BC Lynch School of Education Associate Professor Deoksoon Kim speaks to students at St. Columbkille Partnership School about a digital storytelling project she coordinated with Lynch School colleagues.

Digital storytelling seemingly overflows in today's technological society. The capacity to deploy video, photos, text -- even emojis -- is only as far away as the nearest smartphone. The challenge for teachers is to harness the power of these tools to enhance classroom teaching, as well as shape the ability of their students to tell cogent, meaningful stories that connect learning to life.

At Brighton's St. Columbkille Partnership School, a three-week digital storytelling project led by Associate Professors of Education Deoksoon Kim and David Scanlon concluded with a recent capstone event for sixth and seventh graders, who used their pictures, graphics, and videos to tell stories that touched on their class subjects, the community, and their own lives.

The students shared their personal stories with their classmates, making connections between their classwork this spring and their own experiences. Topics included urban gardening, cooking family recipes, personality traits, and potential careers.

Students in the digital storytelling class

VIDEO: Watch as year-end capstone projects at Boston's Saint Columbkille School stretch students' creativity and connect their teachers with Lynch School faculty research.

The 63 students worked with seven teachers, two Lynch School of Education graduate students and three BC undergraduate students during the course of the project, said Kim, who conducted the project as part of her research into technology and teaching.

In addition to assisting teachers with lessons and projects, Kim said her team conducted surveys, interviews and video analysis of students and teachers. All of the data will be reviewed to determine ways to strengthen digital storytelling curricula, she said.

“Teachers really love these tools,” said Kim. “Students are digital natives, so they are often more familiar with technology than their teachers. The students were very engaged and able to express themselves in detailed ways, showing their knowledge and sharing it with their classmates. Digital technology also allows students to share this experience with family and friends. It is an opportunity for them to see what they have done well and what they can do better the next time.”

The program asked students to make connections between their coursework, their own experiences and the community surrounding the Brighton K-8 school, which partners with BC on a range of initiatives.

“I thought it was a great hands-on project,” said Brittany Colford, an alumna of BC's School of Theology and Ministry who teaches science and religion at St. Columbkille. “The students were truly invested in it. It also helped focus on community involvement by taking field trips to a Brighton community garden and a local produce shop.”

Seventh grade student Teresa Moore’s presentation examined the different facets of her personality. Moore said she enjoyed putting together the video and her poster presentation, which included a portrait of angel from spay paint and white feathers.

“I liked using the spray paint the best,” said Moore, who titled her presentation “Inside & Out.” “I think this showed me that I can do a lot if I put my mind to it.”

—Ed Hayward | University Communications