History and Digital Storytelling

Version 3



    In order to understand historical events, students must first understand how their world is shaped by events. In this lesson, students will investigate current events and capture the significance of an event from their point of view.


    At a Glance

    Subjects: Language Arts and Social Studies

    Grades: 9-12

    Lesson Duration: Five 50-minute class periods


    Learning Objectives

    Students will:

    • Investigate both the factors and historical outcomes of a significant current event; and,
    • Produce a multimedia story of a current event.


    Materials and Resources

    Student Devices

    • Laptops, 2-in-1s, or tablets


    Websites (optional)


    Inquiry Process

    The inquiry process will guide students throughout their digital storytelling project. Students will investigate current events and generate questions about the significance of the event as well as potential historical outcomes. They will explore multiple forms of source data, including, interviews, newspapers, magazines, television, podcasts, and videocasts to further understand the event from different points of view. Students will then create a digital story of the event and discuss what significance they believe the event will have on history.


    Technology Benefits

    Students will utilize technology tools to support each phase of the inquiry process. During the research phase, they will use relevant source data from the Internet to answer investigative questions about current events. Collaborative notetaking tools allow partners to easily share notes and research across different devices. Additionally, many digital note-taking tools support students in creating citations, thus reinforcing their

    understanding of copyright. In the planning phase, concept-mapping apps allow students to organize and visualize their data to reinforce understanding. In the presentation phase, digital tools allow students to use multiple forms of media to effectively present their story to their peers.




    Prior to beginning this lesson, provide students with time to explore the Media Camera app and its video presentation tools.



    Explain to students that they will work collaboratively in pairs to create a digital story of a current event told through multimedia using photographs, video, and narrated audio. This event can be anything that has occurred in the world during the past six months. Students should consider how this current event has impacted or will impact the social, political, geographic and economic climate of the world based on their point of view. Use the Digital Storytelling Rubric to help students plan and selfassess their work.



    In pairs, students will research current events using local newspapers, magazines, or the Internet (if available). After selecting a topic they will begin creating investigative questions, for example, “How will this event impact unemployment rates in your country or city?” After selecting an event (such as an election or a natural disaster), students will explore multiple forms of data, both primary and secondary source, to collect information that can help answer their questions. Students will use their investigations to generate further questions and provide a more robust understanding of the effect of the current event.


    In both the investigation and planning phases, students can use a collaborative note-taking application, such as Microsoft* OneNote, to compile and track their research as well as take

    notes on their findings.


    Throughout the investigation phase students are compiling information. Next, have them review the information and decide how to best present this information in the form of a digital story. Together they will plan which media tools (for example, audio, video, text, and images) would be most effective in portraying the significance and historical outcomes of the event.


    Scaffolding the Story

    While investigating their current event, students may wish to use the Learning in Context: Concept Mapping app or a similar concept-mapping tool. As students collect information about the event’s contributing factors and outcomes, they can use a concept map to begin establishing relationships and visualizing patterns. Students should use their completed concept map to aid in the creation of their storyboard, a plan for their digital story.


    After creating a storyboard, students can use the Media Camera app to begin creating their final project. They can use the presenter tool within the app to collect interviews, video clips and other photos

    needed for their digital story. Be sure to provide time for students to ask questions about their work in progress. If using the Classroom Management software the students can ask their teacher questions about their work progress. The teacher can also use the Classroom Management software to monitor student work.



    Student groups will present their digital story to the class, providing insight into their inquiry process and explaining both the factors and historical significance of the current event from their point of view. Encourage students to discuss their choice of media and reflect on how technology played a key role during each phase of the project. If possible, upload the digital stories to create an electronic portfolio that can be viewed online or consider hosting a family night were students can present their material.


    After the digital story has been presented, students can go online and “like” a story and provide specific feedback about the elements of the digital story that resonated with them. This portfolio of stories can also be shared with another classroom for extended discussion and learning.



    A Digital Storytelling Rubric is provided to students at the start of the project to guide their investigations and help them plan their digital story. Teacher observation and informal discussions are used throughout the project to ensure that students are meeting the objectives of the lesson. The final project is assessed using the project rubric.



    This lesson was created by Julia Fischer, Professional Development Strategist for Clarity Innovations, Inc. in Portland, Oregon.

    Students will investigate current events and generate questions about the significance of the event as well as potential historical outcomes.