Edtech Solutions
Network Summit
Edtech Advocacy &
Policy Summit
Change display time — Currently: Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (Event time)
Save to My Favorites

Culturally Relevant Storytelling: Moviemaking to Lift Student Voices

Pennsylvania Convention Center, 120BC

Listen and learn : Ed talk


Teacher, Author, Speaker
James Workman Middle School
As a middle school teacher for 18 years and a California Teacher of the Year (2014), Jessica has continually worked to redefine what learning looks like in her classroom. An ISTE author, Jessica's book, Moviemaking in the Classroom, was released in October 2021. She is an advocate for student choice and voice, as demonstrated by the original content her students regularly publish for a global audience. She also spent over a decade as a professional development instructor and Consulting Teacher for a digital storytelling non-profit organization called DIGICOM Learning, aimed at promoting moviemaking in southern California classrooms.
Instructional Coach
Palm Springs Unified School District
Georgia Terlaje has taught for 34 years and is currently and instructional coach for Palm Springs Unified. She has used digital storytelling as an instructional strategy for 12 years and has presented on the topic at both regional and national conferences. She was also instrumental in creating PSUSD’s first elementary film festival that is now in it’s 4th year. Georgia is also a teacher-consultant for DIGICOM Learning. In this role, she is a lead instructor for professional development courses for teachers in the area of digital storytelling. Georgia has a digital storytelling podcast, “Storytelling Saves the World”.

Session description

Digital storytelling is a powerfully inclusive, culturally relevant strategy that can transform classroom climate and impact student learning. Find out how to use moviemaking to create an equity-driven classroom that is responsive to who students are as individuals. Learn how to integrate moviemaking into any content or grade level!
Grade level: PK-12
Skill level: Beginner

Purpose & objective

The purpose of this presentation is to present digital storytelling through moviemaking as a culturally relevant instructional strategy that can be used to foster equity and social-emotional learning. Attendees will understand how storytelling connects to learning and the impact of stories on the brain. Participants will also learn about several moviemaking lesson frames that can be used with any content/grade level. An array of student-created movies will be showcased as exemplars. Attendees will leave with a clear understanding of the capacity moviemaking has to lift under-represented voices, as well as to help students process their emotions and clearly communicate diverse perspectives on a variety of topics.

More [+]


1. Welcome, presenter introductions - 3 minutes
2. Description of educational context in which presenters work (i.e. student and community demographics, barriers). Identifying the challenge: Structuring culturally relevant learning opportunities in post-pandemic classrooms. - 5 minutes
3. Presenters will discuss the hallmarks of culturally responsive instruction and explain how digital storytelling (in particular, moviemaking) exemplifies this instructional philosophy. Presenters will share research as they further connect storytelling to the learning process and brain science. - 5 minutes
4. Presenters will showcase culturally relevant moviemaking projects and explain how to effectively integrate them in any classroom and/or content area. Featured projects include the "Me in Three" project to introduce the concept of storytelling, as well as the "BioPoem" project. Both of these projects can be used for personal expression to build community and share cultural background. - 10 minutes
5. Presenters will explain how moviemaking can function as a tool to build empathy both within and outside of specific cultural groups. (Similar to the concept of utilizing texts as windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors.) They will share the "In My Time" moviemaking lesson frame and how it can be used to lift under-represented voices. Includes several student-created examples pertaining to Black history and Hispanic Heritage Month. Next, presenters will share the culturally relevant "Where I'm From" movie project and show several examples created by Latinx students. - 15 minutes
6. Presenters will showcase both the "Video Haiku" project and the "Personal Story" project, including examples created by students from a variety of backgrounds. This portion of the presentation will focus heavily on allowing students to find and develop messages they want to broadcast into the world to communicate their learning, affect change, and/or share their lived experiences. - 10 minutes
7. Presenters discuss how teachers can scaffold storytelling for success in the classroom. This includes tips for how to begin, the storytelling process, common pitfalls to avoid, and helping students recognize the potential value of sharing their work with others. - 10 minutes
8. Closing and additional resources. - 2 minutes

More [+]

Supporting research

Pack, Jessica (2021). Moviemaking in the Classroom: Lifting Student Voices Through Digital Storytelling.

Briant, K. J., Halter, A., Marchello, N., Escareño, M., & Thompson, B. (2016, November). The power of digital storytelling as a culturally relevant health promotion tool. Health promotion practice. Retrieved September 28, 2022, from

Gallo, C. (2019). Storytelling to Inspire, Educate, and Engage. American Journal of Health Promotion, 33(3), 469–472.

Will, M., & Najarro, I. (2022, May 10). What is culturally responsive teaching? Education Week. Retrieved September 28, 2022, from

Peterson, L. (2018, October 17). The Science Behind The Art Of Storytelling. Harvard Business Publishing: Corporate Learning.

Vu, V., Warschauer, M., & Yim, S. (2019). Digital Storytelling: A District Initiative for Academic Literacy Improvement. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 63(3), 257-267.

Zak, P. J. (2013, December 13). How Stories Change the Brain. Greater Good Magazine.

More [+]

Session specifications

Coaches, Curriculum/district specialists, Teachers
Attendee devices:
Devices useful
Attendee device specification:
Smartphone: Android, iOS, Windows
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Participant accounts, software and other materials:
Participants may want to have devices they can utilize to access a variety of resources that will be shared by participants throughout the presentation.
Subject area:
ELL, Language arts
ISTE Standards:
For Students:
Creative Communicator
  • Students create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.
  • Students communicate complex ideas clearly and effectively by creating or using a variety of digital objects such as visualizations, models or simulations.
  • Students publish or present content that customizes the message and medium for their intended audiences.

People also viewed

Building High-Impact Literacy Skills for All by Centering Learner Variability
Group Work That Works
K-12 Open Education Resources: What Was Unimaginable Is Now Possible