Engaging student voice and fulfilling curriculum goals with digital stories

  • Therese Kulla-Abbott University of Missouri-St. Louis
  • Joseph L. Polman University of Missouri-St. Louis


Digital storytelling is a recent achievement that utilizes the latest developments in digital video cameras, scanners, personal computers and software. In digital storytelling projects, learners collaboratively videotape, edit, and create digital stories, which incorporate multiple media, and deal with issues of point-of-view, context, and communication of ideas. Such projects implemented in out-of-school time have generally been successful at fostering literacy skills while positively influencing youth identity development (Atchley, 2000; Davis, 2004; Hull & Greeno, 2006; Lambert, 2002). Unlike many of the other implementations of digital storytelling, this study was conducted within a formal school, in a context where digital storytelling was used in part to fulfill curriculum goals. This research project was integrated into the classroom curriculum and took place throughout the 2005-2006 school year. Students created a series of three digital stories over the course of several months implementing creative, narrative and persuasive writing. These digital stories utilized the grade level curriculum, integrating communication arts, social studies, science, and technology. The purpose of this paper is to better understand the tensions between students developing and engaging their personal voice in digital storytelling, and achieving school-based curricular goals.