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Week 7: Digital storytelling (February 27 - March 4)

This week's tasks are about learning mathematics with stories.

  1. Investigate "digital storytelling" and "computer-based mathematics" as two modern ideas. Explain, in a comment of this task, what aspects of computer-based mathematics are especially stuitable for digital storytelling and why.
  2. Find an example of mathematical digital storytelling that uses some of these aspects.
  3. Make a short digital math story. You can use tools such as Scratch, Prezi, screencasting, PowerPoint, or anything else. 

Heads up! This is an open task that can easily take anywhere from twenty hours to a lifetime, if you really get into it. I hope it will be inspirational for the future, but also that this week, we can tell small, doable stories with great love.

Here are a couple of storytelling traditions that I find inspirational. Sona is an old African storytelling and drawing tradition, using graphs in the sand.

Data visualization, especially making rich charts, is a modern literacy often used in the context of social justice. In this TED talk, the creator of GapMinder uses this sophisticated computer-based math tool, as well as simple prompts, to tell a grand story about population growth. My young students love GapMinder!

Task Discussion

  • Laura Haeberle   March 16, 2012, 12:26 p.m.

    1. Digital storytelling and computer-based math go hand in hand. I think one of the greatest benefits, other than the visual nature, is how personalized the material can be. Digital storytelling is based on the speaker, who controls the story. Rather than teaching from a textbook, the teacher can make the math relatable to students in any way she chooses. Plus, she has the opportunity to make things engaging, perhaps by adding in familiar names or places that will get children excited about the problem. Additionally, the medium of storytelling varies slightly (as it can be a Prezi, a youtube clip, etc.) so the children won't get bored of the same thing.

    2. Here's one good example I found of math digital storytelling. It's about a boy who needs to buy a new bike, and wants to know how many weeks of pay he'll need to save up. The problem is something the children can understand easily, and has a strong foundation in real, everyday math.

    3. Here's my math video. I made it using Windows Live Movie Maker, and then posted it to youtube.

  • Carolyn   March 10, 2012, 2:55 p.m.

    Digital Storytlling is something I thought I had never done before, however I have watch probably 100 digital stories from youtube and other sites. Even just recently on Facebook there have been a lot of video mentioning "KONY" some advocating and some not but I thought if anyone has a Facebook and has been on it recently that they would know what I was talking about. 

    As for how digital storytelling could be used in mathematics, I think anytime a visual is needed it could be used. For instance much of geometry requires visuals becasue of the shapes and what not. The theorems and postulates could probably be explained through a digital story. 

    I found this website that had all sorts of educational digital stories:

    The site has art, music, history and obviously mathematical stories including "The History of Mathematics."

    For the digital story I tried making a prezi, but got a little frustrated with it so I made a simple scratch becasue I am not to great at that either!

    Here is my Scratch:

  • Kathy Cianciola   March 6, 2012, 2:06 p.m.

    I think the scrap-booking craze we experienced ten or fifteen years ago has given way to this new trend of digital storytelling, however I believe digital storytelling is here to stay.  From what I've gathered, digital storytelling is a very "grass roots" activity.  This digital format is an excellent way for a person to tell a story about his or her own life experiences.  I would venture to say that these stories can be even more powerful than Hollywood productions because they are very personal, creative and told in one's own voice.  Digital stories can be made with Microsoft Movie Maker for PC or with I Movie for Mac.  They are usually from 2-5 minutes in length, and utilize music, transitions, sound effects and titles.  It took me a while to find one, but I did finally locate what I would consider a great example of digital story telling.  Like everyone else, I found it on You Tube.  It was made by a triumphant student about the very first math test she ever got an "A+" on.  She does include some references to math, and mathematical concepts in her lyrics, but her voice is rather soft, so you really have to listen for them.

    Math Story, Starring Katrina Kessler, Written by Johnson Norman & Adrienne

  • Keisha   March 5, 2012, 4:59 a.m.

    When I first heard of digital storytelling I wasn't too sure of what it was but after reading some information on it I realized I've seen a lot of digital storytelling (only because I'm always on Youtube haha). Actually when I was in 10th grade my English teacher gave us an assignment that required us to make a slide show using Movie Maker to tell a story of our life so far and to narrate it. I never knew it was called digital storytelling. I think digital storytelling and computer based mathematics are a good way to engage those students who are more visual learners. It's also a great way to get creative, use cartoons, and fun colors. These types of things really capture the minds of young students.

    Here is a mathematical digital storytelling video I found on Youtube. I looks like a Math teacher made this. It's a digital story about how to find a slope on a graph.
    Here is my digital story. I made it using scratch. I'm starting to get the hang of it! :)
  • SandyG   March 5, 2012, 5:07 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Keisha   March 5, 2012, 4:59 a.m.

    Keisha, I wanted to tell you that I think your Scratch story is great!  I love that you imported a picture to use with the animation animals. You gave me a whole new way to look at Scratch.

  • Keisha   March 5, 2012, 10:16 p.m.
    In Reply To:   SandyG   March 5, 2012, 5:07 p.m.

    Thank you so much! :)

  • Carolyn Lesser   March 4, 2012, 2:21 p.m.


    I am not very familiar with digital storytelling and computer based mathematics but they seem like wonderful tools to teach students of all ages. To me it looks like the best parts are the visuals that students will have. These visuals will be a great reinforcement for learning math like shapes and will be a lot more interesting. Visual learners will excel more than they would have with just a lecture but other learners that prefer lectures will still have storytelling. This will also keep the student’s attention better because children today are so used to technology. It takes more to keep their attention on what they are learning and I think computer based math and digital storytelling in general will really help with this. I also think it is a great way for children to work together and to be able to share their work easily.

    I found a fun PowerPoint example. This link has a few examples but they are mostly fun visual math problems. I think the pictures are very helpful for students that learn better spatially. The one I liked the most was about an M&M mystery where they have to help solve an equation to see how many M&M’s a certain person gets. I think that it just adds a little more fun for the students and really engages them in what they are doing.

    This is my example. I struggled with it a bit but I think it turned out alright. It is just a quick fraction math problem with visuals to help students.

  • SandyG   Feb. 29, 2012, 5:52 p.m.

    I. What aspects of computer-based mathematics are especially suitable for digital storytelling and why?

    For me, the visual aspect that digital storytelling offers is perhaps the biggest benefit.  Presenting materials in an interesting, fun way is certainly more appealing to students than simply listening to lectures and watching examples be figured out on the chalk board.  I think digital storytelling would be very effective in creating tutorials, reviews, educational games, and simulations.  It can also be used as a way for students to demonstrate their understanding of concepts but in a non-traditional assessment format.  I also think digital storytelling is an excellent way to bring concepts into the real world—or into situations which the students might be able to relate. 

    II. Find an example of mathematical digital storytelling that uses some of these aspects.

    In this digital Photo Story, obviously made by students, it shows math in everyday situations.  I really love this example because it shows how you can turn the concepts over to the students and ask them to “explain” them in a way that demonstrates their understanding.  The concepts learned in class were applied to the students’ real world, and they demonstrated their understanding by finding appropriate and correct examples in their environment. 

    As an aside, while looking for my example, I came across this video.  It really helped me understand this less a bit better, and it is really interesting. Not being a math person, I never considered how the subject seems to be a real crossroads.


    III. Make a short digital math story. You can use tools such as Scratch, Prezi, screencasting, PowerPoint, or anything else.

    My digital story is attached.  Assuming my lesson is math, it would show the concept in a situation which the students may very well find themselves in, and I think they would appreciate and remember the visual explanation. I made the video using


    <iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>