Spring 2012 Feature Article:  iPads & Digital Stories

by Arial Kann, UW-L TESOL intern

students workingLast Fall, my fellow TESOL interns and I embarked on an educational exploration as TESOL Coordinator Janis Hanson had us do an iPad project with ESL students from China, Japan, and Saudi Arabia. Each ESL student and TESOL intern in the ESL 150 labs created a children’s story based on Bananas Sometimes by Elizabeth Strauss, using StoryKit, DrawCast, and the iPad camera. Everyone constructed their pages using whatever materials they had on hand and helped each other with setting up and taking pictures.

Over the course of a week, we made storyboards, revised our stories, practiced reading them out loud, and used the iPads to turn our story ideas into handheld reality. Many of us had only had limited experience, if any,  with the iPad; and together we learned to navigate the different applications involved in our story-making, as well as post them online and share them with those who came to our open house. As one intern said, “This [project] has challenged me to become more adept with recording media as well as facilitating creative thinking among students. I was also able to collaborate with other interns on how best to explain the processes that students needed to understand to properly finish their work.” These valuable learning and teaching experiences will stay with us as we embark on future forays into teaching English language learners.

A number of the ESL lab students embraced the project wholeheartedly and turned out some wonderfully charming stories like Sometimes a Pop-top Can , Sometimes Broccoli, and Scarves Sometimes. The interns also got in contact with their inner children and produced stories like Sometimes Candy and Sometimes a Fork. One intern produced a sweet love story called Necklaces Sometimes.            

As with any exploration, we learned a lot about the applications we set out to conquer; but, even more so, we learned a lot about ourselves and about working together in a way that was much more fun than strictly work. On our return journey this spring semester 2012, we will apply what we’ve learned and push our boundaries further. We look forward to seeing you at our next open house on May 1, 2012, 8:55 - 9:35 a.m., at 3314 Centennial.   

Our thanks for support from

the UW-L School of Education,

 the Center for Advancing Teaching & Learning,

and Academic Technology Services  

The UW-L TESOL program is part of the Department of Modern Languages.

Mission Statement:
  The ability to communicate across national and linguistic borders has become essential in our globalized world.  The mission of the Department of Modern Languages is to help students develop the linguistic, literary and cross-cultural competence necessary to live, work and be lifelong learners in our diverse world.

Contact information:  Janis Hanson, TESOL Coordinator,

We dedicate our  website to the founding mother of the TESOL minor and the ESL Institute at UWL: Dr. Mary Gayle Pifer.