Beginning the trek up StoryTeller Mountain

Photo credit: The Storyteller
Photo credit: Sparkle Box

Today we started our climb up the monumental Storyteller Mountain. The children had been equipped with ipads, copies of the ‘legends of the lake’ myth books and organized into groups of four to better help each other with the initial climb. The base of the mountain was relatively easy to traverse as the groups began to experiment and investigate with different storyTelling methods.

The groups generally took quite a long time to work their way through the first three pages of the ‘Enchanted Lake’ myth with some groups needing to be reminded about group collaboration, changing camera angles and suitable voice/character expression; however, I am glad to say that all of the groups successfully made it to the base camp at iMovie editing point.

After a suitably good night’s sleep we continued our journey up the iMovie editing point of the mountain. A few of the trekkers were very experienced with the ipad App ‘iMovie’ and were asked to help those trekkers who had little experience with the application. Initial problems were generally resolved within the groups themselves (however, these issues sometimes required us to discuss them as a whole class). I have included some of the issues encountered on the hike from the base camp at iMovie editing point:

  1. Speaker volume issues – the person speaking was often too quiet so the volume of the audio section of the movie needed to be increased.
  2. Arranging the videos in the correct order was difficult to begin with. The groups eventually realised that they could move the different videos within the iMovie timeline by keeping their finger pressed down on the chosen section of video and sliding it to another position on the timeline.

Overall, the first part of the mountain climb had gone well but I could already see that things were going to get much trickier as we moved closer to the peak.

Video One

First video completed by one of the groups. The filming and editing was completed by the group but the titles and music were added by me.

We began the third part of the climb today with the students split into pairs. This time they were asked to retell the whole story of ‘The Enchanted lake’ as opposed to just the first three pages. It was clear from a very early stage that this was going to be a long climb for many of the students.

The filming was much easier but it also became apparent that the climbers were definitely going to suffer from angle sickness – by this, I mean that the students were only really changing between one or two different camera shots. This undoubtedly made the storyTelling videos less engaging and appealing to the audience.

Another issue which seemed to hinder the students was background noise. This was to be expected with so many groups working in such a small, confined area. We tried to spread the groups out as much as we could but it was difficult to stop the background noise from affecting the final edits.

As the evening wore on it was clear that most of the groups had made it to the second base camp at iMovie editing ridge. After we had gathered round the campfire, we talked about some of the features the pairs might want to include when they were editing their movies. Here were a few of the features we discussed:

  1. Including some sound effects and titles – a limited introduction to this topic so it won’t become the focus of their videos.
  2. Reviewing cropping, splitting and duplicating individual video sections.
  3. Choosing and managing the transitions in an appropriate way.
  4. Possible reshooting of sections which weren’t up to standard.

Video two

This video was filmed, edited and produced entirely by the two boys featured in the video. The video was then exported and uploaded to my YouTube channel.

What next?

Well the next parts of the climb should prove to be the easiest; however, they may also prove to be the most difficult for those children who struggle with role-play, drama and the application iMovie. This is the part where the children will be doing everything independently (with the exception of the videoing part – which will be done by another member of the class). My major concerns with this section of the climb are based on three factors which the children have already struggled with.

  • Using varied camera angles to bring the story to life and engage the reader. I am thinking it would probably be better to have the children change their camera angle for every sentence of their chosen paragraph.
  • Making sure they remember their lines and look directly at the ipad’s camera lense. I am hoping they will make the decision to re-shoot any scene they feel isn’t good enough for their final cut.
  • Ensuring their voices are loud enough and interesting enough to engage the reader. This factor should be less of an issue as they know they can edit the recording’s sound to ensure the volume level is not too quiet or too loud.

In order to help the students with the final trek to the summit, I have created my own storyTelling video based on one of the children’s introductory paragraphs. The students will be able to access this iMovie any time they need to as I will send a link to their email accounts. I will also include another link to our class blog where the students can find their previous storyTelling imovie (if they don’t have a video then they can always check other student’s videos for ideas and improvements).

I hope that these tweaks and adjustments will provide the students with enough impetus to take them all the way to the summit. I have included a few extras which I hope the students might want to include in their final videos i.e. an opening title scene with sound track, images in between each video to give the storyTelling more purpose and credits to thank those involved in the movie making process.

To end with I include two quotes from mountaineering legend Edmund Hillary which I feel accurately capture the feeling of our journey to the summit of StoryTelling Mountain.

It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves

People do not decide to become extraordinary.They decide to accomplish extraordinary things

3 Replies to “Beginning the trek up StoryTeller Mountain”

  1. Wow! Thank you for posting such wonderful examples of student work. The genuine enthusiasm and dramatic efforts of your students is fantastic.
    Your description demonstrates the work it take to not only encourage storytelling but how to help students master and understanding film editing and the intricacies of i-movie. I appreciate how this project is a work in progress and that students can view their past videos and share with each other on your class blog. Your practical application of digital storytelling with your students provides true reflection and learning from the process, as opposed to an isolated project that is rushed for completion.
    This project reminded me of my favourite childhood storyteller, Robert Munsch. I have included a short video clip of some storytelling tips he has that you could share with your students: link to youtube.com He is a wonderful childrens’ author. (https://robertmunsch.com)
    Good luck with your mountaineering! I’m sure you and your students will reach that summit and produce some extraordinary productions.

  2. What fun! The kids got into their parts and delivered their lines with verve. I saw your suggestion that they should change the camera angle for every sentence and thought that might be too distracting to the audience. To help with memorization, the scenes could be cut into smaller takes, interspersing shots of the speaker with that of the listener, just like in the movies. Also, the kids could use big cue cards with shorter text so they can look at the cards and the camera simultaneously (if that is your goal). This is a great way for your students to learn about the ins and outs of iMovie. Practice makes perfect!

  3. Great Neil! I think the teacher actually doing the task they have assigned is effective on many levels. Not only does it inspire them but gives you a better idea of the challenges they may be facing and how they can be overcome.

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