Learn to Teach, Teach to Learn Stories

by Sheela Sethuraman on August 18, 2009

During the summer of 2007, with funding from MassIMPACT, Eduweave took its digital storytelling model to the South End Technology Center (SETC) located in Boston. SETC is run by the Dr. Mel King, a leading visionary in the field of education and social change. Each year, he conducts the “Learn 2 Teach, Teach 2 Learn” (L2T, T2L) program to train high-school urban youth to become producers of knowledge and share ideas and information.

What is L2T, T2L?

The goal of L2T, T2L program is to “develop critical mass to catalyze cultural change around learning, achievement and self-esteem for youth and their community”. In Phase 1, selected youth are introduced to new technologies and applications. In Phase 2, they are asked to create a project integrating the knowledge they have gained from various modules. In Phase 3, they are required to teach and mentor younger children in their communities. Eduweave’s digital storytelling module was taught in phase 1 to returning youth teachers – the nine young people who had attended the L2T, T2L program in 2006.


Students working on computers

Students working on digital stories

A skills survey was administered on the first day to evaluate the students’ software skills. The workshop used MassIMPACT’s “Spreading the Stories” curriculum and customized it to meet the needs of the target group. The elements chart and story circle checklist proved especially useful. In addition, a screencast was created to demonstrate how to use Audacity software to edit narration and music tracks. On the last day of the workshop, each student was asked to evaluate the stories for technical quality and content with the help of an evaluation form.


The participants were encouraged to create stories about topics relating to the L2T, T2L program. However, most of them chose to do stories on topics that were more personal such as identity, importance of family and interests and aspirations.

Student presentations at SETC

Student presentations at SETC

During phase 2, we convened as a group with the participants and SETC staff and decided that a smaller team of four youth teachers would create a ‘group story’ – one where they would talk about the L2T, T2L program and their personal experiences with learning and teaching technology. This ‘collective story’ was created in 10-12 hours despite their hectic schedule and other program commitments.

All the stories were screened during the youth project exposition and were well-received by the audience. Watch the stories on “Stories for Change” website.

Student Feedback

An online survey was administered midway to assess the engagement of the youth as well as make course corrections. Most of the participants said they liked the project and felt engaged. They had suggestions for how to further support them in developing their story and teaching it to other young people. Below are sample responses.

  1. What do you like about the digital storytelling workshop?
    • Telling a story about myself
    • You get to be creative
    • I like being able to tell a story with images or videos and allowing the listener to get a feel of what I am trying to say
    • The fact that it uses relevant pictures and personal narration to depict a meaningful thought
  2. What do you not like about the digital storytelling workshop?
    • It’s hard to record your voice without stuttering
    • The fact that one must go through numerous steps to finding non-copy written pictures and then ensure the name of the author is included in the credits
    • Writing the script
  3. What challenges do you anticipate in teaching the digital storytelling workshop to younger youth?
    • I think that keeping the kid’s focus is going to be a problem because its long and not always fun
    • Putting the entire narration and pics together given I haven’t learned that yet
    • Getting them to write a story
  4. Which handouts did you find helpful?
    • The examples of other stories
    • All of the handouts, especially the ones about breaking the script up and finding what objects or pictures fit best with each line
    • The story chart was most helpful no charges are necessary
      Storyboard chart
    • Session handouts..to let us know what we will do the day and stick to it

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