Storytelling With iStopMotion in a Million Different Visual Languages

Dinjerra Primary School in Braybrook, Australia, supports the learning needs of diverse students from the local area, and teacher Seaneen Watts uses a special method in her Grade 4, 5 and 6 classrooms: technology.

Because she teaches many students who are of refugees, have backgrounds in trauma and have trouble with the English language, Seaneen knew that imaginative play was a must in her classroom. She was interested in using iPad technology for storytelling, and when she found iStopMotion, she thought it would be a fun, engaging app that would allow her students to tell stories through play-based learning, without the barriers of spelling and writing.

“I first began using it about a year ago, and I initially trialed it with a nine-year-old student who was creative and loved technology but was disengaged in the traditional process of story writing,” she says. “As a result, he could distract others or exhibit some challenging behaviors. As he loved LEGO, I thought he might enjoy story telling through iStopMotion. He made several movies and it kept him engaged for hours.”

The rest of Seaneen’s students loved iStopMotion too, so she incorporated it into the daily curriculum. Now, she allows it as one of several presentation apps students can choose from to tell their story.

Recently, the school held a swimming program in which not all students participate. Seaneen had her students create a presentation about water safety to go over the dangers of swimming and tips on staying safe. Students used iStopMotion, LEGO and Play-Doh to construct their lessons, working in teams to get the job done.

“I find that the teamwork aspect for many of the students is key,” Seaneen says. “Many of our students come with social and trust issues, and I find that teamwork allows them to work collaboratively with others where they feel they are equal to their peers.”

There is also the fact that the creative process works in different ways for every student. iStopMotion teamwork helps students storyboard together, bounce ideas off of each other as they go, and take notes on their work.

“I also have noticed that it appeals to many of the children’s different styles – the creative, the kinesthetic, the logical, the artistic – and allows them to bring their own personality to their story,” she says. “Some students take hours of class time to get their story just the way they want it.”

Playing around with iStopMotion in the classroom is an exciting way for Seaneen’s students to learn. The students love the app’s 3D aspect, and they enjoy making their presentations funny – sometimes even a bit gory!

“I think technology is paramount for classroom use, so long as the teachers are given the time and training for how to make it worthwhile and valuable,” Seaneen says. “For the 21st century, it’s imperative to create global learners who can share and collaborate using digital technology.”

She continues, “For my particular school, many of our students have difficulty with the English language and western mainstream schooling. Using digital technologies allows them to work in teams, be creative, use their imagination and navigate in an increasingly sophisticated digital world. Our students love to share their learning. It validates what they do and builds confidence and self-esteem, which for kids, is vital.”

Check out the Dinjerra students’ iStopMotion animation about water safety above!