Stories from Quarantine tells a combination of historical and fictional stories from the North Head Quarantine Station in Sydney, NSW. It is a multi-modal work based on and extending Inside the Quarantine Station (Simon, 2017). It does not fit neatly into the digital literature categorisations of Walsh (2013) or Lamb (2011), but exhibits characteristics of storytelling such as structure, linearity, connection and character enabled by digital affordances (Alexander, 2011, p. 14).
This project was prepared for use by a primary Teacher Librarian or casual classroom teacher in the North Shore area of Sydney. In both roles, one teaches students across various disciplines from Kindergarten through Year Six (K-6). This resource has the potential to be used across various curriculum areas from K-6. Data from seven schools in the locality show Indicator of Community Socio-Economic Advantage (ICSEA) levels ranging between 1151 and 1194 and National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) reading and writing scores that range from state average to well above state average (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, n.d.). There are minimal amounts of students needing significant learning support, but students from language backgrounds other than English (LBOTE) account for 23% to 53% of school populations making the learning needs of students learning English as a foreign language important to consider.
The Quarantine Station site is an important landmark on Sydney’s North Shore with historical and geographical relevance on all scales from personal to international/global. In addition to having relevance to knowledge area content across the K-6 spectrum, Stories from Quarantine particularly serves Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS) Inquiry and Skills outcomes from the Australian Curriculum relating to:
- data collection through observation and sources provided or located, and
- exploring points of view and distinguishing between fact and opinion (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), 2016b).
The resource incorporates both factual text and historical fiction presented multi-modally via images, audio, video and text, and includes both primary and secondary source material. It would be effectively used both to engage students in learning topical information as well as to provide a model for student creation of digital narratives. This would fulfil outcomes from multiple learning areas such as HASS (including ACHASSI010, ACHASSI027, ACHASSI043, ACHASSI061, ACHASSI082, ACHASSI105, ACHASSI133 (ACARA, 2016b)), and English (including ACELY1654, ACELY1664, ACELY1674, ACELY1685, ACELY1697, ACELY1707, ACELY1717 (ACARA, 2016a)).
To encourage student creation, it was created using digital platforms and tools accessible via student logins on devices attached to the New South Wales Department of Education and Training (NSW DET) school network. The tools are simple enough to use with primary students while still offering meaningful digital affordances for digital storytelling projects. The creation tools, Microsoft Sway (Microsoft, n.d.) and Powtoon (Powtoon, n.d.), have various templates and media available to assist students in overcoming “blank paper” issues (Tackvic, 2012), support digital citizenship by allowing limitation of material searches to Creative Commons licensed material, and also allow for uploading personally-created content. Microsoft Sway and Vimeo (Vimeo, n.d.) allow control regarding accessibility of the finished product – an important privacy consideration in educational contexts. Privacy control is available on Powtoon via paid subscription plans.
Stories from Quarantine uses rich literary language (Walsh, 2013). Though students in the target usage area tend to read well above state average (ACARA, n.d.), the text is also scaffolded with various digital features that enhance the challenging text (Alexander, 2011). Written content for the main flow of the story is accompanied by an audio read-aloud option and key vocabulary words are hyperlinked to explanations using simpler terms. Hyperlinks open in new windows, so that the main page always remains accessible for easy student navigation. The text makes use of the seven digital storytelling elements, such as emotional content, voice, economy and pacing to engage the audience (Robin, 2008 as cited in Matthews, 2014, p. 29). Photographs and videos provide visual aids to scaffold concept and vocabulary building, especially for students learning English as a foreign language (Verner, n.d., para. 6).
It is recommended that a gradual progression from teacher-directed class-wide use to independent use be followed in K-6. Some suggestions include:
- Kindergarten – use the resource to build teacher background information, use photos as historical investigation springboards;
- Stage 1 – work through the site as a whole-class lesson, then explore and review in groups;
- Stage 2 – introduce the site and demonstrate all features in a whole class lesson, complete exploration in groups;
- Stage 3 – introduce the digital features of the site, then encourage group or individual exploration.
- All stages – deconstruct resource as an exemplar and create own digital texts (Rossbridge, 2015).
Alexander, B. (2011). Storytelling: A tale of two generations. In The new digital storytelling: Creating narratives with new media (pp. 3-15). Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/lib/csuau/reader.action?docID=678297&ppg=20
Australian Curriculum, Assessment, and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (2016a). English. Retrieved from https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/f-10-curriculum/english/
Australian Curriculum, Assessment, and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (2016b). HASS. Retrieved from https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/f-10-curriculum/humanities-and-social-sciences/hass/
Australian Curriculum, Assessment, and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (n.d.). My School. Retrieved from https://www.myschool.edu.au/
Lamb, A. (2011). Reading redefined for a transmedia universe. Learning and Leading with Technology, 39(3), 12-17. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ehh&AN=67371172&site=ehost-live
Matthews, J. (2014). Voices from the heart: The use of digital storytelling in education. Community Practitioner, 87(1), 28-30. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/docview/1474889132?OpenUrlRefId=info:xri/sid:primo&accountid=10344
Microsoft. (n.d.). Sway. Retrieved September 26, 2018 from https://sway.office.com/
Q Station. (n.d.). About Q Station. Retrieved from https://www.qstation.com.au/q-station.html
Powtoon. (n.d.). Bring awesomeness to your classroom. Retrieved September 26, 2018 from https://www.powtoon.com/edu-home/
Rossbridge, J. (2015). Put it in writing: context, text and language</em|>. Newton, NSW: Primary English Teaching Association Australia (PETAA).
Simon, M. (2017). Inside the Quarantine Station. Historicool, 29, 20-23. Vermont, VIC: Historicool.
Simon, M. (2018). Stories from Quarantine. Retrieved from https://sway.office.com/O8dzmIF7B634sIo3?ref=Link
Tackvic, C. (2012). Digital storytelling: Using technology to spark creativity. The Educational Forum, 76(4), 426. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/10.1080/00131725.2012.707562
Verner, S. (n.d.). Practical suggestions for scaffolding in the content classroom. Retrieved from https://busyteacher.org/8916-practical-suggestions-scaffolding-esl-classroom.html
Vimeo. (n.d.). We’ve got a thing for video. Retrieved September 26, 2018 from https://vimeo.com/
Walsh, M. (2013). Literature in a digital environment. In L. McDonald (Ed.), A literature companion for teachers (pp. 181-194). Marrickville, NSW: Primary English Teaching Association Australia (PETAA). Retrieved from https://primo.csu.edu.au/discovery/fulldisplay?docid=alma990022907270402357&context=L&vid=61CSU_INST:61CSU&search_scope=MyInst_and_CI&tab=Everything&lang=en