5th Grade Digital Storytelling


Students tell an autobiographical event using a beginning middle and end of a story. Students should be able to map story out prior to publishing. Final product will be student's story presented on a digital storyteller.

Tools/Resources for StoryTelling:

Popcorn MakerCreate stories using Google Maps, You Tube, Twitter, HTML files, and more. The final product can be used and edited by others.
KidsVid For use of Video Production - an instructional website to help teachers and students use video production in class to support project-based learning.
PowToonIncorporate animation to create professional looking clips. This is used widely for business presentations but can be used to make learning fun!
Animoto - I have used this many times with middle school for all sorts of projects
FlixTime - I have introduced this in middle school before and sometimes kids choose it when given options - they seem to like it
Screenr - for making easy screen casts - much like ScreenCast-o-matic
VoiceThread - one of my absolute favorites - useful k-12 and beyond! So versatile and great for collaborative stories! Students create comic style stories with some animation and music all built in. Premade story boards allow students to play with editing. Allows students to create avatars to tell a story, free voki is limited to 60 seconds. Allows students to make a picture talk. This could be used to have a picture tell a story.

Lesson Plan:

Lesson Plan for Digital Storytelling.

Lesson I
  1. Students will watch teacher produced example done in Animoto.
  1. Students will see the process that teacher went through to create.
    1. Wrote out beginning, middle, and end.
    2. Matched pictures and text with beginning, middle, and end.
    3. Put pictures and text into Animoto to create video.
    4. Assign students the task of coming up with their autobiographical event and have them begin brainstorming ideas.
    5. Give students the following rubric that will be used for grading:
Autobiographical Grading Rubric
Product Unfinished
Product is missing key elements: beginning, middle, or end.
Product is at grade level
Product is above grade level.
Poor conventions with spelling and grammar
Spelling and grammar have minimal mistakes
Spelling and grammar have no mistakes
Product has added text, pictures, and videos.
Product is sloppy and does not meet grade level requirements
Product is choppy and does not flow.
Product has beginning, middle, end, and text.

  1. Give students the following template to fill out:

My Autobiographical Storytelling Template Name: _ Date:_

Title Page
Sketch of Image
Sketch of Image
Sketch of Image
Sketch of Image

Lesson II
  1. Teach students how to use the Animoto storytelling website.
  2. Students will begin uploading pictures and videos for their stories.
  3. Students will add text to their stories.
  4. Students will choose music for their stories.
Lesson III
  1. Students share their autobiographical stories with the class.

* Students Self Assess for Learning

Tools/Resources for Self Assessment

Lesson Plan

Follow the link to view a short video to understand how to use to deliver a personal interest survey and view student results.

Lesson Plan for Students Self-Assessing for Learning

Objective – Students will create a rubric which will help them set goals for writing.

Hook – Show students chocolate chip cookie rubric
cookie rubric.png

Lesson 1
  • Go through rubric criteria and levels of desired cookie with students. Each student should have a copy of the rubric.
  • Check for understanding by asking students what different cookies might be rated based on different criteria.
  • Have students independently practice rating with real chocolate chip cookies.
  • Reflect as a group how the cookies were rated. Make sure students share rating based on evidence on the rubric.

Lesson 2 (Teacher facilitates, but students provide input)
  • Brainstorm as a group what good story writing should have.
    • o Encourage students to think about beginning, middle, end, problems, solutions, plots, spelling and grammar.
    • o Encourage students to think about bad and good examples.
  • Using SMARTboard slides or large sheets of paper, list out criteria items that students might use to assess writing.
  • Break apart criteria and then add columns of ratings.
  • More able students may be able to use a Rubistar story writing rubric ( to develop the product. Otherwise students can write or type up the rubric that was student created for their writing project.
  • Based on the rubric just created, have students set goals for their first writing project. They can highlight or color-code the squares of where they want their writing project to end. These rubrics should be kept somewhere in sight (on a wall, in front of a writing binder, in an Evernote folder), so students can refer to them as they create, revise and publish their work.
  • Students should grade their writing piece based on the student-created rubric.
  • The rubric can be revised for the next project or new goals could be set using the same rubric for the next writing project as a reflective exercise.

*Students Set and Track Goals

Tools/Resources for Setting and Tracking Goals:

Deadline Dates - Breaking projects down into manageable sections can help to pace the work of a larger project and help students manage their time better. Posting a calendar on the class website of due dates of specific portions of an assignment is yet another tool that puts the power of management and responsibility into the students' hands.

Checklists - like rubrics, are an easy way for students to keep track of what they need to get done, and whatever they need to remember in the course of getting it done. Making checklists with students - either individually or as a group - is a nice way to involve them in the process and to put emphasis on the parts teacher and students agree are valuable to include.

Rubrics - Rubistar is a nice online rubric maker. It makes it easy to customize your rubrics to fit specific projects and assignments, and to put clear goals into kid-friendly language. If you use a wiki for your class page, you can easily put a rubric in table form on your wiki, or just put up your rubric as a downloadable file. This way, students can have access to the rubric at all times.

Lesson Plan:


The following are items that students need at the beginning of the project. They should be posted on the class website, and reviewed frequently (daily) with the class.

CLASS PROJECT CALENDAR - this lets students visually see due dates

CHECKLIST - ALIGNED WITH THE PROJECT CALENDAR - this could also be a downloadable form HERE:
Check when done

Week of 2/11 to 2/15
Arc of a Story - This week, we will be working on the ideas for our stories. You may draw your arc on paper, or create it with word processing or other tool that allows you to draw and put text on the page. Story arc MUST contain the following information: Setting, Main Characters, Problem, Crisis, Climax, Resolution. To submit your story arcs, take a clear picture of them, and upload them to your blog post titled "My Story Arc".

Week of 2/18 to 2/22
Story Script - This week we will be working in class to write our scripts. These are to be composed in GoogleDrive (make sure you share your doc with me and with your partner (if you have one). Throughout the week we will review and revise these. Make sure your script follows the Story Arc you outlined last week.

Week of 2/25 to 3/1
Storyboards - This week you will use the Storyboard That tool to create your storyboard. This is a rough idea of how your story that you have outlined in the arc, and told in more detail in your script, will look when it is in visual form. Final storyboards are to be embedded in student blog posts titled "My Storyboard".

Week of 3/4 to 3/8
Images - This week we will review the presentation software you will use for your digital story, and you will either a) take pictures to get the images you need, b) collect and cite images from online sources, or c) a combination of both. Following your storyboard, place the images in the order they will appear in your story. If you have title slides, or transition title pages, be sure to include them.

Week of 3/11 to 3/15
Putting it all together - This week we will work on creating the voiceover on your presentation, and searching for and adding the appropriate music for your story. You will add guiding text (if necessary) to certain slides (remember - no more than 5 words per slide). Make sure your show is working properly, and check each of the categories in the Project Rubric. By Friday, the show should be converted to the proper format, and uploaded to a new blog post titled "My Digital Story".

PROJECT RUBRIC - Students should have access to this throughout the project, and particularly in the final week. This should also serve as the scoring rubric for the project. The rubric could be expanded to include "shades of done", but I find that especially with younger students who are new to working with these types of projects, a clear rubric (done/not done) sets a clear minimum standard. As they get more experience with this type of work, an expanded rubric would be appropriate.
Not Ready Yet
Images create a distinct atmosphere or tone that matches different parts of the story. The images may communicate symbolism and/or metaphors.
I just grabbed images that relate to my story but they are not symbolic and don't really add to the mood.
Images Number
I have a minimum of 10 images in my presentation, with no more than 5 words per image. I have no slides of text only except title slides.
I have less than 10 images. Some of my images have more than 5 words on them (you can use more images and spread out the text)
Images - Citing
Images that are not mine have proper citation in small italics on the bottom right of the image.
I have used images that are not mine but have not cited them.
Voice - Consistency
Voice quality is clear and consistently audible throughout the presentation.
Voice quality is not clear throughout the the presentation. There are some words I didn't pronounce correctly and I may have spoken too fast or not loud enough.
Soundtrack - Emotion
Music stirs a rich emotional response that matches the story line well.
The music does not really match the story - it is too fast, too slow, too cheerful, or too sad. It is music I may like, but it does not really go with the story.
Soundtrack - volume
Music is at a volume level that can be heard, but doesn't overwhelm narration.
Music is set either too loud (I can barely hear the narration), or too soft (almost not noticeable)
The story is told with exactly the right amount of detail throughout. It does not seem too short nor does it seem too long.
The story needs a lot of editing. It is too long or too short to be interesting, and some parts are explained too much or not enough.
Grammar and usage were correct and contributed to clarity, style and character development.
There are noticeable errors in grammar and usage and they distract from the story.
Duration of Presentation
Length of presentation was X minutes. I am within 1 minute longer/shorter range of the requirement.
Presentation is far less than X minutes long OR far more than X minutes long.
Point of View - Purpose
Establishes a purpose early on and maintains a clear focus throughout.
It is, at times, difficult to figure out the purpose of the presentation.

*Analysis of Student Differences and Tools for Analysis


Multiple intelligences varies from student to student. Educators can use this information to help their students to understand new concepts and retain new information by learning their students learning style and incorporating this into daily lessons. Thanks to today’s technology, educators have access to many online resources and questionnaires to quickly and easily identify a learning style and what this means for each individual.
Learn more about learning styles and teaching tips at

Tools/Resources for Analysis of Student Differences: Activity for teacher to identify student learning styles – visual, audio, or kinesthetic Student questionnaire to find learning style. Results show what percentage of learning is visual, audio or kinesthetic Questionnaire to find more specific learning styles. Based on the 8 learning styles model.

Lesson Plan:

  • Using a computer with Internet access, have students take the learning styles assessment at
  • Explain to students the three basic learning styles: visual, audio, or kinesthetic using this Powerpoint presentation:
  • Break students up into three groups based on their learning styles. Have each group create a poster listing characteristics of their learning style and tips on how to increase success in school. Use the site or allow students to Google information.
  • Have students create a Word document listing each student in their group to place above the poster for future reference.
  • Within each group, brainstorm ways in which to create a digital story using strategies within their learning style. Students create a poster with these ideas. Post this on the wall next to the learning styles poster.

*Formative Assessments

Tools/Resources for Formative Assessments

Storyboard That - Online Storyboard Creator
VoiceThread - presentations
PowerPoint - presentations
Keynote - presentations
SlideShare - converts PowerPoint or Keynote to online presentations

Fiction Writing Lesson - to supplement lessons 2 and 3

Lesson Plans:

This is a series of lessons - teacher will modify for time. Approximate time would be about 2 to 3 weeks from start to finish.

Lesson 1: The Arc of a Story

  1. On the overhead or board, write “Main Character”, “Antagonist”, “Setting”, “Problem”, “Crisis/Climax”, and “Resolution”. Review the terms.
  2. Review with students a story they are all familiar with (a fairy tale, a popular movie, etc. ).
  3. As a group, have students fill in the categories for the sample story you are using.
  4. Draw an arc, the place the terms (story elements) where they belong on the arc. Emphasize the idea that a story can be looked at like an arc – we get to know the characters, a problem is introduced, action/tension builds to a crisis point, then there is resolution. During the action/tension/crisis phase, one or more main characters usually undergo some kind of change, or are able to effect change. Emphasize that resolution does not always fix the problem, but addresses it in a realistic way (even if the story is fantastical).
  5. Optional – Create a form with a story arc and elements, then challenge students or groups of students to fill them in with known stories of their choosing.

Lesson 2: Creating a Story Arc

  1. Decide what type/genre of story your students will be creating (if necessary, do a review of the important elements of the genre). Students may work individually, in pairs, or in small groups on stories (this should be decided during planning).
  2. The first step for students will be to create and fill in their own story arc. Emphasize that although they do not need all of the details, they will need a general idea of the main story elements.
  3. See attached lesson I use for “Fiction Writing” as one way to guide students through this particular process.

Lesson 3: Creating a script

  1. At this point, students (individually or in groups) will need to write their script – this is essentially the written form of their story (see attached “Fiction Writing” lesson). If the story were not digitized, this would be the written form. Students may do these in GoogleDrive or a Wiki for collaborative work and easy editing/feedback from the teacher.

Lesson 4: Creating a story table or story board

  1. Show students examples of story boards and explain how they work.
  2. Take one of the stories you used for an example in Lesson 1 “The Arc of a Story”. On the overhead or SmartBoard, project the website for Storyboard That. Briefly show students how it works (a very simple program) and create a storyboard for your example story you are already familiar with. If you only have an overhead or SmartBoard and students do not have computers, do this several times as a class activity for formative assessment, and have students participate as much as possible.
  3. If you have enough computers for each student or for small groups to share, put up the link to Storyboard That on your class page so that students can access it easily. Give them about 20 minutes to set up their accounts, and then just play and familiarize themselves with Storyboard That. For the free program, they can create 3 storyboards per week, so make sure they leave room for their main one they will be working on.
  4. Give them another (short) sample story they are familiar with and have them create their own storyboards for it on Storyboard That.
  5. Once you are sure they are getting the concept, tell them they will now begin the work of story boarding their script on Storyboard That.
  6. When their storyboards are finished they can post them on their blogs or web pages with the embed code provided. This can give teacher and other students an opportunity to see and provide feedback to their storyboards.

Lesson 5: Moving to Imagery

  1. Now it’s time to bring the stories to life through imagery. You may want students to use images from some spaces you have selected on the web (be sure to review copyright and show students how to give credit, or choose fair use or creative commons images). You may want the students to only use images that they take themselves. Establish your requirements up front.
  2. Give students a demonstration of VoiceThread. Either set up their accounts on your class account, or have them sign up for their own (limited number can be made for free). Give them some class time to play with VoiceThread. Be sure to show how voice and sound can be added, and make sure they try these features out on their own.
  3. Give students a demonstration of PowerPoint or Keynote. Give them class time to play with the tool. Be sure to show how voice and sound can be added and make sure they try out these features on their own.
  4. Have a class discussion where you get feedback from the students about what they liked, disliked, or had questions about regarding VoiceThread, PowerPoint, or Keynote. Tell them that they will have a choice for which one they will use for their Digital Story.

Lesson 6: The Digital Work

  1. During the next phase, students will be working to gather images that go with their storyboard, working with the web tools and software, and working out technical issues such as music, voice over, etc. Students using VoiceThread will need to learn how to embed their projects into their websites, and students using Keynote or PowerPoint will need to learn to use SlideShare in order to upload and convert their presentations and get an embed code so that they can be viewed online. Most of the work of the teacher during this time will be spent with individuals and small groups assisting with these issues. Make sure students have checklists and rubrics handy to regularly self-assess their work. Teacher should be giving frequent feedback during this phase.
  2. This phase ends when projects are posted online. At this point, they are ready for show. This can be done via in-class presentations or any other way since they are online. Encourage students (and parents) to leave comments.

*Summative Assessments

Overview: Assessment considerations for digital storytelling differ depending upon what the purpose of the assignment is. When evaluating digital stories, the University of Houston has suggested ten elements that may serve as a useful set of guidelines for criteria by which digital storytelling projects created by students might be evaluated:

  1. 1. The Overall Purpose of the Story
  2. 2. The Narrator’s Point of View
  3. 3. A Dramatic Questions or Questions
  4. 4. The Choice of Content
  5. 5. Clarity of Voice
  6. 6. Pacing of the Narrative
  7. 7. Use of a Meaningful Audio Soundtrack
  8. 8. Quality of the Images
  9. 9. Economy of the Story Detail
  10. 10. Good Grammar and Language use

Summative assessments are used to determine if students have mastered specific competencies and to identify instructional areas that need additional attention. Specifically, if students are creating “How to presentations, their final or summative assessment would be their digital story.

Tools/Resources for Summative Assessments

Sample rubrics:

Lesson Plan

Digital Storytelling Lesson Plan: Tell a Personal Story
Multi-disciplinary: Art, Language Arts, Technology, Music, Social Studies

Title: Digital Storytelling
Grade Level: 9-12
NCTE/IRA English standards addressed:
4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
8. Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, employment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Goal(s): To engage students in using electronic media to tell a personal story using technology

Time Required:
  • One class period to define digital storytelling and show examples.
  • One week out of class to gather materials
  • One week to prepare final report
Specific Outcomes:
  • Students will be able to describe the three major concepts of digital storytelling.
  • Students will create a story that is structured with a beginning, middle, and end.
  • Students will use a range of media, such as sound, animations, photos, and text to tell a story.
  • Students will ensure that their media work together to convey the plot and emotion of the story.
  • Students will demonstrate the ability to express a personal experience using media technology.
Required Materials:
  • Mac or PC with appropriate digital storytelling program such as iMovie, popcorn maker, Photo Story 3, or iPhoto.
  • Personal collection of digital photographs or digital camera.
  • Access to public domain or personally created music.
  1. Ensure that you understand the specific definition of a digital story and that you have reviewed several excellent examples.
  2. Outline a concept for a digital story. You may wish to go over your personal pictures to build something from existing images or you may create a concept and take photographs to build your story.
  3. Determine whether you will include animations, voice over, or background music.
  4. Check on copyright protection.
  5. Put your digital story together and ensure that it is cohesive.
  6. Save your story in a format that we can share with the class and across Mac/PC platforms.
Closure: Reflection
Describe in a short essay the process you used to create this story, using the following questions as a guideline:
  • Did you stick with your original plan when creating your story, or did it change and evolve?
  • Describe the art of digital storytelling.
  • Describe any personal epiphanies or experiences you had while creating your digital story.
  • Describe how abstract symbols might be used to tell a story, rather than concrete representation.
Assessment: Students will be awarded a maximum of 20 points for fully addressing each of the specific outcomes provided above.
  • This activity is ideally suited for visual learners.
  • For students who are not accustomed to expressing themselves visually, you may wish to have them create an outline and submit it to you in advance.
  • Review the outline to ensure that you understand the important role of using visuals instead of text in this assignment.