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III. ACTION PLAN:    A. Technology Access    B. ICT Literacy    C. Professional Development    D. Community Involvement     [Data]

ICT Literacy Toolkit
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1. Standards
2. Research
3. Case Studies
4. ePortfolio Support
5. Presentations
6. More Resources

Effective Projects Case Study


Digtial Storytelling at Merrimack Valley School District


This is a story about a project that started 4/1/2007.

For more information, please contact: Kathleen Malsbenden at


The 2007-2008 Tech Mentor program provided teachers with ongoing learning, planning, and problem solving opportunities focused on Digital Storytelling. The mentors met in school teams, collaborated on line using the MVSD Mentor Forum, and meet monthly in face to face classes facilitated by the MVSD Technology Coordinator. The Tech Mentors helped each other develop units that integrated the storytelling process into the curriculum so that students could improve communication skills needed for this digital age. The Mentors shared strategies on applying digital storytelling effectively in classroom lessons and provided support for each other in developing digital storytelling lessons.


Funding: This project was supported by $10,700 from NCLB Title II-D (Educational Technology) and $0 in local funds. The project illustrates how federal funding supports Professional development through teacher leaders - Preparing one or more teachers in schools as tech leaders to assist other teachers. The project addressed the following grades and content areas:

PreK-2 Gr3-5 Gr6-8 EngLangArts Math Science SocSt TheArts


The Setting: We are a 5-town rural district in NH with 5 elementary schools feeding into middle and a high school. Each school has basic technology but not a lot of peripheral equipment. Classroom teachers generally use technology for management purposes but not for systematic use for instruction.


The plot: Our biggest challenge is time and money: time for teacher training, practice using the equipment, and time for reflection on how using these tools could change their instructional practice; and money to purchase the equipment that advances the use of technology in the classroom beyond the basic computers. A compelling factor for doing what we did was driven by teacher request for this specific focus. Finding the resources in the district budget for programs beyond basic needs is always difficult, so this grant provided the money for the equipment and training for 20 teachers. The biggest challenge was the equipment itself, making sure it was ready for use when the teachers wanted it. This again turns to the issue of time. This project was an additional component to an already busy time for the district technicians. The mentors set up as much as they could before asking the district technicians for assistance in networking the laptops for printing and file access.


The teachers: 20 teachers were directly involved. The grant itself funded 3 elementary teams of 2 each and 1 middle school team. However, after the call went out for applicants, the group expanded to include previous teacher leaders because of the high interest in the topic.


The students: Teachers required higher level thinking skills of their students in the stories they created. Creating good stories require writers to use creativity, analysis, and synthesis. The stories were done in groups, which promoted collaboration and decision-making, especially when the students were producing their project. Projects were relevant and interesting to the age of the students and the hands on learning kept them engaged. Teachers found that goals of creating one story were easily met because the students loved using the equipment to create their story. This in turn led to a greater understanding of what makes a good story.


The data: Groups met twice a month, once in school based groups and once in a full group session. Teachers were asked to answer specific questions in their small group discussions and post their reflections to Moodle. When they met as a full group, they shared information on use of the equipment, how to create better stories, student learning, and reactions students and the teachers had to this new way of telling a story. Anecdotal evidence suggests that all teachers found using technology for a specific purpose helped them better understand how to use it for broader purposes.The facilitator conducted interviews with groups of teachers and all groups responded to end-of-project questions posted on Moodle.  

The difference: 100% of teachers shared lesson plans showing evidence of digital story portfolio projects. Each teacher responded that students showed a deeper understanding of a subject after creating a story. For example, first graders made an alphabet book by finding articles with beginning letters of the alphabet, then taking a picture of that article, then recording themselves saying the beginning sound and then fianlly as the full word. Once this process was done, the teacher merged all the pictures and sounds into movie. As the students watched their movie, they repeated the alphabet, which in turn led to a quicker grasp of the letter-sound association. The teacher reported that all her students knew their letters and sounds by the finish of the project, something that has never happened so quickly and as early in the school year.Teachers also measured student responses through tests and anecdotal responses. This is the 4th year of a tech-mentor program at Merrimack Valley. This is a volunteer program that requires teachers to commit to one year of training with a promise to train other teachers in methods they accumulate during the year. As word of this program has grown, more teachers come forward asking when the next mentor group will begin. Also, there are continued requests for more training by past mentors as well as these same mentors recommending it to other teachers.Responses to feedback indicate that the collaborative group structure was very helpful to the adult learners and they like the cross district makeup of the mentor groups.


Essential conditions: Money for technology, time for training, skill and knowledge of trainer, classroom access to equipment as well as administrative support are essential conditions for the success of the project.


Changes for the future: If this were to be done again, I would focus on one building and build capacity in one building at a time to facilitate my ability to meet more often with individual teachers. I would set evaluation criteria before the project, know how to evaluate the goal before project begins, and communicate this to the participants. Consider evaluating 2 components: learning by teachers, and learning by students. Consider how to monitor long term.


Recommendations: My recommendations are:Gain administrative support.Create Interest by having a primary topic focus, time frame.Focus on team collaboration of so that they could help each other and bring their knowledge to group meetings.The adult learning was contingent on the cohort groups that supported each other on a daily basis. Be sure to have teachers who are as enthusiastic about the curriculum, as they are the tools they receive. Have the topic focuses on depth not breadth.


Telling our story: Teams share student projects with colleagues and parents and students. Each mentor is required to present their project to their faculty or small group of teachers. In there presentations they always relate the impact on student learning as it evident the students are in charge of their products.


Documents to share: Moodle, Application, Announcement