Simple digital storytelling training game

Simple card game gets kids thinking about building more complex online stories.

Aleszu Bajak of Storybench.org recently shared a great little game he’s offering for free as a digital download on the Storybench website.

The premise of the game is simple. Students take a story pitch, they select three elements, and they sketch out a quick blueprint of the story with the elements. They could do this individually, but the discussion within teams would probably be more enriching.

For less experienced students, you could select out fewer cards so there aren’t as many variables. More advanced students might be able to do two different variations, then discuss the differences between the two.

More than anything, it gets kids thinking about the ways to build stories in more complex and engaging ways, rather than defaulting to the headline-image-story structure that is the default in most content management systems.

Once you’ve tried it with students, you might challenge them to think beyond the cards. Is there another mode of storytelling that isn’t included (i.e. a missing card)? Do any of the cards introduce more risk of bias or potential ethical dilemmas? And what about time and resources? Can you estimate how much time and how many people you’d need in order to execute each planned package?

The idea is to get them thinking about the many digital storytelling options that are out there and, eventually, to get them to instinctively plan more engaging stories using all the tools at their disposal.

Michelle Balmeo

Michelle Balmeo, MJE, is the adviser of The Whirlwind, a reemerging news publication at West Albany High School in Albany, Ore. For 11 years prior to relocating to Oregon, she advised a media staff in the Silicon Valley. In her career, she has been selected as CA Journalism Teacher of the Year, a JEA Rising Star, and a DJNF Distinguished Adviser. She was formerly the JEA Web Curriculum Leader.

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