Educator Profile

Judy Rance-Roney is a teacher educator at the State University of New York at New Paltz and a teacher consultant with the Hudson Valley Writing Project. She has a twenty-five year history of teaching English language learners from first grade through university, is a reading specialist, and has taught mainstream high school English. She has published chapters and articles on English language learners in TESOL's Essential Teacher, in the English Journal, and in several books for educators. She is currently Co-Chair of the English Language Learner Leadership Team of the National Writing Project.

Her work in digital storytelling centers on the role of self in creating digital stories: how we grow in understanding of our own identities through the composing of digital media and how we choose to represent ourselves to the world at large in our digital presentations. Of particular fascination is how the mirror of the digital story composition affects the process of the re-negotiating of self while undergoing significant life passages.

Digital Storytelling Projects

Her first foray into the examination of the impact of digital storytelling involved a high school English class composed of recent immigrants from South America and Haiti who had not yet melded life here in the U.S. with the life left behind. She found that digital storytelling helped the students to metaphorically "unpack their suitcases" and to develop the emotional capital to face a new life in this country. Later work involved international students who had just arrived in the U.S. The students used digital storytelling as a venue to explore problematic encounters with Americans and American culture and to reflect on the universal values of humanness.

In working with pre-service teachers at her college, she teaches innovative instructional uses of digital storytelling technology such as the Digital Jumpstart, a teacher-made digital story production to scaffold challenging academic reading for English learners and struggling adolescent readers. She has developed several digital stories describing critical incidents in her own teaching life and uses these stories in her teacher education classes to sensitize her students to the real conflicts in the life of a teacher.

Her most recent research is in the area of the development of pre-service teacher professional identity as mediated and enhanced by the production of a digital story or short movie. For the last several semesters, young future educators in her classes have engaged in an extended digital media project with the goal of defining the antecedents of the decision to become a teacher and to define for the future the type of teacher one aspires to be. These future teachers find that in the composing of the digital story, they re-connect to their reasons for becoming teachers, deepen their understanding of their commitment to the profession, and archive the value of teaching to society — digitally — in case they "lose their way" in their journey to becoming lifelong teachers.