History of the ‘Tell Your Own Story’ Project

A major impetus for my decision to travel during the 2011-12 school year was my growing desire to ‘Give Voice’ to students around the world. Digital technology had become so affordable, and portable, that it is now possible, with little budget, to provide students with basic equipment with which to tell their own stories. The possibility of this being a reality has been playing in my mind for the previous two years. At my school, one of the ways our Middle School students engage in the world is through service projects. One such project was fundraising for Women for Afghan Women to support their efforts to build and maintain schools for girls in Afghanistan. While our girls were enthusiastic about their fundraising (their hearts are so big!), there remained a disconnect: they could intellectualize that they were somehow making a difference, but to whom?

Flip Ultra HD Camcorder

While brainstorming with my good friend and science teacher Karen Meyers, we pondered about ways to make a more tangible and meaningful connection between our students and the Afghan students. What about Skyping? A good initial thought, but the Afghan school was remote and without internet access. What if we sent a Flip camera to Afghanistan via a WAW representative so that the Afghan girls could video their stories, in their own words, and send it back to our students? The size of a cell phone and only costing $100, a Flip camera required nothing more than pressing the red record button and would record up to 2 hours of footage

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. The thought of how powerful it would be for the girls to share their lives, their hopes, their dreams, their day to day experiences with each other made my heart sing! Although we never managed to send that camera, it had planted a seed.

I was fortunate that my school administrators shared my vision and granted me opportunity to travel during the 2011-2012 school year. After some research, I put together a digital media production studio designed to fit in a backpack:

Backpack Production Studio: iPad2 with iMovie App, iPhone4, Canon Powershot, Slik Video Spring II tripod, and MacBook Air with FCE and iMovie

The first students to prove that quality video production is possible on the iPad were high school students at Chey School in Siem Reap Provence, Cambodia. During one week, the students met for one hour a day. Three teams chose topics, wrote voiceover scripts, recorded video, and edited videos that present their voices, unfiltered, to the world. It was, and will remain, one of the most rewarding teaching experiences of my life.

To view the videos, click HERE.

  • Joanne Martin

    Diana, I have watched all three videos several times now. However, I didn’t read your background on the “Tell Your Own Story Project” until just now. Talk about making your heart sing! My first graders were fascinated with the students’ videos, as am I. This is just the beginning of your journey. Thank you for sharing.

  • Lila

    Hi! I loved your video! I am in sixth grade. The video was amazing. Was the iPad new to you? Did you think it was cool? Keep up the good work!


  • Emily

    Hi Guys i loved the video you made and I hope you will make more videos. I am in sixth grade and i love sports. Have a really good day.

  • Rachel

    Hi everyone,
    I loved your videos. I enjoyed them very much. I can tell that you put a lot of effort into them. Did you enjoy seeing an Ipad for the first time? Anyway have a great day.

  • bridget

    I really liked your videos. I really enjoy learning about your country. Did you like seeing the ipad? I am and in 6th grade, what grade are you in? Anyway have a great day!

  • Ashley

    Dear Students,
    I love your video! I wish I could help give everyone in your town water. I am in sixth grade and I love doing any type of community service projects. I would like to ask you a few questions. Have you ever used am iPad before making this video? I only use iPads playing games and checking my email. Did you have fun making the video? I make videos all the time and they are so fun! Of course, my videos are usually just for fun, so I can do all kinds of crazy things. Where do you go to school? I go to Garrison Forest, as you probably know from me commenting on this video. In class, we might get to talk face to face. I can’t wait!