Teacher Consultant

Dave Boardman

Messalonskee High School
Oakland, Maine

Maine Writing Project

Best Practices

  1. Write first: We write first, and then search for photos and images, and usually we break that rule on every project. Allowing students too much time to focus on images at the start of a multimedia project usually results in a delay in producing high-quality writing; students spend more time scanning images than crafting their words. That said, exceptions to the rule exist: sometimes when students do search through scrapbooks or royalty-free websites while still in the early drafting stage, their writing takes on more detail and they tell a richer story than they would have otherwise.
  2. Start long, end short: When my students have written an effective three-minute script, they've usually gotten there by first writing a narrative three to four times longer than the final project; then, through selective rewriting and trimming, they narrow it down to a more manageable length. Often, students need that extra length to bring out some of the subtleties and fine detail that will never make it when all the drafts approximate the final script length. But by writing long, then trimming, students learn to present ideas concisely, but with an art that keeps the essence, the spirit of the piece, alive.
  3. Use storytelling models: This is about telling stories, whether the story is a personal one, or the story is the life of a historical figure. I encourage students to remember that these stories are what enchant listeners and what help them build connections between their own lives and the multimedia work. To help students remember that, we usually start any digital storytelling project by looking at the works of regular people produced through such programs as the BBC's Capture Wales or locally produced examples.