Storybird in the Classroom

Why use Storybird?

I started using Storybird in my 4th grade classroom in December and in our 4 months of use, it’s starting to become our new favorite Web 2.0 tool. I know that there are a numerous amount of Websites that encourage writers to submit their creative stories, so why in the world would I choose this one? Here are 5 reasons I love this site:

  1. Artwork is visually stunning and there is a good amount to choose from.
  2. The inspirational artwork makes it easy for my students to come up with interesting stories.
  3. After creating and publishing a story, the final product is very professional looking.
  4. Storybird allows you to embed stories. This has been a great motivation to my students because I have started creating class contests where the winners have their stories featured on our class Webpage
  5. Features for teachers make creating assignments, grading, giving feedback, and rewarding students very easy.

Grading Screenshot

Class Assignments:

Here are some sample assignments in Storybird that I’ve created to help meet the 4th grade California ELA content standards:

Create a holiday or winter story and have one of your characters experience some type of magic. Make sure your story has a well thought out beginning, middle, and ending. 

  • Writing Strategies 1.1 – Select a focus, and organizational structure, and a point of view based upon purpose, audience, length, and format requirements. 

Choose a story that you have already created in Storybird. Edit it and make changes by fixing any mistakes and improving at least 4 of your pages. Make sure that you include 1 simile and 1 metaphor somewhere in your story. 

  • Writing Strategies 1.10 – Edit and revise selected drafts to improve coherence and progression by adding, deleting, consolidating, and rearranging text.

Storybird & Bloom’s Taxonomy

Here’s my Google Presentation about how I’ve used my Storybird experience in the classroom to make a connection to the 2 highest levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy: creating & evaluating.

I’ve also found that analyzing plays an important role in the creation of new stories.  When a student chooses artwork from an artist, he/she is limited to creating a story only with the artwork submitted by that particular artist. In that situation, the student must analyze the pictures given and work within that set to create a story that is interesting and makes sense. Here’s an example of what the canvas looks like when you have chosen artwork:

If a student does not want to write a story using one artist’s artwork, they also have the option to use art that is tagged with the same word. For example, the very 1st Storybird assignment in my class was for my students to create a holiday/winter story. Searching for the tag winter will pull up all of the winter pictures. A student may then create a story with all of pictures that share that same tag. Some students like to search for artwork based on the tag, so it is a good 2nd option for choosing illustrations for a story.

Here are some problems I’ve run into in the past 4 months:

  • Students can choose art by tag or artist, but we haven’t found a way to combine artwork from 2 artists to create a story. 
  • Sometimes the site runs slow and I’ve had problems with computers freezing up as my students were in the process of saving their work. (I will say that the speed has been getting better.)
  • When creating a class the comments and discussions are automatically set to “on/open.” I learned this the hard way by finding my class chatting with each one another when they discovered how to create a discussion. It ended up being a teachable moment when I changed the settings to moderate and had a discussion about appropriate feedback and discussions online.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I am very happy with Storybird in my classroom! Publishing stories for students to have access to at home gives them a huge sense of pride in their creations. It is so great to see such a huge excitement about creative writing as our school prepares for our Young Author’s Fair that is coming up in May. I just decided that I would let the top 3 author’s of the month read their stories as I screencast them and upload their stories to YouTube. I will leave you with an example by my student Julia.

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Back to School with Glogster (Virtual Posters)

Back to School

After 1 year of an intense master’s program, I thought that I would take a nice long break from online classes, giving myself the chance to catch up with my normal life. Well… that lasted for a whole 3 months and now I’m back online, going for my Online and Blended Teacher Certification. It’s back to the same routines that I came to know so well:

  • Read
  • Complete assignment
  • Post discussion
  • Reply to 2+ discussions
  • Reflect

My Personal Learning Goal

Having ignited this new found passion for discovering new technology, I’m starting to get more and more interested in creating programs for professional development of teachers using technology. I’ve enjoyed training teachers about using LiveBinders and I would love to find a way to continue my career in that same path. I enjoy creating fun and innovative media assets. ScreenFlow, iMovie, and GarageBand have been my favorite tools to design and create teaching tutorials with. I look forward to learning more about tools and strategies that will help me understand how to efficiently reach learners in a blended teaching setting. Learning about new Web 2.0 tools sparks new ideas in me and I love trying out new things in my classroom. This week, my new Web 2.0 tool is Glogster.

Introductions via Glogster

PacadaVision

Our first assignment was to create a glog so that other students could get to know all about us. This assignment was a completely paperless and virtual way to create one of those About Me posters that so many teachers assign their students in the first week of school.

With all of the many video projects that I’ve gotten myself into, I had a hard time choosing the most important ones to go on my page. I may have gone a little crazy with the videos, stickers, Web links, and moving objects, but I came up with a page that reflects exactly where I am in my teaching career right now.

As I have been looking at other students’ glogs, it is very interesting to see different styles and ideas from each student in the class. This got me to thinking about creating student accounts for each of my 4th grade students and having them create a glog to be shared during Open House in May. The graphics and animations are so fun and eye-catching that I think my students will have a blast with it!

My New Web 2.0 Discovery – EdCanvas

After my December 12th graduation from the MS Education Media Design and Technology program, I had been taking a break from my blogs and my quest for new Web 2.0 tools. I don’t think there was one day out of the 341 days in the EMDT program that I didn’t spend doing hours of work on my MacBook Pro, so I think that it’s been a well deserved break that has helped me get caught up on correcting papers.

I just came off of a week’s break from school, so I finally felt ready to get back to searching and blogging about my new discoveries. Over the break I became very excited to stumble upon a technology company called Imagine K12. Upon research into the site, I discovered Edcanvas, a completely new way to create an educational canvas, putting together resources to present to a class.

Of course when I learn about something new, there’s no better way to learn than to get right in and test it out for myself! I actually discovered that it’s not only a great way to organize a unit to present, but it is also a great way to keep lesson plans, notes, and student activities that can be shared with other classes and teachers everywhere!

I took the 2 science units that I created presentations for in Prezi and I put it all together with learning links that I had on my class Webpage and notes outline sheets that I had in my DropBox. Here’s what I came up with and it took me less than an hour to put it all together.

Electricity & Magnetism Edcanvas

What I like about EdCanvas:

  1. EdCanvas seems to be great for organizing themes/units in a chronological order.
  2. I love that it’s compatible with DropBox and Google Drive! It makes uploading files easy from any computer.
    Adding Comments
  3. When you create lessons, you can easily add comments on the side. This allows you to share your thoughts and observations about what works well when teaching a lesson or using a particular resource.
  4. It’s a great way to store and share lesson plans! 
  5. It is compatible with Prezi. Originally, I tried creating an Electricity LiveBinder with these same Prezi links, but unfortunately, my presentations were not easily viewable within the LiveBinder. (Don’t get me wrong, I love LiveBinders!)
  6. It’s a great way to search for lesson plans put together by teachers with a love and passion for education and technology.
  7. Finding fun and innovative lesson plans inspires me to create more and try new and different things in my own classroom.

Room for improvement

This site is still new to me, so I know I have more to explore and discover. I did, however, find that I’m not sure that I like EdCanvas as a way to store a set of resource links. I tried creating a sample Math Learning Sites EdCanvas with a few links to Websites that I use with my class. When I go to play it, it goes straight to the 1st math Website and I can’t continue to view the other sites in the Canvas. Even if it did play correctly, I still like organizing my resources into LiveBinders. The tabs and sub-tabs of a binder makes it easier to navigate through a bunch of links that don’t need to be viewed in any particular order.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I’m happy with my new discovery and I plan on playing around with this new Web 2.0 tool. I can see this as an extremely powerful teaching tool if several teachers in a school district were to collaborate in uploading various lessons that could be shared among their grade level. As California is moving into the Common Core Standards, wouldn’t it be amazing if each teacher could come up with just 1 EdCanvas that included plenty of opportunities for students to build background knowledge and jump right into a lesson? More collaborating and sharing  across schools in a district could lighten the load on everyone as we take on a new set of standards and teach a different way of thinking to our students.

LiveBinders for Blog Resources

BP6… Take 2!!

Click for a link to: http://www.livebinders.com

Okay, here’s my second attempt to post BP6.  This time I will be blogging about using LiveBinders in order to share resources about blogs with my students.  In this post, you will learn about how LiveBinders can be a great teaching resource for teachers, parents, & students.  I will also reflect on the LiveBinder that I created for my students to use as a resource to help them get started on creating their own blogs.

What is LiveBinders?

For those of you who haven’t heard about LiveBinders, it’s a free site (unless you need to upgrade for extra memory & storage space) that allows you to keep and share organized virtual binders.

Get started by searching through created LiveBinders.

If you’re not sure how to get stared with LiveBinders, I recommend that you begin by doing a search through Featured Binders.  There you will find popular LiveBinders that can inspire you to start creating your own.  If there is a specific topic, grade level, or subject that you are interested in, there is a search box for you to type in key words.

Once you’ve gotten the idea of how to use LiveBinders, you’re ready to start creating your own!

Who can you share LiveBinders with & what do can you include in them?

  • Teachers/Colleagues
    • Share lesson plans
    • Resources for grade level subjects/reports
    • Worksheets
    • Teaching links
  • Parents & Students
    • Directions, resources, & links for reports
    • Homework help resources
    • Flickr Images
    • Links to helpful resources
      • Math fact practice
      • Writing prompts
      • Educational Videos
      • Class/school webpage

    Click for a link to my LiveBinder

(Files that can be uploaded to LiveBinders:  .pdf, .jpg, .gif, .ppt, .doc, .txt, and .mov )

To help explain, here’s a link to my Kidbolg Resources Livebinder.

After you start looking through LiveBinders, you will notice that you can create tabs and sub-tabs.  This feature is a great way to keep all of your resources and information organized and easy to locate.

Options for your LiveBinder:

  • Set your binder to private/public
  • Create a pass code if you set your binder to private
  • Share your binder via: e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google +1, & Plurk
  • Add names of other LiveBinder users to allow them to collaborate & edit your binder

Reflection about my Kidblog Resources Livebinder:

I think that this LiveBinder is going to be a great resource for my students to use as they are starting to post their own blogs on Kidblog.org.  I plan on putting a link to this resource on my new class webpage.  Since most of my students are used to looking up images from Google, I felt that it was really important that this LiveBinder included places that they can go to for copyright compliant images.  For most of them, this is the first year that they are learning that it is not okay to use any image that they find on the internet.

The other thing that I like about my binder is that I have links to things like: blog topic ideas & the BrainPop page about blogs.  Since my students will have watched the BrainPop video in class, having the link in my LiveBinder will be a familiar resource for that they will be comfortable watching and learning from on their own.

This is a sample of the image that will pop-up when you click the button "LiveBinder it".

As I work more and more with the LiveBinders site, I am very impressed with its capabilities.  When you set up an account, it will recommend that you add the LiveBinder It link onto your Internet browser’s Bookmarks Bar.  This makes it especially easy to add any link to a binder that you’ve created. So, any time I come across a great site about blogs, all I have to do is click the button LiveBinder It, and once I select my Kidblog Resources binder, I can automatically add the link as either a tab, or a sub-tab.  This makes expanding the binder as easy as a few clicks of a button!

I recommend that you go and explore the LiveBinder site & you just might be inspired to create your own.

BrainPop Teaches about Blogs

Are you looking for fun and engaging lessons that your students will love?  Well, look no further because BrainPop has created an educational site full of entertaining videos with content in the subject areas: Art & Music, English, Health, Math, Science, Social Studies, & Technology.

BrainPop Educator

If you’re a teacher, you can register for a free BrainPop Educator account. With this account, you will have access to the BrainPop Educator’s Blog, and Lesson Plans created by teachers, for teachers.  Unfortunately, if you wish to have access to all of the amazing videos that the site has to offer, you will need to get a subscription & I will tell you more about that later.  They do offer a free trial that you can sign up for.  I haven’t signed up yet, so I’m not quite sure how long the free trial is.

Features of BrainPop Educator

  • Access to Educator’s Blog
  • Access to Lesson Plans
    • Search by subject and grade
    • Search standards by state, subject, and grade (I love this feature!)
  • Free webinars and tutorials available to watch
  • Resources, planning tools, and ideas for integration available
  • Information about upcoming conferences and BrainPop news

The other option would be for you to look through their “free stuff” page.  There you can find videos and lessons in all of the different content areas.  This page will give you a glimpse of the amazing learning that can be happening in your classroom.

Watch my YouTube video as I navigate my way through a free BrainPop lesson on blogs.  This is a lesson that I will use with my class as an introduction lesson about blogging.  Once they have all of the essential information, they will be ready to start writing their own blog posts.

Freebies:

Cost

  • Some free content available
  • Free educator account (as mentioned above)
  • There are 1-5 year subscriptions for all of their different resources: BrainPop, BrainPop Jr. (K-3), BrainPop Espanol, & BrainPop ESL
  • Combo Packs are available if you would like to have access to more than 1 resource
  • Pricing varies for: school, district, media lab, classroom, public library, homeschool, family, and virtual classroom (check out the subscription page)
  • Classroom subscription for 1 year of BrainPop is $195
  • Classroom subscription for 1 year of BrainPop Jr. is $135
  • Classroom BrainPop & BrainPop Jr. 1 year subscription is $275
  • Classroom BrainPop ESL 1 year subscription is $115
  • Classroom BrainPop Espanol 1 year subscription is $150

Final Thoughts

I was so impressed with the organization of all of the content material within this site.  All of the BrainPop videos that I’ve watched (about 8 of them) have been interesting and engaging.  The quiz at the end of each video really get me to pay attention because I always want the robot character Moby to give me a beep for the correct answer.  I am seriously thinking about subscribing to BrainPop next school year.  I know that the creativity that is involved with this site can bring out great work from my students.  I already have a few students who watch BrainPop videos on their iPads & I know that they absolutely love it.  I hope that you find this site as fun and helpful as I do.

Khan Academy

Do you have students in your class who feel like the work is either too easy, or too hard? Have you ever felt like your students could benefit from being on an individualized learning plan?  Khan Academy has made that a possibility with its unique and motivating math practice site.
Math Practice Features
  • Suitable for anyone: from kindergarteners, to college students, to life-long learners
  • Math concepts from the basics of number lines, addition, and subtraction, to the complexities of calculus and systems of equations
  • Content follows a logical mathematical flow that is organized and somewhat easy to navigate around
  • Users sign-in to save progress and reward badges
  • Users earn points and achieve badges for Awesome Streaks, Persistence, Good Habits, Making Progress, and MORE!
  • Instant feedback for answers
  • When a user gets stuck, help videos and step-by-step procedures are available for extra guidance & support
  • Users show mastery of a concept by completing 10 correct answers in a row
  • Coaches (teachers) can manage students and track their progress
    • See problems students get right and wrong
    • See how long a student spends on each problem & when they need extra help from hints & videos
  • Absolutely FREE with no pop-up ads!
Background Information about Khan Academy
Salman Khan is the founder of this site and it started out in 2004 when he began uploading math tutoring videos for his cousins on YouTube.  When his videos started going viral, it caught the attention of many, including Bill Gates, who helps with the financial backing of this non-profit educational organization.  Since then, his tutoring video library has grown to over 3,000 videos in subject areas that include: math,history, medicine, economics, a variety of sciences, civics, and much more.  My dad, a middle school math teacher, is the one who first told me about this amazing, education changing website and you can read more on Khan Academy’s About page or on Wikipedia.
Video Features
  • 3,000+ videos
  • Many cover multiple ways  to learn and understand a concept

Final Thoughts

I am so excited about using this site as an extension of learning for all of my students who are looking for extra math practice at home.  I also plan on using this site with some of my students who are struggling with basic concepts of math.  Since I’m teaching 4th grade and my students are learning about fractions and decimals, I feel like I’ve gotten to the point where moving on with some of them is becoming too difficult.  With Khan Academy, instead  of moving on with those students, I plan on putting them on my classroom computers to use Khan Academy as an individualized learning experience.  These students will be motivated by points and badges as they practice and master the basics of math in order to move on and build confidence.  The one downfall is that in order to sign-in and save progress, my students will need a Gmail account.  I know that some of my students have one, but for those who don’t, I will be contacting parents to see if they can help their child set up an account that will allow them to use this powerful learning tool.

JamStudio

Ben did an amazing job as he reviewed JamStudio from a music teacher’s perspective, covering everything from cost, to usability, to reliability, and audience.  Even though he says it may not be useful for K-5 students, I’ve commented on how I can see myself using it in my 4th grade classroom.  I have some musically talented students in my class who would really thrive with the use of JamStudio.  Click on the picture to check out my comment & his review!