Transmedia Time: DIGITAL Storytelling

Digital storytelling goes beyond text on a page. It uses a variety of interrelated technologies and approaches to tell a story.

Technology provides a wonderful way to explore a story. For instance, T.S. Eliot's Waste Land has been brought to life on the iPad. It takes the original text and enhances the experience.

How can your students tell stories in new ways through using technology?

Cathy Day created an interesting assignment called No Word Allowed. She asked students to write using a tool other than Microsoft Word using the features or powers of storytelling available in the media.

Check out the Twitter Mystery written entirely in Twitter. It was performed almost like a play because the postings were done "live".

Let's explore ways that technology can be connected to digital storytelling through maps, news, comics, artifacts, generators, and tools.

Maps in storytelling

Think of ways to combine maps with storytelling. Use Google Maps. Tell a story about where you went today and what you saw.

The N.E.R.D.S. book series is a great way to connect reading with a sense of place. Check out the NERDS Teacher's Guide. Get students involved in creating maps to go with their own stories. They may be stories written about your local area with familiar locations. Or, students can write about places they are learning about in class.

Many authors incorporate real and fictional maps into their projects. Read Developing the Fictional World through Mapping. It provides great ideas for connecting fiction writing with maps. At How to Draw a Map and Making Sinusoidal Maps, you'll learn how to use graphic tools to create a map.

Check out a series short stories written collaboratively in Google Maps called DARTING and Mr. Plimpton's Revenge is a travel story, and Taste is a series of food stories.

Read some interesting ideas related to creativity and Google Maps like What would Proust do with Google Maps? and How to Read Google Earth Like Proust.

Explore a Google Maps creative project assignment. Think about how you might adapt it for your own use.

Map Creators


Weave historical or current events into writing through the use of cover stories. Use TimesMachine or Newseum to kickoff a creative writing activity. Ask students to put themselves into the story and incorporate factual information.

Use historical newspapers from Chronicling America or Illustrated News to write about how a family might react to a news item.

Also use Magazine covers for inspiration such as Mad or Life. What would your parents, grandparents, or great, great grandparents be reading?

Go to the Freedom Riders Glogster example to see how newspapers, video, and photos can be incorporated.

Also look at other countries such as the British History library.


Graphic novels and online comics are a fun way to learn and share ideas.

Comic Creators

Use online science comics and activities to jumpstart student activities.

Use graphic memoirs like Fun House (preview in Google Books) to jumpstart an autobiographical project.

Combine maps, news clippings, and comics to create your own story. Use The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt for ideas. You can do the same for any time period such as the Civil War.


Increasingly, books are providing artifacts or connecting objects to a story. For instance, 1776 by David McCullough comes with documents and maps. Cathy's Book and Personal Effects: Dark Art come with evidence packets.

Think about ways to connect artifacts to writing activities. Explore Skulls by Simon Winchester, an iPad interactive book where you can explore skulls. Explore other cool resources and images include X is for X-Ray for iPad.

Incorporate museum artifacts into a story or work of nonfiction. Explore the Transmedia Indiana project for sample rubrics and materials. Watch a video of this project focusing on Indiana history. Go to the Transmedia Indiana website.

Explore local or national museums for artifacts such as the Smithsonian Museum Artifacts and Artefacts Canada. Use artwork from Google Art.

GENERATORS in storytelling

Incorporate generators into stories. Involve students in creating artifacts and materials to go along with their stories.

Image Generators

Create a mystery using a word cloud. Use key words, can you name the book?

Create a clickable word cloud that tells parts of a story out of order. Use SpeakingImage or Thinglink to create hotspots on a word cloud.

Word Cloud Generators

ReadWriteThink Generators

E-card generators are a great way to provide students with a quick way to share understandings.

Use the "make your own" project websites like Scholastic's Make Your Own.

Tools in storytelling

There are many online tools for storytelling. Many of these allow students to export their work for sharing on content curators such as only2clicks. For instance, using the Kerpoof website students can write stories about inventions.

Storytelling Tools

Content Curation Tools

Read Pecos Bill Rides a Tornado then use the Kerpoof movie maker to create a tall tale. Share it on a content curation site.

Animation Tools

Movie Tools

How do you use maps, news, comics, artifacts, generators, and tools to help students tell stories and communicate understandings. How could they be used?