Digital Storytelling - Abraham Lincoln's Dog, Fido, From Clare Caddell
By Clare Caddell
VoiceThread brought a little-known story about Lincoln to life, with images as well as voice. It was created in response to my second and third graders, who wanted to know more about Lincoln’s dog, Fido.
I researched the details online, wrote - and rewrote! - my script and searched for images that were as historically accurate, to the time period, as I could find. Great sources for images were Wikimedia Commons and the American Memory project resources from the Library of Congress, because they provided some background information on the dates and locations.
My objective was to tell a valuable story digitally, since my students were in the midst of evaluating online media and then creating their own digital stories. This became my model for them to consider. Another objective was to have fun creating it, and I did.
Finding the research online, and using VoiceThread as my tool was the easiest part of the project.
It was surprisingly hard to find a good, representative picture of a sofa that might look like one owned by Lincoln.
Image sources mentioned above, and I liked being able to mark the map to show the route east to D.C. because I like to work geography into things. The route is not really precise, just a representation.
It’s all about story. The initial stimulus for me to develop a media evaluation unit was a reaction against some of the media-bits on YouTube that I’ve heard my students discussing.
They are spending their valuable time on some media that doesn’t even tell a story. Now, not all stories have to be historical and “educational”, but learning and sharing stories is a way for students to use so many valuable skills. Our students are bound to be producers of digital media, no matter what direction their educations take, and helping them to be more thoughtful producers of it is something that can be woven into almost any curriculum area. I asked my students to focus on the Facts, Inferences, Decisions and Opinions they hoped their audience would have after viewing their pieces. Which gave us the acronym FIDO, which lead to the story about Lincoln’s Fido….As teachers, we can be media creators, too, and hone our storytelling skills to hook students as we set the stage for new projects.
I would hope that a story like this (which is one that younger history buffs can relate to moreso than some of the more difficult-to-understand accomplishments for which Lincoln is famous) might help to inspire both teachers and students to learn more about about people around us: past, present; famous or family and tell some other stories that if not told, will be forgotten. It’s all about sharing, and you’ve given us a great tool do it with.