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11 — Digital storytelling: Taking the reader on a journey

Graphic image of pines

Above: Pine Point, illustration by Jan Gillbank

In this sequence the students learn about processes related to the development of digital stories and explore the power of storytelling using the digital text Welcome to Pine Point.

Pine Point was a mining town in the Northwest Territories of Canada. The town was founded in 1962 as a project jointly developed by the Canadian Government and the mining company Cominco. When the mine closed in 1988, the single-industry town closed and most buildings were destroyed. Welcome to Pine Point was created by Michael Simons and Paul Shoebridge and produced by the National Film Board of Canada. The story grew from a pre-existing website built by Pine Point resident Richard Cloutier. This digital story is the story of the impact of corporate decisions on individual lives. It is a gentle story, allowing its audience to draw their own conclusions. Its message of protest operates in an almost subliminal way.

Activity 1: Exploring the digital story

In this activity the students compare some of the different ways texts tell stories. Talk to the students about whether they have ever had an experience where a place they have lived has disappeared. Discuss how this might happen in different contexts (for example, people from areas reliant on finite resources for employment, people who have been affected by major construction projects such as the Snowy Mountains Scheme, or refugees forced from their homes). The students should analyse the wikipedia entry on Pine Point as well as Richard Coulter’s Pine Point Revisited website, before engaging with the digital story Welcome to Pine Point. Through this process, they should explore the following questions about this text: 

Closely examine the Welcome to Pine Point digital story. In ‘The Goggles’, an article or as the writers call it, a manifesto about this story, the creators outlined a series of elements they believed were essential. The following observations from this document could be used as a basis for a close textual analysis by the whole class. The digital story:

Activity 2: Class discussion

Inform the students that they are going to read the digital story and generate some questions for class discussion. Explain the different types of questions to the students and ask them to create some questions during their reading. For example: 

Group the students and invite them to discuss the text based on the questions they have developed.