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Creative Constructor
Lab Virtual
Leadership Exchange
at ISTELive 21
Edtech Advocacy &
Policy Summit

Everyone Has a Story: Narrowing Language Barriers for Immigrant Students

Participate and share

Participate and share : Poster

Saturday, December 5, 8:00–9:00 am PST (Pacific Standard Time)

Laura De Vizcaya  
Luciana Dibildox De Vecchi  
Pía González Jiménez  
Paola Harp Pizá  
Samara Kalis Macías  
Daniela Beristain De Lille  

Learn how sixth-grade students use design thinking and digital storytelling to create an ebook for teachers with strategies to emphatize with immigrant students, providing both with tools to narrow the emotional gap between them, thus empowering youngsters with resources for a successful adaptation to a non-Spanish environment.

Audience: Teachers, Teacher education/higher ed faculty, Principals/head teachers
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices required
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: iOS
Laptop: Mac
Tablet: iOS
Topic: Equity & inclusion
Grade level: 3-5
Subject area: Language arts, ESL
ISTE Standards: For Students:
Global Collaborator
  • Students use digital tools to connect with learners from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, engaging with them in ways that broaden mutual understanding and learning.
Empowered Learner
  • Students build networks and customize their learning environments in ways that support the learning process.
Innovative Designer
  • Students know and use a deliberate design process for generating ideas, testing theories, creating innovative artifacts or solving authentic problems.
Additional detail: Student presentation

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

Migration is a global issue that increases on a daily basis due to political and economic causes. The reasons why people decide to travel abroad can be summarized on a desperate search for a solution towards new opportunities and a better quality of life. Children are the most vulnerable variable on the migration equation and just as they might also be the most benefited on the long term, their first encounters with a new country may be tough and full of obstacles. In the specific case of Latin America immigrants who travel to the United States following their parents’ job opportunities or the search for political asylum, like Mexicans and Venezuelans respectively, the most common barrier they face is an evident difficulty to communicate as they are set on an English speaking environment limiting their chances for receiving education and for building emotional bonds with those around them.

American teachers that receive non-English speaking students in their classes recognize that completing curricular standards is a very demanding task when half of the students lack ESL skills. Being unable to communicate and establish emotional bonds because of language limitations makes teaching and learning more difficult and increases the chances of failure for both teacher and students.

Therefore, fifth grade students from Highlands International School worked on becoming aware of the causes and effects of migration; and, using the specific case of Venezuelan students in Florida they came up with ideas that helped them overturn language barriers to aid a group of Junior High students bond with their teacher so that they could adapt more easily to a new learning environment. For the project 5th grade students followed the process of Design Thinking and used elements of Digital Storytelling to create an ebook to help immigrant students adapt to an English speaking environment by strengthening emotional bonds with their non-Spanish speaking teacher.

Technology and mastery of digital tools were crucial for this project. They allowed students and teachers from both contexts to create communication networks to deepen on specific problems that needed to be addressed. Through this, Mexican
students applied their ESL and literacy skills to create stories, tools and resources that might help teachers and immigrant students adapt more easily.

Join this inspiring session to witness how, by raising awareness about global issues, elementary students were able to develop a digital manual that can help teachers around the world take in immigrant students with a given set of strategies to nurture their adaptation process.

The main purpose and objectives for this presentation are:

- To share with the audience the development of a project that addresses the effects of a global issue from the perspective of 5th grade students.
- To prove how Design Thinking and Digital Storytelling have become powerful tools for students and educators to engage in a more significant way.
- To share students’ creativity when applying ESL and multiple literacy skills to create stories that narrow the gaps between kids from very different contexts and backgrounds.
- To demonstrate there are different ways to use technology on a 1:1 instructional program to develop students language skills.

Supporting research

• Bernard R. Robin (2008) Digital Storytelling: A Powerful Technology Tool for the 21st Century Classroom, Theory Into Practice, 47:3, 220-228, DOI: 10.1080/00405840802153916

• Chun-Ming Hung, Gwo-Jen Hwang, & Iwen Huang. (2012). A Project-based Digital Storytelling Approach for Improving Students' Learning Motivation, ProblemSolving Competence and Learning Achievement. Journal of Educational Technology
& Society, 15(4), 368-379. Retrieved from 15.4.368

• Egan, K. (1986). Teaching as storytelling. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

• Robin, B. (2006). The Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling. In C. Crawford, R. Carlsen, K. McFerrin, J. Price, R. Weber & D. Willis (Eds.), Proceedings of SITE 2006-Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference (pp. 709-716). Orlando, Florida, USA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved September 26, 2019 from https://

• Robin, B. & Pierson, M. (2005). A Multilevel Approach to Using Digital Storytelling in the Classroom. In C. Crawford, R. Carlsen, I. Gibson, K. McFerrin, J. Price, R. Weber & D. Willis (Eds.), Proceedings of SITE 2005--Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference (pp. 708-716). Phoenix, AZ, USA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved September 27, 2019 from

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Laura De Vizcaya, Highlands International School
Pía González Jiménez, Highlands International School
Paola Harp Pizá, Highlands International School
Samara Kalis Macías, Highlands International School
Daniela Beristain De Lille, Highlands International School

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