Saturday, December 1, 2007

Ideas for Digital Stories

A digital story can be serious, funny, sad, shocking ...
it's about you, using your own ideas and words.

Here is a long list of ideas for stories to help you get started:

Tell a story about…

A bad habit you quit
A big life change
A biography of someone interesting
A blessing in disguise
A coincidence
A cultural conflict
A cultural custom or tradition
A day in the life of an immigrant
A deception
A disappointment (when you disappointed someone or someone disappointed you)
A failure
A family custom
A family heirloom
A family member
A folk story
A ghost story
A great vacation
A legend
A letter or dialog with someone you love, someone you want to forgive, or someone whom you want to ask forgiveness
A lie
A miracle
A misunderstanding (due to language or cultural differences)
A mixed blessing
A movie trailer of your life
A mystery
A myth
A painful experience
A painful experience
A person who you admire
A place that is special to you
A place you would like to visit
A poem you like
A proverb or dicho
A Public Service Announcment (PSA)
A rite of passage
A sacrifice you or someone you know made
A secret
A societal or environmental problem that concerns you
A song you like
A special friend
A special holiday
A special place
A story about words that someone said to you that impacted you or changed your life
A story from your childhood
A story of courage
A story of discrimination or unfair treatment
A superstition
A time when someone helped you or when you helped another person
A time when someone hurt you
A time when you experienced prejudice or stereotyping
A time when you had to make a big decision
A time when you learned a new skill
A time when you lost someone
A time when you lost something
A time when you made a difference in somebody’s life
A time when you overcame an obstacle
A time when you reconnected with someone
A time when you used your intuition
A time when you were healed
A time when you were helped by helping somebody else
A time when you were honest
A time when you were lost
A time when you were scared
A time when you worked (or played) as part of a team
A transformation
A tribute to someone
A very important journey that you undertook
Advice for newcomers to the USA
An event in your community, city, country, or the world that changed your life or your views
An event that taught you a lesson
An important person in history
An important person in your life
An important relationship
An unexplainable experience
An urban legend
Becoming an adult
Doing your own thing
How and what you appreciate in your life
How to … (anything you know how to do well)
How we are all connected
How you are lucky
How you changed for the better
How you met your spouse, best friend, or boyfriend/girlfriend
How you or someone you know took a different path in life and the results
How you used to be
How you want to inpires others
Interviewing a special person
Learning English
Something special about your community
Something you fought for
Symbols of your culture, country, or hometown
The best advice you ever received
The best day of your life
The best gift you have received
The history of (fashion, a sport, a monument) -- a subject that interests you
The origin of your family
The origin of your name
The worst day of your life
Welcome to your school, your community, your home, or your hometown
What freedom means to you
What happened in history on the day of your birth
What makes you happy
What makes you proud
What worries you
What you are hopeful about
What you are willing to die for
What you believe in
What you used to believe
What you used to believe
What you want others to remember you for
What you would do if you could change yourself, your life, or something in the world
What you would say to someone if you could say anything (who, what)
Your (hidden) talent(s)
Your (or someone else’s) wedding day story
Your __________ experience (scariest, happiest, unique, most interesting, most exciting, life-changing, special/first time, most rewarding, saddest, most embarrassing, etc.)
Your American dream
Your autobiography in three parts (past, present, future)
Your big success
Your birth story
Your blessings
Your coming-to-America story
Your definition of respect, loyalty, or faith
Your earliest memory
Your goals for the future
Your greatest fear
Your hero
Your hometown
Your hopes for your children
Your inspiration
Your life in the future (plans, goals, dreams, wishes)
Your life’s purpose
Your most prized possession(s)
Your mother country
Your personal story of loss
Your position in your family

Movie Maker

Movie Maker is a free video editing program that comes standard on Windows XP and Windows Vista.

It's easy to use, and it is the program we will primarly use to make digital stories in the ESL Digital Storytelling class at MiraCosta College.

To download Movie Maker

Online Tutorial: Movie Maker 2

Atomic Learning Tutorials:

See my booklet for OTAN at

Photo Story

Photo Story 3 is a free Microsoft download for creating digital stories from photos.

To download Photo Story 3, go to

For a Photo Story Tutorial, see

Adobe Premiere

Adobe Premiere is a software that is on MCC's computers in the labs.

You can see tutorials for using this program at

Free Sources for Photo Editing and Effects

Picasa is a free Google download for photo editing.

To download Picasa, go to

A free online Picasa video tutorial can be viewed at

Free online photo editing and altering (special effects) sites (no download required, but registration is required with some sites):

Be Funky

Photo Editing with Picassa

Picasa is a free program from Google which has sufficient features for basic photo editing and is fairly easy to use:
Google Picasa (free to download and use!)To download Picasa, go to

Uploading Video to Share with the World

Many sites allow free video uploading. Some allow registered users to choose private or publish postings.

Here are some of the most popular sites:
Freevlog (set up your own video blog)
Google Video
Motionbox Make a flip book!
Next Vista for Learning For posting educational videos. Also An online library of free videos for learners.
School tube
Yahoo! Video


There are important factors one must consider when choosing colors to illustrate and enhance a story. These sites inform about color theory, color as therapy, color meanings and symbols, color meanings in various cultures, and color effects on mood.

Digital Photography

Here are some good sources for learning how to take better photos:

Kodak Photo Tips

Microsoft Digital Photography Tips

Photography Tips

NPR and Affliated Program

Many NPR programs are also broadcast or at least archived online.
These make great bases of ideas for students when crafting their own stories.

Here are my favorite:


Create a "Lifecast."

Dandelife is a very cool site for telling life stories with your photos, videos and blog mixed with your friends, family and feeds.

Check it out!


Yes, it is a delicious, refreshing drink made of lemonade, mint, and rum. However, it's also a cool site you should check out!
Lets you annotate online video.


Zentation is a tool for merging Google video with PowerPoint.

Download a handout with directions for ESL projects from my Google Page:

Here's an example:

Place-Based Storytelling

Google Earth allows for geo-tagging, that is, place-based storytelling.

Here are some online sources for making place-based stories:

Community Walk Create interactive maps
Murmur Geographic digital stories
Storymapping based stories.
Wayfaring Create personalized maps.

Upload PowerPoints to the Web

There are a few sites where PowerPoint slideshow can be uploaded to the web for sharing.

Here is a list:


You can even upload PPTs to YouTube see how at
Slideshare video tutorial and Video tutorial on YouTube

Make Slideshows Online

There are numerous websites that allow users to upload photos, arrange them, narrate or type captions, and save online as "movies."

Here is a list:

Flypaper (download required)
Mogopop Create and share multimedia for ipods.
MyPlick (like Scribd – can upload many types of docs to share)One True Media
OurStory make and save online stories with timelines.
Primary Access
Rock You
Slide (see a couple of examples I made: My Life in the Future, and Who Am I?)
Toufee make flash movies
VoiceThread Create and comment. Very cool
Zoho Show

Plus: See 50 Digital Story Web 2.0 tools on the Story Tools wiki (including audio, presentation, video, comics, and mapping tools) at

Teacher Tube Video on Movie Maker