Because Counting Our Blessings Just Isn't Enough

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My first digital story, created for #etmooc in tribute to #educoach: Friends Who Have Never Met

When I was a child, I dreamed of becoming a novelist. I wrote short stories, poetry, and even a  children’s book. I played with words, wondered about adjectives, and imagined characters, plots, and settings. I lived in the universe of story.

My father encouraged me both to write and to come up with a “Plan B”. “Novelists,” he shared, “can rarely support themselves.” I considered becoming a journalist, even began my studies in journalism. And yet, somehow journalism didn’t quite work for me. Reporting on events others impacted was interesting, yet not how I wanted to spend my career.  Joyfully, I found my way to education, a place in which the stories are real and the stars are the students whose learning and life journeys we have the privilege to impact, support, influence, and perhaps even inspire. My work became engagement in the present and my stories faded to the background.

Signing up for #etmooc, a learning experience that for me feels like something between an on-line course and a network of learners exploring areas of interest, awakened my interest in story. We were asked to experiment with digital storytelling. I was nervous. While expressing myself in words flows for me, naturally utilizing a skill set developed honestly through hours upon hours of creative writing from the age of seven, I’ve never been particularly capable expressing myself visually.A snow day gave me the gift of time I needed. I turned to the #etmooc provided resources, sifting through. There were numerous project options touching on different skill-sets: defining and collecting, animating, creating, composing, visualizing, remixing, collaborating, and playing. Not surprisingly, the most compelling activity for me involved creating:

I dutifully reviewed Alan Levine’s excellent resources, tutorials, and examples. I followed his three step guide.

  1. Outline a Story Idea (He advised that for the purposes of this workshop, you need to think of a rather short concept that can use perhaps 4-8 images, text, maybe audio or music to bring a story to life on the web.)
  2. Find Some Media 
  3. Pick a Tool and Build Your Story 

And off I went, creating my first digital story ever. It is a rather straight-forward autobiographical tale, created in several hours on a snow day. I was quite nervous, yet persevered, had fun, and emerged intrigued by the potential of digital storytelling.

Comments on: "Friends Who Have Never Met" (8)

  1. Hello Shira, thanks for sharing both your blog post and your digital story.Your love of words comes through loud and clear. You write eloquently. I too have had a life long love affair with language and a childhood ambition to write stories but found my passionate place in teaching, adults not children, but the goal and rewards are the same I think. I doubt if I will ever write the books I once dreamed of, but I have found a new venue in blogging. I’d like to get better at it and learn more about using images and sound to tell my stories. The overwhelming variety of tools for digital storytelling is daunting but thanks to your blog I am now inspired to wade through them and try a few more.

    • Shira Leibowitz said:

      Thanks, Linda! It took me a year of pondering a blog before setting one up and another six months before writing my first post. I did write for a school blog first, yet that was different as each post was edited. Moving from a rigorous editing process to sharing “works in progress” has been a difficult, yet ultimately liberating experience for me. I am striving to gain facility in utilizing tools other than the written word; graphics, audio, and video. These are not tools I have utilized before and there is a steep learning curve for me. Participating in #etmooc, finding some guidance and an invitation to jump in with a small, manageable project helped. I am enjoying the learning journey!

  2. Shira,
    I love your digital story. I have been a fan of “” publications and have taken an “iBook” class but have not yet published the book of my dreams either. I am so glad that you could put a snow day to good use and try something new and fun. You are such a good model of a life-long learner!

    • Shira Leibowitz said:

      Thanks, Fran! I will definitely take a look at I appreciate the recommendation. I suppose the most significant shift for me has been embracing that I am not an “expert”; I am a “learner”. I can playfully experiment and create without worry that the results are not masterpieces. I was nervous to create a digital story; yet when the etmooc assignment broke the tasks down into small, manageable pieces, I was able to set realistic goals for myself, make some progress and have fun on the journey.
      I’m looking forward for your iBook! Please do share it!

  3. A photo book was not a digital storytelling tool that I had thought of using. You have shown that it can be a great way to tell your story.

    • Shira Leibowitz said:

      Credit goes to Alan Levine’s “50+ Web 2.0 Ways to Tell a Story” along with his tutorials. I followed his advice to begin with the story, then find the images, and only then select a digital tool to use to share the story. In this case, I felt a photo book added meaning to the focus on friendship. Alan Levine’s guidance was valuable to me, reminding me the essence in digital story-telling is the story, not the digital tool. It is fun to think about creative alternatives! Thanks for the encouragement!

  4. Hi Shira, The post and digital story are terrific. I’m looking forward to more digital stories from you. If this doesn’t help me to stay up for #educoach, nothing will. Thanks for sharing.

    • Shira Leibowitz said:

      Thanks, Maureen! I’ve long admired your digital stories and those you write with your class! Hoping you will stay up for #educoach. I consistently learn so much from you.

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