Digital Storytelling @ Xavier School Nuvali

As a school librarian, one of my goals is to make my library alive! Aside from the cataloguing and classification, and circulation of library materials, it is a challenge for me to give life to my nook and make it more exciting; for the students to make meaning and give importance to their library resources and for the teachers to identify areas for collaboration and at the same time, for all users to appreciate the significance of the library in the school community.

One of those areas is instruction. Our school, Xavier School Nuvali (XSN), employs the four-prong approach of teaching conceptualized by the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Education, wherein a text or a story is used as springboard for teaching, discussion and learning, and for the formulation of different engagement and enrichment activities. XSN highly encourages the utilization of the said approach in all subject areas. It proves to be very effective as students tend to recall their lessons because of their hook with the stories. As one of my professors in UP used to say, “Our brains are programmed to absorb information that are in narrative form.” And true enough, stories engage students and inspire them to share their own adventures that they can relate with the different subjects.

It was through this approach that I saw the opportunity to make use of our library resources. I was the school librarian-cum-computer teacher for Grades 7 & 8 students last school year. Computer education, being a very relevant subject to this generation of students is very interesting for them. But one thing was missing: content. Everything that I used to know about Computer Education was the technical stuff: parts of a computer, programming, database management, etc. True that these are skills needed especially in this digital age, but content more so context is also essential for students to be able to see the connections of their learning with their immediate environment and its relevance to their lives. Thus, there needs to be collaboration.

The marriage between technology and content was and will always be a success. I grabbed the chance to create digital stories and use them as springboard for my library classes. Damian the Dragon and Squeaky the Squirrel became instant hits among Grade School students. The recall was very high and the relevance to the subject area, English (library & research skills), was very evident.

I made use of the FREE Puppet Pals app in iPad to create stories for library instruction. I personally chose Squeaky the Squirrel to be my library guide for Kinder-Grade 2 students. Squeaky the Squirrel is one of the characters that you may choose among the eight (8) default characters in Puppet Pals. You may choose up to eight (8) characters to help you facilitate your story. Basically, they work like puppets less the strings or holes to fit your hands. They function through the capacity of touch. You may zoom them in to make them smaller or zoom them out to make them taller or bigger. Aside from the characters, you may also choose scenes or venues for your story. They range from forests, offices, buildings, etc wherein you can choose up to five (5).

Here I chose Squeaky the Squirrel as my main actor for my lesson in Borrowing and Returning Books for Kinder students. There is no voice-over because I wanted to tell them the rules in person. While Squeaky the Squirrel glides through the screen, I teach the students the different rules in borrowing and returning of books. I also included some of the characters to pretend as students.

But since I was teaching the students library skills and I cannot teach it to them effectively if I was in the forests and hills (and being Mary Poppin), I just took pictures of our own library as background. That is one beauty of Puppet Pals. You may choose to create your own backgrounds, and you may also create your own characters, which brings us Damian the Dragon.

Some backstory: For the library period of Grade 4 students last year, I was asked to teach them parts of a book and since I have mentioned earlier that as much as possible, we want stories to facilitate the discussion of a lesson, I had the idea of creating Damian the Dragon to help me teach Parts of a Book to the Grade 4 students. FYI, the story of Damian was just an overnight DIY story, it’s that easy and convenient!

Here, Damian takes a short tour of the library and comes across the book “Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them” by Newt Scamander (but in reality was JK Rowling … shhhh). So he browsed through and found the different parts of the book. All the characters were hand-drawn including the names of the parts. Then, pictures of them were taken as well as the backgrounds.

TIP: You can switch through backgrounds by tapping the ropes on top.

After the storytelling and brief discussion, the students were then asked to create their own big books by joining the parts done among groups.

In order to create Puppet Pals stories, just tap the FREE Puppet Pals app. Create “New Show”. Choose or create at least 1 and at most 8 characters. Choose or create at least 1 and at most 5 backgrounds. Then create show. At first, the character/s will be at the sideline, it is now up to you on how you want to make your story flow. You can do the storytelling live or you may also record it by tapping the RECORD button and the PAUSE button from time to time. You may also purchase the PREMIUM app but personally, you can just opt to maximize the FREE one.

Now, I think most of you will agree with me that Grade School students are not hard to please and I find it easy to engage them and invite them to the library through the different storytelling lessons and sessions. Circulation is at its peak every after library session for the Grade School students. The challenge this time is how to perk up the interests of High School students for books and reading. I took a different route for this one. Instead of me telling them stories, I let them create and tell their own stories.

Some High School students created their book trailers using the FREE iMovie app in iPad or iMac. I tied up with the English department and we created some interesting clips using their books for home reading.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gailman (a very cute book trailer!) by the Grade 8 students. This was done during one of their Computer classes. Characters were hand-drawn. Backgrounds were the things around them. The music and texts were pre-set, editing of the casts was the only necessary thing to do.

In order to create a book trailer, just select the iMovie app in iOs, tap the plus (+) button and select “New Trailer”. Choose among the default scenes. Warning though, once you have created a trailer using one of the default scenes, you may not revert and choose another scene. Elsewise, you’ll have to delete what you have started. Preview the scenes first before creating one.

Now, just to demonstrate how effective the stories were:
One day, the Kinder students were asked to go and read in the library during their recess break.

Kinder A : Good morning Mr Marco! Have you seen Squeaky the Squirrel?
Kinder B : Yeah, did he line up when he borrowed?
All of them : Maybe he’s hiding somewhere in the library.

AAAwwww … you kids!!! CUE : Damian the Dragon : *Wiiiiiiiiieeeeeee!!!*

Darrel Darrel Marco works as a school librarian in Xavier School Nuvali. His passion is to spread the love for reading and literacy throughout the country. He has done different outreach activities, stoytelling mostly, to different rural areas in the Philippines.

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