, food is a topic most people can relate to and understand. We all eat, and some of us grow gardens, cook, bake and think a lot about food. And, over the last number of decades, our food options have exploded, allowing us many more choices than our grandparents or great-grandparents imagined possible.
Michael Pollan, in his book In Defense of Food, says that "eaters have real choices now, and those choices have real consequences, for our health and the health of the land and the health of our food culture." So true!
We know that what we eat affects our bodies and our local ecosystems, and most people are aware of the link between what we eat (or don't) and climate change (did you know, for instance, that approximately 25 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions each year is related to agriculture, and that beef has an enormously high carbon footprint?). Yet it can seem overwhelming to understand how to approach our plates and palates with a more sustainable lens.
As teachers, we can learn alongside our students if we bring issues of food sustainability into our classrooms. Even the youngest learners can explore what it means to eat in a healthy and responsible way, and how to grow simple plants in a class or school garden. Older learners can unpack complex issues such as root causes of unfair food distribution and the impact of food waste on our climate. In any discipline, there are many ways to engage our students in these conversations, to literally bring food sustainability to the table in our learning environments.
To get started, check out the interview below with Eric Jakah, a young leader in a community called Vumilia in the Rift Valley, Kenya. Eric has been at the forefront of helping his community grow food, and he is exploring new techniques such as aquaponics and no-till agriculture as solutions for the future.
Below the embedded video are links to provide some starting points for planning curriculum around food and sustainability, too. Because I love stories, I have included some links for wonderful books (for readers of all ages) that can serve as a foundation for units of study.
I hope these resources are helpful! :)
Resources for teaching about sustainable food:
Younger learners (PK - grade 6):
* www.readerstoeaters.com/our-books?category=Garden (a wonderful collection of picture books about food and gardening)
* www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/14431165-potatoes-on-rooftops (a fabulous children's book about urban farming and more)
* www.tomsofmaine.com/good-matters/helping-hands/teaching-kids-sustainable-food-practices (some simple things anyone can do)
Older learners (grade 7 - 12):
* www.animalvegetablemiracle.com/ (Barbara Kingsolver's blog and book about sustainable gardening)
* michaelpollan.com/books/ (Michael Pollan has written many non-fiction books about food; these make a great starting point for high school learners to rethink what's on their plates)
* gdswithmrslav.weebly.com/unit-3-food--farming.html (As part of a class I taught for several years called Global Development Studies, I developed this online unit about food and farming; don't worry about completing the assignments listed on this page - unless you want to! - but check out the videos and links. There is a lot to learn here).
Also, a big shoutout to my good friend Anthony Reich, the Director of Global Citizenship at Dulwich College Pudong in Shanghai. At his school, they produce a sustainability newsletter each week and this week the topic is Sustainable Gardening, a wonderful connection to these ideas. Here is a copy of his excellent newsletter (which contains even more resources!).
In September, two grade 5 teachers from St. Andrew's Episcopal School in Austin, Texas, wondered if they could create a digital storytelling platform that would create deep learning and engagement for students as well as awareness and action in the school community. Three months after their initial idea: the launch of Impact, a purposeful and powerful digital storytelling hub for students, teachers, parents and other members of the St. Andrew's community.
Michele Turner and Mark Garcia, the two educators leading this initiative, care a lot about their students and about the state of affairs on planet Earth. Advocates for peace, environmental sustainability, equity, inclusion and belonging, Michele and Mark are passionate about helping students engage with global issues, the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, and principles of sustainability.
Michele (a teacher at several top international schools in various parts of the world before returning to the US in 2020) had contributed to a digital storytelling platform at her last international school and could see it was a way to build community and tell success stories about what was happening in innovative classrooms. She wanted to bring this storytelling approach to St. Andrew's to create a space where students would be thoroughly and actively engaged. Mark, a language arts teacher who loves storytelling and who brings a social justice lens to many units of study, was keen to join Michele. Together, they tackled the tech aspects of creating a website and managing posts, and the results - even in the first month of publishing content - have been powerful.
"I am excited to see my students working on their Impact stories," comments Michele. "They really want to get their work published because they care about the issues they're learning and writing about. You can see they're very motivated to succeed, and a lot of that has to do with their emerging passion for what they're learning about the world. I can see their communication skills improving quickly, as well as their critical thinking skills; having Impact as an end product or goal is really pushing the students to see how their learning in the classroom is connected to bigger issues in the community and world."
Mark agrees. He says that in his current novel study (of Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan), students can connect themes in the novel to the Sustainable Development Goals and issues of migration, socioeconomic inequalities and belonging.
"Michele and I came up with the three categories for posting on Impact - people, planet and perspective - as a way to help students understand they can communicate about what they're learning in a way that leads to positive change," says Mark. "Our school community cares about working towards a more just, equitable and kind world, and we think Impact can help with that mission."
To get started in realizing their goal of creating a digital storytelling platform, Michele and Mark partnered up with me and my husband Brian (international educator and tech wizard). We met online for four 2-hour coaching sessions where we supported Mark and Michele in designing and planning the site, and navigating the tech side of creating a site and posting a variety of media. As well, we spent time each week discussing mindsets for purposeful global citizenship, and how to help students engage with ideas and action in ways that would be open, fair, humble, curious and respectful.
The coaching partnership was rich, fun and positive, and equipped Michele and Mark with the time, resources and support they needed to achieve their goal and launch Impact. That happened at the beginning of December, with school administrators and parents attending a class launch event that celebrated the power of storytelling.
"We're excited to see how Impact will grow as we continue to post articles, videos and photos," says Michele. "Already parents and administrators have contacted us to engage around ideas, and we think this can be a powerful way of living out our school's mission."
You can visit Impact HERE.
Below is a video interview with Michele and Mark where you can hear them talk about the creation of Impact and how it's possible for any educator to get started with digital storytelling. If you're interested in creating your own digital storytelling platform for your classroom or school, get in touch and I would love to partner with you as a coach. By sharing your stories, you'll be participating in creating a culture of global awareness and citizenship at your school: what a powerful way to build authentic and meaningful global competencies for all. I'd love to hear from you!