Aboriginal Digital Storytelling Camp

Digital Storytelling Camp 2016 (DSTC)

What is the DSTC?

In the summer of 2016 I facilitated a Digital Storytelling camp at St. Francis school in Fort Frances, Ontario. We had seven Aboriginal students who just finished grade 5-6 participating for full school days during summer. We spent two weeks making short films, practicing photography, and learning about digital citizenship. We based a lot of what we did off of the Seven Teachings (also referred to as the Seven Grandfather Teachings) linking them to the school community, the digital community, and of course showcasing it in some of our projects.

How it came together

The opportunity to do something like this was tremendous. I pitched the concept to a couple of organizations and was grateful that St. Francis School was willing to give it a shot.

I’ve been kicking around ideas for integrating the 7 Teachings into the classroom since I started my Bachelor of Education at U of M. I’ve used it as a primer for a code of conduct in class, a guide for how students are to treat one another. It’s an alternative to creating, “rules,” which I find limiting in terms of building classroom community.

I also feel strongly about communicating through multiple modes of literacy. We often refer to digital literacy as a way to expand co
mmunication, through presentation software, audio, video, and through other applicable digital application. Given my experience as a filmmaker and media consultant, I’m a big digital literacy advocate.

A lot of people are under the impression that the next generation of graduates will need at least some basic digital skills to operate in the workplace in a large portion of profession of trades. One would think that it’s up to the education system to teach students these skills. However, I’m finding that students knowledge and aptitude for learning digital technology is often as high as my generation of teachers. The goal isn’t restricted to teaching students these skills, it’s making sure their using it as responsibly and effectively as possible.

The Digital Storytelling Camp was an opportunity for students to engage in their culture through digital media, which holistically taught them how to be responsible digital citizens and consequentially honed their digital media skills. And of course, they became better storytellers.


My methodology

Seven students, from 10-12 years old, were eager and willing to spend full days at school during their summer break. I didn’t take this lightly. I had goals, things I wanted to teach them, but the most important objective was finding out what they wanted to learn and create.

Many of these students make videos on a daily basis, through the popular lip-syncing app Musica.ly. They also consume a lot of youtube vlogging type videos. Basically opinion pieces done from a high quality webcam setup.

My job quickly became one of guiding the students to tell more effective stories through the camera lens, whether that be through preparation before shooting, using camera techniques, or introducing music and other production aspects into the piece.

View the Work

While I plan to write more about the DSTC in the future on my blog, I invite you now to check out the student’s work on our camp Weebly site. Click here.