Recently I introduced ‘Tech tool of the week’ in my classroom. The purpose of this is to provide my students with a greater knowledge of websites and apps that they can use to present, publish and share their work on. Each week we have one technology tool to focus. At the conclusion of the week, once this tool is mastered by the class, it is added to ‘Tools we know how to use…’.
Students learnt how to use Dropbox, Twitter, Tourwrist and QR reader throughout semester 1. This week our ‘Tech tool of the week’ was Storybird.
On Wednesday afternoon I ran a lesson which was split into three parts. Firstly I explicitly taught my class about the aspects of the tool, what it could do and how they could use it via the digital projector set up in my room. Next a few students modelled what they now knew about the tool. This was my favourite part of the lesson! It was great to see these students playing the teacher role, calling on other students and speaking with clear and confident voices. The final part involved students pairing up and creating a digital story using Storybird on the class laptops.
We are using one account, which is a teacher/class account. I have logged into this account on each one of our laptops. We spoke about responsible use of the program, students are aware as to why they are not to use names or addresses in their work. I also made it clear that nobody was to publish their story without me looking over it first. Luckily, I have a fantastic class and I can trust that they will follow this instruction. I also spoke to students about creating their own accounts at home. I explained that they needed to do this with their parents, not by themselves. However the only Storybird account that will be used at school is our teacher/class account.
On Thursday and Friday my class was in the process of publishing their Alphabet poems they had written earlier in the week. Of course many chose to use Storybird, and they did so with great confidence! They were happy to solve problems themselves, or with peers. Not one student came to me for anything other than to sign into our account or to look over their work before publishing. This gave me some of an indication that ‘Tech tool of the week’ was a great success!
Posters where we display ‘Tech tool of the week’ and ‘Tools we know how to use’.
Tara publishing her Alphabet poem using Storybird.
The homepage of our teacher/class account, displaying the front cover of our digital stories.
For unit 4 I decided to explore Storybird, a storytelling website that allows users to create their own stories using a range of themes and illustrations provided by the website.
Storybird does require a login. Firstly it asks you to select which account you would like to use, regular, teacher/ class or kid/ under 13. For a regular account you need to provide your email, gender and age. For a teacher/ class account you only need to provide an email and for a kid/ under 13 account a parents’ email is required plus the age of the child. All accounts are free.
The Terms of Service is quite lengthy, which can be a problem for users. Many users will not want to spend a large amount of time reading through the entire document and therefore may miss some important information in relation to their use of the website. However the Terms of Service of Storybird are quite basic and straightforward and the language used is simplistic. It explains that the user is responsible for their account, including confidentiality, keeping their password secure and not using the website for any illegal and unauthorised purposes etc. It also explains their intellectual property rights and the use of third parties.
I think this website is a fantastic website for learning! My students would absolutely love creating digital stories using illustrations created by ‘real’ artists. I would love to get my students publishing some of their stories from their Writers Notebook using this website. I would then add the link to our class blog so students are able to view these stories. However I don’t see Storybird being very useful for anything other than digital storytelling.
The use of Storybird would enhance what my students are already doing. They are used to using apps such as Eye Witness and TourWrist to inspire their writing, Storybird being of a similar nature. I believe that Storybird fits into Augmentation of the SAMR model. Students are moving from creating simple stories to having to use higher order thinking when matching images that are not theirs to their own writing. Students also have the ability to then publish their work on a global scale and comment on the work of other users of the website.
I was able to create a digital story using Storybird with ease. There was a range of art and colours available and I was able to type my story into the template. There was also an option to upgrade to ‘Premium’, which would unlock more colours, themes and art. I published my story and I was able to add a blurb and tags as well as choose whether I wanted my story to be private or public. I selected public and I am now awaiting moderation by the Storybird library. Hopefully you can find the story here…