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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Week 3 Comment 2: Niki

Niki’s Original Post: Week 3 Reading: Art of Possibilities

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2012

It’s amazing but the quote, “When the student is ready the teacher will appear” still holds true. This book is really speaking to me. Chapter 5 had the most impact on me. I was reminded of my own situation when Georgina explains in the letter to Zander about the seating arrangements. Her negative situation was turned into a positive one. It is so hard to see anything positive when going through a storm.  I know that’s how I felt last year when the changes occurred in my workplace. I had to choose between training and management. I had run the program for several years and trained users from all over the world. Even though I’d received awards and praises for the training program, the project manager decided to create a different model. I felt hurt and conflicted. I was totally taken by surprise and became angry and resentful. My students and the relationships that I’d built with them was my only joy. The situation confirmed my love for training. It was clear to me that I wanted to teach more than manage.Once that decision was firm in my soul I decided enroll in the EMDT program. I wanted to make an investment in myself. I was not my job and didn’t want it to define me as a person. I do miss having a voice in my current position on matters that are important to me. It has be an awesome journey reinventing myself to have a different voice. I’ve created a dream or goal book with ideas I’d like to pursue after graduation. I came to realize, just like Georgina did about her position in the orchestra that I have a voice that can make a difference. I am excited and can’t wait to use it to continue me journey. I am open to all the possibilitiesthe world has to offer me and all I can give back.
Posted by at 9:14 AM

My Response to Niki:

The quote that you picked out has so much meaning to it, and it applies to all of us who made the decision to choose to enroll in this EMDT master’s program. I think that it’s so great that you’ve created a dream/goal book and that you are using the EMDT program as a way to explore new possibilities. I would love to pick your brain about making the transition out of the classroom. Even though you are not a classroom teacher anymore, it sounds like teaching and education is still your life’s calling, and you have so much more left to give. I feel like I’m going through a similar situation, but I’m still in the classroom, suck on the fence. Do I try and make the most of my current position teaching 4th grade, or is there something else out there in the education and technology field where I can thrive and continue to grow? Was it easy for you to make that decision?