The need for (digital) story : first graders using digital tools to tell stories
The purpose of this study was to explore the process and product of African American First Graders as they participated in digital storytelling. Of interest was the role digital tools played in the creation process. Eight participants participated in 18 study sessions during which they composed, recorded, and then shared their digital texts with their peers and at home. Data sources included classroom observations, parent and teacher questionnaires, participant pre and post interviews, field notes, video and audio tapes of sessions, and story screenshot captures and print outs. Study questions focused on the nature of the texts the student produced, the role of the digital in the creation process, and the meanings and purposes the participants had for the texts they produced.
This study’s findings challenge teachers to offer students authentic experiences with writing so that children can construct their own ideas and interests, their own writing personalities. Digital texts were a particularly engaging medium for these young children and allowed them to produce texts that reflected their identities as well as their attitudes toward using digital tools. The nature of the texts varied depending on the child, his or her attitude toward using the digital tools, and likely their previous experiences with composition. One unique type of text was identified as a hybrid text that seemed to capitalize on both the ability of the child storyteller and the affordances of the digital. Due to the study’s emphasis on sharing these texts with peers and at home, the first graders were introduced to a sophisticated view of audience. This transactional role of the audience made them aware of audience as a living, breathing entity that gains ownership of the texts’ meanings once they are shared.