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TeachNet Grant: Digitizing Our 21st Century Identity

Rosario Miano

CSI High School for International Studies

100 Essex Drive

Staten Island, NY 10314

Grade/Subject: 10th Grade Digital Literacy & World Literature

About the Grant:


  • Laptops or Workstations (PC or Macs)
  • Internet
  • Google Docs
  • Digital Story Software (depending on OS)
    •     Mac - iPhoto, iMovie, iTunes, & Garageband
    •     Windows - Windows MovieMaker, Audacity
  • Digital Storytelling Technologies: PhotoStory, WORDLE, Google Maps, VoiceThread, MixBook 


The purpose of this project is to have students establish a "positive presence" online. It begins with the students gaining knowledge about themselves and then turning that knowledge into a digital story. This includes setting up a personal blog page and creating an introductory video on "who we are". Using software tools, and digital literacy skills, the students illustrate their lives and profile into a visual story and/or audio podcast. Over the course of their work, they learn how their online identity has become very important in today's world. They discusses how colleges and employment are searching each applicant's online identity to assess their value as a candidate, and how, more importantly, their online presence never goes away. 

How It Works:

  • Students will learn the concepts, importance, and safety tips of online blogging.
  • Students will create an academic blog site to post and upload their "history of learning".
  • Students will construct a "name story" or "who am I" poem to help illustrate who they are, and they brainstorm what they feel are the important aspects of their lives.
  • Students will learn the important elements of a story.
  • Students will learn how to scan, edit, and upload their photos.
  • Students will search websites for copy-free images that illustrate these examples of literary devices.
  • Students will create audio podcasts based on their understanding of the literary devices.

Final Project/Product:

As a culminating activity, the students will have the option to illustrate who they are in the form of a digital movie, photo book, podcast, or MapQuest.

Overall Value:

This project has many features that are helpful to student learning. They learn the value of having a positive online presence, and how the work, images, and posts they put online are NEVER deleted. While students discover that who they are reflects on culture, family, and values, this projects serves as an introspective device for student expression.

The students also learn valuable technologies that can be used across the curriculum for academic projects. They are taught about copy protection and plagiarism, and are given a variety of resources that allow the free use of images. In addition to new technologies, the students also explore the elements of a story. This helps in sequencing and comprehension of storytelling, which will be a benefit to them when taking the ELA Regent Exam. 

The foundation of this project rests on the idea that students gain a deeper understanding of topics when they are allowed to express themselves creatively. This means taking information and illustrating it through music, photos, art, and storytelling.

Tips for the Teacher:

· Provide useful ideas to help in implementation. Explain why teachers would want   to adapt your unit for their classes.

· Students could already have an account with Google, in order to allow them to utilize Google Docs and other valuable apps accessible for project enrichment, such as Picasa, Google Maps, etc.

· As an introduction to the digital story unit, show examples of student digital stories and have an informal discussion about why some stories would be graded higher than others. You can show a rubric for a writing /project piece and have the class generate a digital story rubric for use later in this unit. 

· Many of the lessons/days outlined below can and should be divided into multiple classes because of the amount of work. If it is not possible to divide a lesson into two class sessions, have students do the groundwork - uploading images, changing the file name, completing handouts, etc. - on their own before the unit begins, so that most the grunt work is already done.

·In the Step 8/Day 3 lesson, you will notice that there are key shortcuts for Mac and Windows. these shortcuts are in parenthesis and the keys are to be pressed together.

Project URL

CLASS Website - http://mrmiano.info/

Look under the "Weekly Agenda" page for a complete list of lessons and agendas. You may also click the STUDENT BLOG page to see more examples of student work.

CLASS Blog Site - http://csiglobaltechnology.blogspot.com/

For the blog reflections and instruction on blogging, review the archived posts in September-November of 2009.

Student Work Photos and Documents pertaining to your project - You will have the opportunity to attach images and documents with login information that you will be provided with.

Student 1 - "My Family History" - the student used Google Maps to present this project.

Student 2 - "Swiss Exchange Experience" - this student used iMovie for a digital story on her student exchange to Switzerland. 

Student 3 - "Family Origins" - a student traces the generations of her family and explores their history, culture, and values.

Student 4 - "The Good Life" - the student examines the family, experiences, and people that have influenced her and enriched her life.


1. Students will discover, discuss, and illustrate information about themselves and their family, culture, and memorable experiences.

2. Students will utilize organization skills in creating project folders to store work.

3. Students will learn and utilize digital photo storage and editing skills.

4. Students will work with the elements of a story.

5. Students will enhance narrative writing skills.

6. Students will use peer editing skills and a rubric to grade student work.

7. Students will use presentation skills.

8. Students will use digital communication skills by posting blog responses.

9. Students will learn and use reflection skills.

10. Students will use pre-writing skills by completing a storyboard organizer.

Websites Used

"Who I Am"

This a link to our class site with the outline, instructions, and example of the poem   

Name Story

This a link to our class site with the outline, instructions, and example of the name story.    

Digital Story Rubric

A link to our class page that has a student generated digital story rubric.     

Download & Use Wordle     

Download PhotoStory

A step-by-step guide to using this free visual storytelling tool. 

Google Maps

Students can utilize Google Maps to "pin mark" an online scavenger hunt, a virtual map of family history, settings of a book, history lessons, and more.   


Students can create their own audio stories with this easy-to-use free audio editor and recorder.


Mixbook is a good option for the not-so-tech-savvy student. It allows anyone to tell a story by creating and publishing it as a book.

Plagiarism & Copyright Sites

A variety of websites for students to gather copy free images and learn about plagiarism.


An excellent source for information on how to create digital stories, examples of possible ways to tell your story, sites for copy free resources, etc.

Youth Voices

This site gives "sentence starters" and guidelines on proper responses to writing, image, or video posts. I use this site to ensure students appropriately comment on peer blog sites, and make proper self reflections on their own site.

Standards Addressed:

Standard 1: 

Students will access, generate, process, and transfer information using appropriate technologies.

Grade: 9-12

Subject: Technology


Standard 2:

Students will apply technological knowledge and skills to design, construct, use, and evaluate products and systems to satisfy human and environmental needs.

Grade: 9-12

Subject: Technology

Standard 3: 

Students will listen, speak, read, and write for information and understanding. As listeners and readers, students will collect data, facts, and ideas; discover relationships, concepts, and generalizations; and use knowledge generated from oral, written, and electronically produced texts. As speakers and writers, they will use oral and written language that follows the accepted conventions of the English language to acquire, interpret, apply, and transmit information.

Grade: 6-12

Subject: ELA

Standard 4: 

Students will read and listen to oral, written, and electronically produced texts and performances from American and world literature; relate texts and performances to their own lives; and develop an understanding of the diverse social, historical, and cultural dimensions the texts and performances represent. As speakers and writers, students will use oral and written language that follows the accepted conventions of the English language for self-expression and artistic creation.

Grade: 6-12

Subject: ELA


Standard 5:

Students will listen, speak, read, and write for critical analysis and evaluation. As listeners and readers, students will analyze experiences, ideas, information, and issues presented by others using a variety of established criteria. As speakers and writers, they will use oral and written language that follows the accepted conventions of the English language to present, from a variety of perspectives, their opinions and judgments on experiences, ideas, information, and issues.

Grade: 6-12

Subject: ELA


Standard 6: 

Students will listen, speak, read, and write for social interaction. Students will use oral and written language that follows the accepted conventions of the English language for effective social communication with a wide variety of people. As readers and listeners, they will use the social communications of others to enrich their understanding of people and their views.

Grade: 6-12

Subject: ELA

Lesson 1:

Title: Recognizing a "Good" Story

Project Objectives:

1. Students will learn/review the elements of good story.

2. Students will recognize these elements in student-created digital story examples.

3. Students will identify the different types of narrative stories.

4. Students will use the standards of acceptable use of image/audio.


· Teacher laptop with Internet access

· Projector

· Computer workstations for students

· Printed handouts of worksheets and information (if computer lab not accessible)


1. Students review the Elements of Story expected.

2. Students will view Digital Story Example 1 and Example 2 (choose from sites or have students explore and choose on their own).

3. Students identify elements in the examples viewed and complete Elements of a Story Worksheet.

4. Students review the Types of Stories page and identify the types of story they reviewed. 

5. Students will cite examples (text to text) of stories they know and discuss which type they are.

6. Students review handout on acceptable images & audio - Handout #1 (Images & Audio) .


Complete Story Plan Worksheet as an outline of story.


Teacher will be able to recognize student learning and comprehension by how well they identify the elements and types of stories examined in the examples shown in class. This assessment is carried over into the homework. Students identify the type of story they will create, and outline information presented. This information is centered around the elements of a story. 

Lesson 2:

Title: Scripting Your Narrative

Project Objectives:

1. Students will understand the basic steps of story planning.

2. Students will discover the importance of organizing digital files.

3. Students will use organization skills as a way of pre-writing brainstorming. 

4. Students are introduced to online photo storage.


· Teacher computer station with projector

· Students computer workstations

· Handouts of worksheets if working outside a computer lab 


1. Students will use Digitales website to learn more about digital storytelling and  the seven steps of creating a story.

2. Students complete project folders on their workstation (you can have students do this on Google Docs or you can also use flash drives).

3. Students will peer-review the story plan worksheet completed for homework.

4. Students discuss story plan with partners (no more than three to a group) and listen for advice and suggestions for resources.

5. Students will complete the Storyboard Organizer for planning their digital story. 

6. Students are instructed to not search for images or videos yet. Rather, they are to write in their ideas in the "image column".

7. Review homework: Point students to the link USING PICASA on our class website if they choose to save photos this way.


1. Students can collect photos or important documents from home that they wish to use in their digital story (e.g., birth certificates, etc). Digital images are to be saved onto a flash drive, burned on a CD, or uploaded to Picasa.

2 - Students use resources to collect copy-free material for story: IMAGE and SOUND.


Walk around the room when students are creating their worksheet to make sure the project folders are done. Students get to discuss their worksheet with a partner(s) to allow peer review before completion. Assessment carries over to homework. Students will match photos/documents/digital images from home to the shot numbers in their storyboard.

Lesson 3:

Title: Editing Digital Images

Project Objectives:

1. Students discover how images can tell a story before words.

2. Students learn techniques of uploading/saving digital pictures.

3. Students use organization skills to save images as appropriate project names.

4. Students adhere to copy protection laws.

5. Students discover and use various resources to collect copy-free online media files.


· Teacher computer station with projector

· Students computer workstations

· Handouts of worksheets if working outside a computer lab

· Students collected images, documents


1. Students create/open Project Folder titled "Pictures".

2. Students will open Google Doc - Storyboard Organizer - or take handout if not done online.

3. Students will match collected images to "Shot #" in the Storyboard Organizer .

4. Teacher explains the process for uploading digital images from student resources (flashdrive, CD, etc). (Windows - right click/save as & Mac - CMD/Click.)

5. Students are instructed to save images and "shot #" and as ".JPG" files (to change file name on  MAC - CMD + I ... Windows - right click/rename).

TIP: Example, if the opening shot is a family picture, the student saves that in his/her folder as shot1.jpg

6. Students move pictures into their project folders. During this time, students with hard copy pics/documents may scan in class.

7. Students use this workshop time to collect copy-free online images from the provided links to complete their storyboard.

8. FOR MAC USERS: Students upload images into the program iMovie by clicking and dragging or by using the photo browser (CMD + 2).

9. FOR WINDOWS USERS: Students upload images into the program MovieMaker.


Student are to write a story script based on the Storyboard Organizer. Their script is to be what they will record. The script will be their voiceover.


During workshop time, walk through the room and informally assess student work, ensuring that images are saved as proper names and in appropriate project folders, and that students are using copy-free resources to collect their files.

Lesson 4

Title: Recording Voiceovers

Project Objectives:

1. Students learn/review steps to follow for writing a narrative story.

2. Students are introduced to the concept of "economy" in writing. 

3. Students are introduced to audio recording software.


· Teacher computer station with projector

· Students computer workstations

· Handouts of worksheets if working outside a computer lab

· External computer microphones (if needed, Macbooks have built in microphones)


1. Students have project folders open and Storyboard Organizer ready.

2. Teacher checks that the story script homework is completed.

3. Teacher reviews Step 1: Writing the Narrative on the Digitales website.

4. Teacher discusses the importance of economy in student writing. "Less is more. Let the image tell the story. Narrative voice is secondary."

5. Students "think-pair-share"; after reviewing economy, students edit their own work and trade scripts with partner(s) for peer edit. Partners share responses.

6. Students record voiceovers into digital stories.

TIP: Students should read their script as the story plays before recording to ensure timing. You can use multiple iTalks (device that turns iPod into microphone) but you can also use a basic external or built-in mic. Arrange recording groups (4-5 students) and spread them out. This allows a smaller number of recordings at once.

7. FOR MAC USERS - iMovie has built in recording. Click on the microphone (or click CMD + O keys) to open. Click on the image and record right into the program. 

8. FOR WINDOWS USERS: Students can use the free program Audacity to record voiceovers.


Students can finish recording voiceovers at home. Audacity files and iTalk memos can be imported into the digital story program in school.


Students do a self-assessment and peer review before work is checked by the teacher. This informal assessment allows students to form small groups or partners and have peer review comments on their story. Students also read over the story as their pictures play, ensuring that the concept of time and writing economy has been followed.

Lesson 5:

Title: Reflection, Review, and Publishing

Project Objectives: 

1. Students convert and post videos on a blog site. 

2. Students use self/peer assessment based on a class-generated rubric.

3. Students use proper blog responses in reflection/comment posts.

4. Students reflect on their own work, including the process of how they got to completion.


· Teacher computer station with projector

· Students computer workstations

· Handouts of worksheets if working outside a computer lab


1. Students post final versions of digital narrative on their blog site (done prior to the unit and created free on Blogger with a Google Account).

2. Students grade their project using Digital Story Rubric (this rubric was created by the class prior to the project).

3. Students write a reflection of their own story on their blog site. This should include the process as well as the outcome. 

4. Students are assigned to grade two or three peer stories using the Digital Story Rubric

TIP: If students have created blog sites and uploaded stories, they can be given the web address. Or you can arrange them in groups of three and have them present their stories and group members can grade them.

5. Students post a peer review reflection on grading the digital stories on a class blog site (example) or complete a journal entry or handout.


If time is limited, you can assign the blog reflections for homework.


Assessment is both informal and formal. Students assess their own work using the class-generated rubric as well as grading others' work using the same rubric. Students write reflections for their own projects based on their discoveries. Teachers take these self/group grading and perform an assessment using the rubric to assign a final grade. 

Before becoming a New York City teacher, Rosario Miano started in technical recruiting, but moved into software training, project management, and eventually became a CTO for an IT consulting firm. As a teacher, he feels his most important job is to keep students engaged and interested. To accomplish this he relies on practical issues, technology, a sense-of-humor, and real-life knowledge. He believes that making the classroom a place where students connect to the real world and global community is vital to their educational enrichment. His goal is to give students the confidence and knowledge they need to achieve success in their personal, educational, and professional journeys. He also coach Varsity Wrestling & Softball at CSI High School .


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