I was introduced to PhotoStory 3 when I did the GDITE (Graduate Diploma of Information Technology in Education) at Wintec in 2007-2008. It is a really simple programme that uses photos, text, audio, music and some wizz bang effects to, well, create a story with photos. It tells you step by step how to create a PhotoStory. To download it for free, simply google PhotoStory 3.
I've used PhotoStory 3 several times now. In 2009 the school I taught at was having a new technology block built. So I dutifully took photos of classrooms being moved to make way and the progress of the building for my class to use and record the progress of the project.
Last year, my class did a scientific exploration of kitchen chemistry. Again I took photos of them concocting various things with exciting ingredients like baking soda, lemon juice, vinegar and food colouring. I asked them to show what they had learned from doing the experiements.
Deary me, I was too broad.
What I got back was a series of PhotoStories that sounded like a scientist had gone completely mad with the features in PhotoStory in overdrive, and no scientific learning being explained.
During the Rugby World Cup I asked them again to use PhotoStory. I asked them to take photos of each other doing those weird and wonderful actions that explain their decisions on the rugby field. Some of them managed to do the actions for gridiron/American football rather than rugby, but hey, it happens. This was a bit simpler for them to achieve. It didn't require mad scientist voices either.
This year, during our Anzac Day unit, I decided to try this again.
I sent my students in groups of three off into the Multi-Purpose Room to cook Anzac Biscuits. I asked the to take turns to take photos of the process. One group did forget, and had to improvise.
The first group finished had tried to do the whole mad scientist thing like last year. I pointed out that the task told them to: "Make Anzac biscuits. Take photos of each stage of making Anzac biscuits. Use the photos to make a PhotoStory 3 presentation to show the step by step process of making Anzac biscuits."
Naturally I sent them back to redo it. They had to take out the mad scientist and put into it how Anzac Biscuits are made, you know, all that stuff about how much of each ingredient, whether or not to sift or stir or whatever.
So my message here people is: Be specific about what you want to achieve when using PhotoStory 3. Yes, it is great that they are using all the bells and whistles in the program, but they also need to be effectively getting a message across to the audience, even if that audience is their teacher.
In my Anzac Biscuit PhotoStory, I would expect that the audience would be able to use the PhotoStory to make the biscuits without having the recipe in front of them. In the kitchen chemistry PhotoStory I would expect that you would be explaining how the reaction occurs between two or more ingredients so I could evaluate your understanding.
So, as you can see, it is a great tool, but as a teacher, I have to be very clear about what I want my students to achieve and communicate with this tool.