5 Pics/1 Story: A Collaborative Effort

You know me and Twitter.  I love it. Follow great people. Try new ideas I find there.
That's what this post is about. It's full of links, so I hope you have the patience to check them out!

Two Iowa educators, Erin Olson and Leslie Pralle Keehn, who now work for one of the education agencies in our state, have started a Connecting Creativity Series. I'll let you check it out. There is a new activity every month, and I use these as a way to connect my students to students in other parts of the state.

This month's "assignment" is a 5 Photo Story. This one excited me because my Creative Writing students and I already do this in collaboration with our art teacher and her digital camera class.  This post will share how we go about creating this activity and even meet some common core standards!

STEP 1A (and beyond. Will try to have her write about what she does in class)
@Artteach13 talks with her students about telling stories with pictures. They need to take pictures to give a setting, characters, mood, etc.  They get about a week to take pictures. Once they have their pictures taken, they upload them to a google doc with numbered folders. @Artteach13 grades their photos separately from the story (although WHEN we are allowed to have our digital storytelling class, this will be one grade)

Meanwhile, over in Creative Writing....


This is the beginning of our fiction writing unit, so we spend a couple of days writing group stories from picture prompts I found on Pinterest (where else?):

My students have fun with these little writing "episodes" and there is no pressure. We share them out in class and talk about what it takes to write a story from a picture.

On Day 2 or 3, I send them to my website to work through tutorials on creating 5 Pic Stories. It includes sending them to a site dedicated to 5 Card Flickr Stories. On this site they can pick five pictures and write a practice story of their own. They also have the ability to share their story, so I have them email me the link. This is not a graded activity, but it is an expectation.

By this time, the digital camera class photos are uploaded to the google doc. My students have two more things to do: Read/look through @Artteach13's and my mentor text and watch the tutorial on using tackkboard. We post our stories to tackk, and the video shows them how to do it. (Our hashtag this year: #CHS5Photos14 Look for it after Monday.  Last year's photo stories are here)

My students have several class periods to draft/share/conference before their deadline. At first, they look at the pictures and think they can't possibly come up with a story. But you know what? Once they stare at them for awhile, talk about them for awhile, move them around for awhile, a story pops into their heads. And they write.

This is a fun collaborative project for our two classes. Do we have kids who don't get pictures done on time? Yep. Kids who don't get story done on time? Yep. But because they are collaborating with peers, no one wants to be that kid who doesn't do the work. It all gets done!

Our students (and ourselves, actually) are always surprised at how the stories turn out. The photographers had a story in mind when they took the pictures, but the writers can arrange the pictures however they want. Our kids have created some amazing stories. I hope you'll try this fun activity in your own class, either on your own or in collaboration with another.


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