Digital storytelling for historical narratives: War Story

War Story is a thought-provoking filmmaking and literacy project that challenges pupils to consider new perspectives from World War 2, by actively and collaboratively exploring a range of evidence from the Battle Of The Bulge.

The discoveries made form the basis of a written historical narrative and the production of pupils’ own powerful film trailer.

Adam Mitchell, a teacher from Billanook College in Victoria, Australia recently completed the five-lesson project with his class. Their poignant and powerful short film can be watched here:

“I have used film and video in class many times before,” says Adam, “but the reason this project worked so well is that they were the storytellers, the experts. They knew that in order to do justice to the stories, they must feel real, not like the recount of a child. This became the driving force behind their truly incredible writing. The link between traditional and digital literacy was made obvious from the start.”

 As well as the ownership his pupils demonstrated when challenged to create a poignant story for an audience, Adam also found that the digital aspect of the project enabled pupils who might not be so confident in traditional literacy to shine in other areas.

 “The reason I use film and other visual and digital literacies is because it is what I would call a literacy leveller. Students who would, in a traditional classroom, have been left in the dust of the strong writers, frustrated and stifled, are given an avenue to express their creativity without over-dependence on the written word.”

 One of the most powerful insights that pupils can gain from digital literacy projects is a realisation that the creative process – the ideas, collaboration, drafting, problem-solving – is vital to accomplishing the end goal. Adam concludes:

This is not ‘technology for its own sake’; nor is it simply augmenting the more traditional way of doing things. Using film in this way is a structured, scaffolded and generally collaborative way of driving student-centred learning. It is challenging; and yet the solutions to the challenges are accessible. From a literature purist’s perspective, students still need to understand how to manipulate a viewer’s emotions and responses, how to portray feelings…how to build suspense, how to logically structure a narrative and how to leave sufficient space within the narrative for the viewer to bring in their own experiences and imagination.”

For more information about War Story resources, and other filmmaking opportunities, click here