Watson Chronicle


Programs for P-12 Students

Digital Storytelling Event Attracts Record Number of Participants

Monday, May 05, 2014

Elementary student high-fives Sammy the Seahawk at the 6th annual Digital Storytelling Contest

Elementary, middle and high school students exhibited digital stories that they had designed, created and produced at the 6th annual Digital Storytelling Contest held at the Watson College of Education on April 29. More than 150 students from three counties participated in the event, including some who have been in the U.S. for as little as four weeks.

Eleni Pappamihiel, associate professor and Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) program coordinator and Denise Ousley-Exum, associate professor in the Secondary Education program, in partnership with Centro Hispano, initiated the event to help non-native English speakers scaffold language. Andrea Belletti, ESL coordinator for New Hanover County, says digital storytelling gives students a way to express their knowledge of content.

 “The children produce amazing stories and presenting them here at the college gives them a wonderful sense of accomplishment,” she said. “This pride is clearly visible on their faces as their individual stories come up.”

Angela McKinney, lead ESL teacher at Williston Middle School, brought 40 students to the 2014 event. McKinney has participated in Digital Storytelling at WCE since its inception. She explained how the program has evolved.

“The first year students were asked to create stories around the theme, ‘What it means to be an American,’ but that was challenging for students who didn’t yet view themselves as American,” McKinney said. 

Now, the program is more closely aligned to academic content taught in schools, and students are given wide berth in selecting areas of focus.

6th annual Digital Storytelling Contest To help get projects started, McKinney asks students to share something that they enjoyed learning about at school. She says this approach helps students focus on areas of personal interest and also provides valuable feedback for general education teachers who gain an understanding of what students comprehend and are engaged in in the classroom.

Following the presentations, students enjoyed lunch and a visit from Sammy the Seahawk. In the afternoon, elementary students participated in a Literacy Live event at the Watson College while older students toured the UNCW campus.

During the tour, UNCW students Chris Montero and Justin Borges shared their personal experiences as English language learners. Montero is a graduate student and the MI CASA program advisor of Centro Hispano. Borges is an undergraduate student employee for Centro Hispano.

New Hanover High School teachers Mary Whitehead and Sandy McGee said the presentation was especially meaningful for students.

“Most of our students think it’s too hard to get into college,” Whitehead said. “They don’t have any relatives who have ever done that. Opportunities like this help change their goals for the future.”

Students who earned honorable mention for their entries were given “Future Seahawk” T-shirts. First place finishers were awarded $100 gift cards. Runners-up were awarded $50 gift cards.

6th annual Digital Storytelling Contest Top honors went to:

  • Nancy Hernandez and Lopez Bautisia, Heide Trask High School for “What is Art?”
  • Marabella Cruz and Kenya Rivera, Cape Fear Middle School for “Why Would Somebody Leave What They Love the Most?”
  • C. Ivan C. (Christian Cortez), Carolina Beach Elementary for “Jonathan Plays With His Friends”

Runner-up and honorable mention recognitions were awarded for:

High School Presentations

  • “Homographs,” by Jose Flores, Hser Nay Htoo, photos by Shei Mo, New Hanover High School (NHHS)
  • “What Do You Know About the Revolution in Egypt” by Shahdan Elgazzar, NHHS
  • “Biotic and Abiotic,” by Kenia Estroda and SayHtoo Paw, Hoggard High School
  • “What is Different About Life in a Refugee Camp and Life in America?” by Ehta Mu, Mue Seik and Ka Taw Phaw, NHHS

Middle School Presentations

  • “The World of Science,” by Jacqueline Jiminez Rojas, Williston Middle School
  • “Dreams,” by Carina Meza, Cape Fear Middle School
  • “Healthy Living,” by Jessica Sanchez, West Pender Middle School
  • “Bayern vs. Milan,” by Dennis Bautista, Burgaw Middle School

Elementary School Presentations

  • “I Want to Be a Spanish Teacher,” by Pablo Baltazar, Old Dock Elementary
  • “What Causes Tornadoes?” by Kevin Castaneda, College Park Elementary
  • “How to Make Paper Airplanes,” by Juan Carlos Hernandez, Rocky Point Elementary
  • “What Do Rabbits Need to Live?” by Nayi Mabeli Hernandez, College Park Elementary

Student presentations can be viewed at https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0BwHeEIk_s2ONZUNLX29odG4tS1E&usp=sharing