This week another fantastic group of Oklahoma educators completed our 2.5 day Celebrate Oklahoma Voices digital storytelling workshop, this time at Lowrey School about 30 minutes north of Tahlequah. Lowrey is one of the most innovative public schools in our state, with a 1:1 laptop program for students in grades 3-8. We have over 530 public school districts in Oklahoma, but only four currently implementing 1:1 laptop projects. (19 more will start 1:1 programs next year, however, thanks to ARRA grant funds.) Since the teachers and students at Lowrey all use Macbook laptops, all of their digital stories were created in iMovie. These are four of the digital stories created by teachers at Lowrey this week.
“Integration at Wagoner” by Sonya Farr tells the story of Coach Bill Benham, Sonya’s father, who led the first integrated basketball team at Wagoner. Wagoner is located about fifty miles west/southwest of Lowrey School, just north of Muskogee. It is wonderful Sonya was able to actually interview her father for this digital story, since this “history” comes alive so much more hearing it directly from him. It reminds me of a digital story a coach in Miami, Texas, created at a workshop I facilitated there around 2005. He told about what it was like to be a player on one of the first integrated basketball teams in West Texas. Stories like this which relate what it was like during the early days of desegregation are often powerful. These stories can be good catalysts for discussions about equal treatment, racism, discrimination, and human rights.
Kevin Crossno, a social studies teacher at The Casady School in Oklahoma City who attended COV at Lowrey, created a digital story titled, “The Founding of BSA.” As a Boy Scout myself, I really enjoyed hearing Kevin relate this history and particularly the fact that the first Boy Scout Troop in the United States was chartered in Pawhuska, Oklahoma! Boy Scouting in the USA is celebrating its 100 year anniversary this year!
I love food and food festivals, and Rachael Ranallo piqued my interest to visit the annual Italian Festival in McAlester, Oklahoma at the end of May this year with her digital story. The music she used added so much to the story!
Last of all, Jennifer Swafford shared the digital story, “Planting the Pines at Lowrey.” This is a great example of how teachers as well as students can help preserve their local, community history. Without storytellers like Jennifer, stories like this might not be shared online and preserved for generations to come. I loved seeing the current photos of these huge trees, and hearing the story about when they were planted years ago by Jennifer’s great uncle, Harold Terry. Jennifer’s dad, Benny Cassidy, tells the story, with help from his digital storytelling daughter. 🙂
If you are interested in participating in a Celebrate Oklahoma Voices workshop this year, we have seven more workshops this summer which still have open slots available. A total of 16 COV workshops are scheduled at this point through August in different parts of the state. Our workshop model includes ten to twenty-five participants, and if a workshop is not full educators from other schools can register to attend. We will also be offering a Celebrate Kansas Voices (CKV) workshop in Manhattan August 4-6, and more information about that opportunity (including cost and registration details) will be forthcoming next week.
Anyone is welcome to join both the Celebrate Oklahoma Voices learning community (with 787 members currently, and 574 videos) as well as the Celebrate Kansas Voices learning community which is just getting started. Learn more about Storychasers, the non-profit which presents COV and CKV, by visiting and subscribing to the Storychasers blog and following Storychasers on Twitter. Complete details about the Celebrate Oklahoma Voices digital storytelling model are available on the COV project wiki.