Lesson Plan

Check Me Out!

Community Building Through Digital Storytelling
Emily S.
Technology coordinator
Holly Hills Elementary School
Denver, CO
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My Grades K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
My Subjects English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies
EdTech Mentor

Students will be able to...

Communicate: Create meaning strategically in reading, writing, speaking and listening.

Enduring Understanding: Audience influences communication.

Essential Questions:
1. How do I design and create an interesting digital narrative?
2. How can I hook and hold my audience?

To build classroom community, students will share a narrative story that includes  3 - 5 things about themselves through digital media.  They will plan, revise, and edit relevant details in order to develop an organized, well-structured piece of writing that they will publish using technology.  This a great getting-to-know-you activity!

English Language Arts
Grades 5 - 6
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Hook

Free, Free to Try

The teacher introduces herself by sharing a video highlighting 3 - 5 important things about herself using the tellagami app & imovie. 

Click here to see the example.



2 Planning their Narrative

Google Drive
Free, Paid
Comic Life
Free to Try, Paid

First, students need to plan their narrative and organize the events they will share. Using a program like google draw (which is an app in google drive) or Comic Life, students will create a graphic organizer to plan which 3 - 5 interesting things they will share about themselves.  As a class, brainstorm possible topics to include in their narrative.  Some ideas may include:

  • my family
  • my friends
  • my pets
  • sports and/or hobbies
  • something interesting about me

Click here to see an example of a student's plan using google draw.  Click here to see a plan using Comic Life (from the teacher). 

3 Direct Instruction

Next, students need to organize how they will tell their story in order to hook and hold their audience. You Tube has some great instructional videos like this one that help teach the art of digital storytelling: The 7 elements of digital storytelling.

There are 7 things to keep in mind when creating a digital story:

1. Point of view: What is the purpose of the story? Persuade? Inform? Entertain?

2. Dramatic/essentail question: What questions are being answered in this story?

3. Emotional Content: What kind of personal connection is the story trying to get across to the viewer?

4. Voice: Digital stories have an element that written stories do not. Using your own voice tells the story in a way that written words alone can't do.

5. Soundtrack: Use sound effects and music to compliment your digital story. 

6. Pacing: Does the story give the viewer time to absorb the pictures so that the pictures can help tell the story?

7. Economy: Are there the rigth number of pictures in the story to keep the viewers attention?


4 Guided Practice

Using the elements of digital storytelling as a guide, students will map out how they want to organize their story.

  • In what order will you share your events?
  • What pictures will you use to share your story?
  • What will you say in your story?

Next, students need to begin finding pictures to help tell their story. With parent permission, students can bring pictures from home, or students can search the internet for pictures that represent their ideas. 

This is an opportunity to teach students about image and/or music copyright. Teach students how to search for images and check for a watermark to determine if the image is free to use or not. Common Sense Media has some great resources for teaching about copyright and fair use. Try this lesson called A Creator's Rights, which introduces students to copyright, fair use, and the rights they have as creators.


5 Independent Practice

Free, Free to Try

To begin creating their story in tellagami, first students must save their pictures to the camera roll on the iPad. Then, the pictures can be uploaded as the background in tellagami. Each background picture must be recorded and saved to the camera roll as a separate "gami." 

Now students are ready to put it all together in iMovie. *Note* Using the iMovie app will save A LOT of time and effort, but it can be done with iMovie on the computer as well. 

Using the iMovie app, students add each "gami" they recorded into one movie (not a trailer). They can also choose to add sound effects, music, and transitions to their final story. When they are finished putting all the pieces they created into one movie, they can save their story to the camera roll, then upload it to their google drive.

*Note* Emailing the final movie to yourself does not always work because the file is often too large. That is why I recommend saving to the camera roll and uploading it directly to google drive. If you or your students do not have google drive, you can also upload to dropbox.

6 Sharing

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Now it's time to share! When students have created their movie, they can embed it into a google site to share with others. If students create their own eportfolios, this is a great introduction for a portfolio, and google sites has a privacy setting that allows students to share their site only with the people they choose.

If you want to put all the stories in one place in order to share with the class easily, Padlet is a good choice. The teacher creates a Padlet for the "Check Me Out" stories, and when students have uploaded their story to their google drive (or dropbox account), they simply share the video so that anyone with the link can view, copy the url, and paste it into the padlet so their class can view their digital stories.