Tools for Digital Storytelling

There are plenty of free tools to assist you with digital storytelling. This is is by no means all-encompassing.

Print Resource:

Porter, B. (2004). DigiTales : The art of telling digital stories. Sedalia, Colo.: Bernajean Porter.

Porter’s Website:


First, Let’s Talk PLANNING tools. Every good story has a storyboard. You can make your storyboard using any number of ways. I appreciate digital collaboration, so I would use LucidChart to map out a story. If that doesn’t work, I’d at least create a script in Googledocs.

Now, Let’s Examine RECORDING tools. There are probably 200 tools out there that could be used for digital storytelling. If none of these float your boat, check out Kathy Schrock’s lost list of suggestions.

Voicethread: Voicethread is my favorite tool for digital storytelling because it’s so flexible. Voicethread allows for video or audio creation. Commenters can reply with video, audio, or text. The products look great on a computer or mobile device. Because the free account only allows you to make five Voicethreads, I’ve purchased my own paid account.

Here is a sample:


If you need help, let me know. I’ve made many over the years. Here’s a simple tutorial on how to make a Voicethread on a computer.

The best teacher resource I’ve found comes from Bill Ferriter. He’s a sixth-grade science teacher out of Raleigh, North Carolina. You should spend a few hours just combing his website before you even start using Voicethread. He has mapped out the best practices in digital storytelling.

Lastly, here are a few more samples from the Voicethread website. I especially like “Lincoln’s Dog Fido.”


eeExplain Everything (on the iPad): I’ve only used this for screencasting directions, but there’s no reason a teacher couldn’t use it for digital storytelling. Check out this resource on using Explain Everything.

Here is an outstanding tutorial on how to use Explain Everything for Digital Storytelling on an iPad.

Here’s a student sample:



Sock Puppets (on the iPad): I’ve used Sock Puppets as an outlet to demonstrate understanding, but I think it would make a great storytelling app too! My own children use it to tell stories for fun. I would buy the paid version so you can upload pictures in the background.

Here is a quick sample to get you thinking.



Green Screen by Do Ink: What an easy and cute app. For almost nothing, you can make your own green screen movies. Students can create scenes in the app, import them into iMovie, and stitch them together for a beautiful story. In Doudna 126 you’ll find a green screen studio that’s perfect for your projects. If you don’t have that kind of access, you can make one like I did in my basement for $25 or less. A green can of paint is all you need! A student this semester even used green tag board and did just fine!

Green Screen Studio in my Basement
green screen
Green Screen Studio in Doudna 126


Here’s a good sample to get you thinking.


Note: The Green Screen Studio is available at select times. Contact me if you’re interested in reserving it.

Stop Motion: Remember Wallace and Gromit? This iPad app allows you to make your very own stop motion movies. You can use anything to tell your story – pieces of paper, legos, stuffed animals, even a dry erase board. The app also comes with a voice over feature. Keep in mind, you’ll need to take probably at least 1000 photographs to tell a story, so be patient.

It took me a long time to find one with voice overs, but here’s a sample.


NOTE: This tool doesn’t allow for voice overs and probably won’t fulfill a project requirement.

Animoto: Although it doesn’t allow for Voiceovers, users can still tell a beautiful story. The free account is limiting; I bought a paid account so I could have longer videos.

A few years ago I fostered two batches of baby kittens for a local animal shelter. This video is a short story of their little lives. Although the final project turned out to be fine for the audience, if I could do it again, I would have planned a storyboard right from the beginning. I’m happy with my work, but it’s a good example of how not thinking ahead limited me. Here’s another, more personal, project I created to describe the life of my beautiful sister-in-law.


Voki Test Runs

Last week we resurrected an old, but still great web 2.0 tool called Voki. This tool allows the user to type or record audio and set that audio to an avatar. When finished, the voki can be shared as code for a blog, a link for email or social media, or just saved to individual voki accounts.

Students enjoy making vokis as a means of self-expression. Those students that are shy often find that vokis help them express themselves. Others just appreciate the opportunity to create unique characters. In my own experience, I ‘ve had students create vokis to introduce visitors to their blogs. I, personally, have used vokis for the same purpose.

Teachers all over the world create vokis to narrate stories, provide point of view, share knowledge, et cetera. When used with teacher support, Vokis provide an augmented level on the SAMR model. Because vokis can be shared digitally in a multitude of ways, we have some pretty significant task redesign.

Here are some sample vokis from other teachers:

Our voki experiments are just that — experiments. Some students will be able to use their vokis next semester or maybe even this fall yet. Others just created a voki for fun and experience. That’s the thing with technology integration experience — teachers have to have that “play” mindset in the digital sandbox. I’m thankful for students like this group that take advantage of those opportunities. 🙂


Brianna’s Voki

Kevyn’s Voki

Jenna’s Voki

Alicia’s Voki

Hannah T’s Voki


A Quick SAMR Review

SAMR is a great model to guide teachers to design and integrate technology in ways that create experiences in higher order thinking. I see it as a lens!

Substitution — Direct tool substitute.
Ex: I could have students type an essay instead of writing it.

Augmentation — Technology is still a direct tool substitute, but with some enhancements.
Ex: Type on Gdocs and email it to me. Access it from other places.

Modification — Technology allows for significant task redesign. Transformation!
Ex: Collaboration on Googledocs. Instant commenting.

Redefintion — Tasks previously inconceivable. Collaborative and authentic.
Ex: Classroom makes an ebook. Groups make subtopics. Research is conducted. Make ebook using an app. Finally ebook is published to class website.

The SAMR model can be used in anywhere in the classroom when considering integrating technology. The SAMR model corresponds to Bloom’s. The higher up the model, the higher order thinking skill.


How Times Have Changed. Web 2.0 + SAMR + TPACK = Wise Planning


I love seeing advertisement like this. Awesome stuff, right? Times have changed just a wee bit. This commercial came out in 1991. I promise you the internet I met in 1995 was much slower than Prodigy demonstrated!

I really haven’t been teaching THAT long, but I do remember teaching without constant contact with the internet. When I was student teaching, I had a website that I made from scratch with a product called Claris Homepage. Despite being in an affluent district, I don’t recall any computer labs. I’m sure we had them, but we rarely used them. During my first teaching job, I taught myself Microsoft Frontpage and then a few years later I learned Macromedia Dreamweaver. I thought I was pretty tough at that point. All my students made “webfolios” using Dreamweaver, thanks to the guidance of Ted Nellen. At that point, no one was teaching web design in an English classroom. The idea of writing a hypertext document was, well, revolutionary. I think it was around 2006 that blogging platforms and wikis became a possibility in schools. Ah, the web 2.0 era!

The web 2.0 era changed the way most teachers envisioned technology. It seemed like Twitter was exploding with hundreds of tool shares every day. I couldn’t keep up. At that time, I probably focused more on the new tool and then thought about how it would impact the classroom. It was around 2009 that I started to ask myself, “Why are these tools important? What is it about our society makes these experiences worthwhile.” Some time around then, I saw the infamous “Did you Know 4.0” (see below). [youtube][/youtube]

Lots of jaws hit the floor when this video came out because, well, most classrooms that I saw weren’t reflecting the digital environment students were entering. Heck, some schools were just getting started on their acceptable use policies. Thankfully, the flood died and reality hit. I asked myself, “So, what? How do these tools change what I do?”


This is where SAMR and TPACK can be helpful. When exploring web 2.0 tools, it’s important to analyze the impact the tool might have and how my understanding of pedagogy and content might sync to create an effective experience. Here’s a good example of how one teacher designed her lesson with TPACK in mind.

You’ll go through this same thought process.

As you explore web 2.0 tools, think about which might assist you in creating transformative experiences. No tool is a good choice just because it’s cute. Think bigger than that.

The biggest repository of web 2.0 tools can be found at Cool Tools for Schools Wiki. Frankly, you could also Google something like “Teachers’ favorite web 2.0 tools.” See what you find.

In our class, we’ll be creating group presentations and then sharing those discoveries to our class and the world. As you hunt for a tool you’re curious about, consider it’s value and cost as you consider how it can transform classrooms.



Oh How Times Have Changed

About nine years ago, maybe even longer ago, I joined a listserv on Eric Crump’s Interversity. The group consisted of dozens of dedicated English teachers. It was there I got my first taste of digital networking. Even at the time, I knew I was a part of something special. As far as I knew, no one around me was partaking in something like that. I soaked up the discussions rich with professionalism and innovation.

Two years into my joining, I noticed a few of them started talking about Constructivism and webfolios. I was intrigued and started soaking up everything Dawn and Ted were saying. Eventually I had my students creating webfolios and this was years before blogging and wikis. Those tools hadn’t been created yet. My school had a site license for Dreamweaver, so that’s what we used. If you’ve ever used it, you can imagine what a feat it was to use that tool in an English classroom that already has tons of content to cover.

Despite the hurdle, my students were pioneers in the art of digital creation and they were good at it. The webfolios contained their work, but it was so much more than just a place to house efforts. It was an artistic reflection of who they were.

Years have passed. Web 2.0 has arrived and now old hat. After some moving and exploration, I’m back in the classroom, but at a higher educational institution teaching written communications for the business world.

My Written Communication students this semester have demonstrated technology skills that have made them the perfect candidates to resurrect the webfolio concept, but with a twist. In the past, the webfolio was an informal creation. This time around, I wanted their creations to be professional — more like a digital portfolio they could use in the job market.

I decided to use Googlesites. Back in the day, it would take at least a week on and off in between other classroom activities to build the shells of the webfolios. I had them create google accounts (some already had one), make a site, fill out the description, change the security settings, share editing with me, build pages, change the theme, and set the footer. Even with me babbling directions, they were completely done with the shells in one hour.

I was stunned not only at their speed, but also in their ease. Sure, I answered questions, but they were rare and very easy. Back in the Dreamweaver days, I would be exhausted after an hour.

This particular class made for a great test group because almost all of them use their moble devices for more than just phone calls and they handled an earlier technology assignment with fantastic ease. I knew this would be a success, but I didn’t think it would be that easy. While I was showering them with comments, I’m sure they were thinking, “yeah, what’s the big deal?”

Oh how times have changed!

Ways to Challenge Your Skills

As part of my goal to share educational technology with teachers, I thought I’d share seven weeks worth of tools with you! So go ahead, give it a try! Remember, that your product doesn’t have to be perfect. Just giving it your best will expose you to some useful skills down the road. I hope you see just how fun these Web 2.0 tools can be!

Week One

This first week asks you to play with a great Web 2.0 tool called Wordle. Wordle creates word clouds from text you type or paste in. Based on frequency, Wordle makes some text larger. Of course, you can alter your Wordle product once you’ve entered in text.

You can use Wordle to create poety, review material (vocab, concepts, terms), make posters, or even analyze speeches (by seeing which words are larger, you can discuss a speaker’s word choice).

Wordle can be found at

Here’s a nice handout on our challenge (thank you Rita Mortenson).

If you’ve already used Wordle, then try Tagxedo, which adds a new twist to what Wordle started.

If you are lacking any necessary downloads (java)  to use Wordle, contact Jessica (ext. 4110).

Remember to smile and have a great time. After you’ve made a wordle, save it to the public gallery and email Jessica the direct link to your Wordle OR you can download it and just email it as an attachment. If you want help doing that, let Jessica know.

Here’s a nice video explaining how to make a Wordle:


Week Two

A few of you have already used Animoto. For those of you that have not, Animoto is a great tool to share images, tell a story, demonstrate an idea, build emotional appeals, et cetera.

Animoto can be found here.

Here are three examples of how Jessica has used Animoto:

  1. Star of the Week video for Jessica’s daughter Jenna — Jessica emailed this to her teacher the day Jenna started star of the week. (Scored major points with the daughter!)
  2. The Veteran’s Day here in New Glarus
  3. The different honor guards in the Beloit area

Animoto makes it easy to upload photos (or video) and they have plenty of music to pick through. Most people just use the free version of Animoto, but keep in mind your video can only be 30 secondsUNLESS you apply for an Educator Account. Educator Accounts are not approved automatically, so apply long before you actually need a video longer than 30 seconds. You could, as Jessica did, just purchase the yearly “all access” account.

Animoto also gives embeddable code so you can watch videos on blogs and websites. See the video embedded below? Jessica will show you how to embed Animoto Videos in your website or blog, if you like.

Here’s a nice handout on our challenge (thank you Rita Mortenson).

Please remember that all videos and photos you upload have to be your property.

Come on! Make an account! Find some photos or videos you took and have a great time! After you made an Animoto Video, send Jessica the link to video.



Week Three

Here’s an Edtech Challenge to put a smile on your face. Blabberize is humorous but can be made educational, should you desire. It gives kids a great chance to create a project, demonstrate understanding, and still have fun doing so.

The basic concept of Blabberize is to upload a photo, place a mouth on the page, and then record audio as if the subject in the photo were talking. Perhaps the subject could be narrating a story, explaining a process, suggesting an idea, et cetera.

Here’s Jessica’s practice Blabberize experience where the photo was simply taken with a cell phone and then sent to her Gaggle account (that’s Abby giving you a brief introduction on what Blabberize is). Below you’ll find some more.

More examples that might get you thinking:

Here’s a nice handout on our challenge (thank you Rita Mortenson).

Come on! Make an account! Find a photos and plan a quick mini-lesson, a welcome message, a summary, et cetera using Blabberize! After you made a Blabberize sample, send Jessica the link to it.


Week Four Challenge

This challenge asks you to consider blogging in the classroom or for your own reflection. Blogging can serve many purposes — communication of assignments or upcoming units, discussion, or just personal reflection. For many, blogging allows people the chance to publish a website without having to know the code behind web design.

Basic Explanation of a Blog:


Educational Blogs to Look at:

Educational Reformers: 



More Blogs!


Where do You Make a Blog?

You have several choices. Here are the three most popular: WordPressBlogger, and Edublogs.

What do You do With a Blog?

That’s up to you! Use it to share links and information, communicate with parents, or reflect on educational issues. After you make your blog, start experimenting by changing the theme and adding in photographs. Give it a visual twist that is representative of your personality. As you become a skilled blogger, you will learn to add in widgets and code to bring extras to your blog like the weather, movies, and clip art. That’ll be down the road.

How do You Get Visitors?

Well, for some writers, visitors are not important. That will come with time. For now, you just need to share your blogs URL with others (for example:


If you want help making a blog, Jessica would be very happy to do that with you. Remember to email her your blog URL! Have fun.


Week Five

This week’s challenge kicks off with animation! There are two fabulous tools out there that allow teachers and kids to create digital cartoons that are challenging and engaging. Students can demonstrate understanding and learn new skills along the way. Teachers can share information and capture attention digitally. While many cartoons are probably just created for fun, there certainly is great potential for educational use.

Here’s an example of how a kindergartner teacher might make one for his or her classroom using Toondoo.


Here’s another example using Go Animate!. The creator summarized (and translated) a very short scene from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.

Like it? Create your own at It’s free and fun!

Give it a try and see what you think. Lots of students and teachers use these two tools in schools everyday. Explore, be creative, and have fun!

Please keep in mind, that with any general public gallery of tools, there might be controversial content. This is, of course, why it’s important to preview the tools yourself and roll through teachable moments with professionalism. Should you or your students find any content you dislike, you can always flag those entries for removal.


Week Six

This edtech challenge asks you to create a voki. Vokis are customizable avatars that can record audio. You can have students respond to a question or maybe pretend to be a character. It’s up to you. The finished product can be emailed or even embedded on a blog. There are many choices! Click here to get started on Voki’s website. If you need help with a lesson plan idea, the Voki website has lots of ideas. This website is also a great resources as it details out all the features of a voki. If you need help making a voki with your students, I would love to help.

Turn your speakers on.


Week Seven

This week’s challenge offers you another option when presenting or delivering information in person or digitally. Prezi is a great tool to use for presentations. Imagine taking an infinite white space and laying your presentation out on it in little piles. That’s basically what Prezi does only with many more bells and whistles. Prezi let’s the user lay everything out, pick an order, but then let the observer zoom in and out seeing presentation up close or in its entirety. Prezi allows for video and photo embedding easier than Power Point does. And the best part — the presentation is stored in the cloud. No more H drive, flash drive, or digital locker. If you’re looking for a new presentation tool, think about Prezi. It is a lot of fun and very versatile.

Here’s a Prezi on why Prezi is a great tool:

Here’s a Prezi covering vocabulary for Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.

So how did you do? Did you learn something new?!

QR Code Test

This is my attempt at a QR Code Test. If you got here as a result of taking a snapshot of a QR code, then it worked! Whoohoo!

This is Mrs. Brogley. I’m the Technology Coordinator for the New Glarus School District. I am exploring QR codes and how they could be used in school. I was curious how much teenagers already knew about them.

Can you leave me a comment telling me how you use QR Codes? Please leave me your first name and grade (if you like chocolate). I’d really like to learn more about how you can use QR Codes!


Mrs. Brogley

Quia Rocks!

I’ve never been a fan of objective testing. I’m more of a project based person, but there certainly have been times where I just want to know if students gained knowledge. I’ve also used objective testing at the end of a  term when I just a few hours to before grades are due. I remember many years ago when I would beg my friends to help me grade multiple choice exams because grades were due the next day. Those days quickly drew to a close when I found Quia! First I tried the 30 day free trial and immediately knew it was worth the money. I purchased it myself and simply wrote it off on my taxes. A couple of years later I asked for the school to purchase it and they agreed. Better yet, I started sharing the account with the other teacher that teaches the same classes. Boy, did my account expand! Below you’ll find good reasons for using quia:

  1. It’s cheap. $49 bucks is nothing for what it gives you and if you share the account, it’s even more justifiable.
  2. Your students can self-enroll. After you make your classes, which takes about 2 seconds, Quia will make a handout for you so students can self-enroll in your Quia course.
  3. Each quiz can contain multiple choice, matching, fill in the blank, short answer, etc. Everything but essay and short answer is graded for you instantly.
  4. Questions and answer choices can be randomized. It’s REALLY hard to cheat on Quia.
  5. Feedback can be given for each question, if you want.
  6. Immediately after a student finishes their quiz or test, they can receive feedback, a score, & the right answers (if you choose).
  7. Quia offers a “sharing” community where you can copy and alter already created quizzes and tests. So if I’m looking for a test on Julius Caesar Act IV, I can copy one and alter it to fit my curriculum.
  8. For those of you that are math teachers, you can upload images. So if you draw a mathmatical formula or problem that can’t be typed out, that’s okay. Do it in paint or on your SMARTboard and upload it as a graphic. The same goes with sound. I gave my students spelling tests. I recorded audio of me saying words and they had to type them out.
  9. Besides assessment, Quia offers thousands of games like battleship, rags to riches, jeopardy, flashcards, et cetera for you to easily make educational games.
  10. You can make your own games for kids to play specific to your curriculum. The kids actually like the games and forget that they’re actually learning (gasp!).
  11. After kids take their assessments, you can see all sorts of reports per student and per class. That data makes for a great review after the test. I think back to those early years when I would stay up late grading and I’d pass them back and be to spent to really assess the rationale behind those scores. I just moved on to the next unit. With Quia the data behind the test answers has already been crunched for me. I just have to look at it and talk about it with my class.
  12. Quia offers an easy survey tool for your classes.
  13. Quizzes and games can be rolled over into future years.

You get control over the questions, you see data, and you can make games. It’s well worth the 50 dollars!!

Thoughts After Reading “Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology”

by Collins and Halverson (2009)

I finished this book awhile back and have been meaning to write about what it has to offer a reader. I really like what Collins and Halverson had to say. I already agreed with their points, so this was an easy read for me. Collins and Halverson present two sides of the story — the enthusiast’s and the skeptic’s side. Both of which are very apparent in any school today. They also explain the evolution of education through the eras and how those changes have impacted reform.

Collins and Halverson point out that our students will need two unique skills — the skill of being able to be a successful life-long learner and expertise with informational technologies. Students need to be willing to persue further education, some times on the fly, and then be able to learn additional technologies. I find it interesting that I used the term “students”, but really everyone needs to be able to do this. We are at that point where every adult and young adult needs to have these habits and skills. We need to be constantly learning new information and skills, but it’s not enough to just learn facts. We need to synthesize our learning either that be in the form of writing, video, audio, building, et cetera.

As I’ve gotten older, I have often thought about diversifying myself as a teacher and leader often asking myself, “What else can I learn?” For me, though, it’s a passion. It’s fun. Lucky for me, I’ve directed myself to a career that I find fun. This means that learning is more like a game than actual work. Currently, I’m experiencing a hurdle that is putting my beliefs to the test. I was hired as a Technology Coordinator back in November, and while the majority of the position is my dream, there are aspects that make me very uneasy because I am not well versed in areas related to network and server maintenance. Granted, I wasn’t hired to do that, but it would certainly be to my advantage to learn as much as I can. In this particular case the learning curve is wicked, but because I have that drive to learn, I am sure I will get to where I want to be. Despite my age (I’m not a “digital native”), I still have a drive for learning new technologies and solving problems. I think this is a quality our kids have and we need to support them. Flexible learning is important for anyone today — we do not all learn in the same way nor should we all learn the same things. Whether we like it or not, technology can help us work our way through this era.

As society has swallowed this reality, we have put more computers in the classroom or tossed in a technology course here and there. Sure, those are probably good additions, but are schools and teachers really changing the way they think about learning? Collins and Halverson would suggest that the change is slow. If we were to let students determine their own mediums for learning that would mean we would have to give up some of the control and trust that students will make the right choice. Guess what folks? For the past several decades we’ve been making the choices for our kids and it hasn’t always been right either. There can certainly be a melding of student choice and adult guidance that will help our students enjoy learning and explore new skills and concepts.

Collins and Halverson would also suggest that we need to focus more on skill based learning than fact based learning (15). Many of our occupations today require a solid education, but also the need for “just-in-time” learning that comes with the ability to ask good questions, conduct wise research, and think through problems. Guiding students through this process will empower them to take control of their own learning — now this is the type of learning that transcends disciplines. I think of a teacher I was working with this week that had her students creating videos demonstrating propaganda techniques. My role was to offer assistance when asked. What was interesting and yet not surprising at all, was the students just tinkered through the tool I handed to them — Jaycut. They had never used it before, but they already had enough background knowledge to know what to do with it. A few made mistakes or the program hiccuped thus locking up their browser, but the students had the perseverance to keep working towards the finish line. I only coached a group here and there for no more than three minutes. The teacher and I were clearly the guides on the side and that’s the way it should be.

Collins and Halverson point out both sides of Technology Integration — the enthusiasts and the skeptics. Even though I side with the enthusiasts, I do see some of the points a skeptic might observe as Collins and Halverson point out. For example, if we allow students to determine the path of their own learning and focus on skills, it could be a reasonable assumption that students might not perform well on standarized testing (45). While this could be true, I am a bit disheartened that schools have put so much stake in standardized testing. That is a whole different blog post, I suppose.

Collins and Halverson will leave you with many ideas for change. I’ll list just a few below:

  • “Simply inserting technology into classrooms and schools without considering how the contexts for learning need to change will likely fail” (140). I couldn’t agree more. While I do think it is important to share new tools, the ultimate goal is to change the way we think about learning.
  • “We need to think about how to integrate nonschool resources into learning environments” (140). Schools need to open their doors to all sorts of resources for educational use. Our tools no longer need to come from a textbook company or cost tens of thousands of dollars.
  • “Learning [plans] might involve taking online courses, going to a learning centerfor specialized training, getting a technical certification in some area, joining an apprenticeship program, or learning from a computer-based tutorials to enhance particular skills” (142). The point that the authors are making here is that students should be able to create a plan for self discovery that includes a variety of learning avenues. I think back to my high school days — we all sat in the same classroom and we all received the same information. Rarely was education customized. Those days should be in the past.

Overall, the book is worth the $15 dollars. Put it in the hands of a teacher and hope it sparks change. I would love to engage in conversation with anyone that read the book.