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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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.

Xtranormal

Click on the picture to check out my comment and Rita’s informative review of the Xtranormal website.  Not only did she cover all the basics of this web 2.0 tool, but she used the site itself to create her own engaging video of a teacher helping her new colleague by thoroughly explaining Xtranormal and how it can be used in the classroom.  It’s another great way to get students excited about writing!  I truly love how this web 2.0 tool can inspire creativity.