Friday, February 11, 2011

Reflections on 'Children sharing stories across the world' - Glynda Hull

Children sharing stories across the world - Glynda Hull

I first learned of Glynda Hull several years ago when my colleague Ann mentioned her work with the D.U.S.T.Y (Digital Underground Storytelling Youth) programme. The notion of children from under-privileged areas coming together after school to engage in digital storytelling to share their stories appealed to me.

I grew up and still live in Otara, Auckland which is considered to be a very low-socio economic area with high social needs and issues. Like alot of my friends doing okay for themselves and still living in the 'hood' we do what we can, when we can to do our bit to reach out to youth, with the desire of helping them carve out a better future.

So, in 2007 I contacted Michaelangelo from D.U.S.T.Y to seek advice on how to replicate the programme in South Auckland. At the time I was volunteering with CANOPY Trust and working with two ladies teaching them what I knew about technology and getting them to join me in my role teaching teachers, we started an 'Otara Heroes' programme where they created a DVD about people they considered to be Otara Heroes. We soon learned, that the definition 'Hero' meant something different to each of us: a single mum with 7 kids, Reuben Wiki and Manu Vatuvei amazing league players, Norman Kirk and Len Brown.

Glynda Hull talked about the D.U.S.T.Y programme in her korero, she is still involved with some of the youth she worked with some years ago. The stories she shared with us were very moving, the most popular story that has epitomized the work of D.U.S.T.Y for the past decade is Life 'n' Rhyme.

Since then however, she has moved into working across many different countries with a forum called Space2Cre8. She talked about the impact of circulating stories by youth for youth across the world and using a social networking site as the platform to share these among youth.Hull went on to talk about the lessons learned from the work that she is currently doing with Space2Cre8, these included:

- Children can easily extend print based genres.
- Children use different modes.
- Children who struggle with writing may excel with digital media.
- Sharing Digital stories both online and offline can have unexpected and unintended consequences.

She went on to talk about the notion of 'mirror stories', and demonstrated this with two stories: one created by a young girl in India and her struggles with day-to-day living, she then showed a story from a teenage boy in the Bronx who saw this story and decided to document his neighborhood and life - bringing to light the similarities and differences. Hull confirmed through stories "the personal assumes great importance".

What could happen in our teaching teams if we all took time to tell stories? Tell stories of our journey into teaching? Our backgrounds? Our goals and our desires? Then share these stories beyond our walls and into International forums?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Reflections from International DST Conference - Day 1 (Part One)

With over 200 participants registered for the 4th International Digital Storytelling conference I am not phased at all by the fact that I am the only New Zealander present and have probably travelled the furtherest to be here. The small number of participants provides an intimate context to establish and maintain some great conversations with other participants - a little different from the thousands I am used to at Ulearn.

So what was the attraction to a conference on the other side of the world I hear you ask? As I detailed in my previous post Digital Storytelling has captured my interest for some time, the opportunity to hear both Glynda Hull and Joe Lambert at the same event was definitely something I was keen on engaging in, but what was more appealing was the fact that I would hear about Digital Storytelling in a range of different contexts - health, education, social justice, historical colletions and across a range of different countries. It seemed to me that this was an opportunity to experience professional development like no other.

Without a doubt, Day One has been amazing! I have been inspired during workshops as well as by conversations held throughout lunch and morning tea sessions. Today, I sat with a lady at lunch who is currently a photo-journalist as well as having a background in social anthropology. I also met a filmographer, an aviation museum curator and a woman who uses digital storytelling in student teacher reflections all whilst chatting over lunch. I've always been a firm believer as a teacher in the importance of looking outside the walls of education to be inspired by other sectors and using this to inform my own thinking. This conference has already exceeded my thinking in this area. The common theme that brings us all together is stories: Everybody has a story to tell!

Reflection on the Opening Korero.

Joe Lambert from the Center for Digital Storytelling opened the conference with a brief overview of the history of Digital Storytelling and a re-cap of previous International Digital Storytelling Conferences. What the heck is storytelling? Just about everybody today is a storyteller, from our Twitter and Facebook updates to slideshows and movies of happenings in our lives. The mix of images, audio, video and a story is considered Digital Storytelling.

While I feel that I am familiar with the Center of Digital Storytelling (CDS) and the work they do (well at least I thought I was) it seems that I have yet to scratch the surface to the depth of the CDS model, which means I really do need to look into the work they do.

While brief, Joe Lambert's message opening speech was clear: Digital Storytelling is about giving voice to those who do not have a voice. It's not only the 'how to' of Digital Storytelling but how it can make you a better person and how it changes you. What does this mean when I adapt it to my context working with early childhood teachers in Tāmaki-Maungakiekie, and who are we to give voice to those who have a voice? Surely Everybody has a voice? Isn't it more about strengthening, turning up, spotlighting ones voice? It looks like I've got some 'intellectual conflict' in store for me (Burman, 2009). More thinking on that statement to come later.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Touchdown in Lillehammer

I'm here, I'm finally here! What an amazing journey - 42 hours in total to reach my destination but oh so glad that I am here. The winter landscape is beautiful to say the least. While I wont be seeing much of the landscape over the next few days due to being indoors attending the conference I certainly will make the effort when the conference is over to explore the little city of Lillehammer.

Taking South Auckland Stories To Norway

Today I start my lengthy journey to Norway. I'm flying across the world to attend and present at the 4th International Digital Storytelling Conference. Check out the video below to see a quick glimpse into how far around the world it actually is.

I have had in interest in Digtal Storytelling (DST) for over 4 years now, and the more and more I investigate the DST process the more and more I am convinced of its benefits. In the ECE ICT PL Programme I witnessed a range of powerful Digital Stories, in most cases those created by 3 and 4 year olds. The areas that interest me most when it comes to DST are:

* The impact of Digital Storytelling to support literacy.
* Engaging community through Digital Storytelling.

I will be presenting on the latter at the 4th International Digital Storytelling conference. When I first considered submitting an application I debated whether I had anything worthy of sharing, then when I finally convinced myself that I had a story to share, I debated which parts of my DST story journey would be most interesting to an International audience. Working with teachers, children and families has certainly been rewarding as well as offering some great learning moments. How do you pack, 4 years of investigating into a presentation?

I am pleased to say that my presentation is complete, and while I cant post the presentation in its entirety here I will upload relevant slides over the next few posts to illustrate some of my thinking. For me, the most exciting part of pulling this presentation together has been the realisation that I am taking "South Auckland Stories to Norway". When I have talked to teachers about the possibility of Digital Storytelling reaching a global audience through blogs, websites and podcasts it never occurred to me that I would one day travel to Norway to share these stories. How exciting for a girl from Otara and to the authors of the stories. Wish me luck for both the travels and the presentation!

And last but by no means least, a huge thank you to CORE Education for the amazing opportunity!!