Rocks to Product: Cornwall Elementary Fall 2015

Over two different weeks, the Vermont Folklife Center's Discovering Community staff visited Cornwall Elementary to offer workshops on interview techniques, audio recording, photography, and editing all on iPod Touches supplied by the VFC.  The goal for the Cornwall staff was to end up with Google slideshows that students would present in front of the community.  Cornwall teachers enlisted the help of the VFC staff to give the students basic guidance on how to conduct interviews, record the audio, take supporting images, and then assemble all the media into the Google Slideshow.  Before the students conducted their site visits, the VFC staff offered workshops on how to record audio and edit the interview into sound bites, as well as basic principles of composition for photography.  After the site visits, VFC staff supported students in editing audio uploading edited audio and supporting pictures to google drive, to then insert into their slideshow.  VFC's Ned Castle was at the final presentation of the student projects.


Project Name: Rocks to Product

Project Type: Photos, Audio put into a Google Slideshow

Location, date, time: 12/9/16, and 12/10/16 Cornwall Elementary

VFC Collaborator: Greg Sharrow, Ned Castle, Kathleen Haughey, Myles David Jewell


  1. Intro (5 min)

    1. Students intro themselves/names/have you taken a picture before

    2. Ask students about their farm project and what they are excited to learn

    3. Bring up exploration / storytelling - explain role of workshop is to learn about how to explore and do digital storytelling and that they will get to take photos and record audio!

  2. Storytelling - Visual and Audio (10-15 min)

    1. Explain that visual storytelling is similar to writing: setting, characters, action, details.

    2. Share Paintball Slideshow (in Media Examples Folder)

    3. Ask: What did they enjoy?

    4. Ask: Ask if they can list some of the narrative elements from the piece: setting, characters, actions, details.

    5. List the visual/audio elements--create two lists (on board) by having students raise hands and give examples of things they remembered from the paintball slideshow

      1. List #1: Photo content they remember seeing.

      2. List #2: Audio content they remember hearing.

    6. Explain two following storytelling techniques by pointing out things on the lists that they created

      1. Photography Framing: Wide, Medium, Detail / Close-up

      2. Audio Types: Ambient/environmental vs. Voice/interview

    7. Big picture: explain that they will have to explore and document the farms so they capture the same kind of things for the farms that are on their photo/audio lists from the paintball piece.

  3. The Ethics of Representation: (10 minutes)

    1. Ask student volunteers to explain the difference between fiction and non-fiction writing.

    2. Ask students to think about and explain where the story comes from for a fiction story vs. non-fiction story. Fiction: inside students head; Non-fiction: from out in the world

    3. Explain that it’s harder to capture the real world than you think - and that even when you are making a non-fiction story from what’s happening in the world, the media-maker must make creative decisions in their head.

      1. Dorothea Lange / The Power of Framing - Show close-up framing first and ask students to shout out things they see/feel about the photo. Then show the zooomed out version with other perspectives and ask them again. Draw attention to the differences and the fact the photographer has lots of creative power with how they frame. (in Media Examples Folder)

      2. Ned Candy (Audio) / The Power of Audio Editing - Play longer version first - then play shorter version with edits. Draw attention to how audio can be edited to change meaning and how again the editor has tremendous power to create the non-fiction story. (in Media Examples Folder)

    4. Big Picture: As non-fiction storytellers (ethnographers) we all have a responsibility to be curious and try to represent the world as closely as we can - knowing that we will still have to make creative decisions about the non-fiction story in our head.

IV. Camera / Recording Tutorial (10 min)

  1. Voice Memo Tutorial - Go through screen shots to explain process for using voice memo.

  2. Camera Tutorial - Go through screen shots to explain process for using camera.

(I had them spend time taking test photos and recording audio at this point - took a while and was impossible to control - I’d jump straight to next activity and they can experiment then.)

  1. Series of Photographs- creating an image sentence. (20min)

    1. EXERCISE:  Show sample photos of beekeeping and football to explain the different kinds of photos: close-up, wide, medium, detail, action, etc.  Have students try to identify these.

    2. How do we get these shots?  

      1. Moving around a space/ Exploring

    3. Quick tips: Steady hands, focus, framing (what’s in vs. what’s out)

(Skipped all above for time)

  1. Send them out to document something outside - Wide, Medium, Detail (10 min)

  2. Share in small groups

  3. Full group conversation - Any challenges? Anything unexpected? How might this relate to the farm project?


V. Audio Vox Pop (Didn’t do...ran out of time - might just have them record ambient/environmental sounds when they go out to do photos in the activity above)

  1. Introduce concept

  2. Ask question, record, pause, record, done.

  3. Have groups come up with a question

  4. Go out to record questions

  5. Share out.


VI. Final Regroup - TBD


VFC Collaborator’s Reflections

Syllabus, Full Document:



FINAL Project Requirements: