Saturday, January 22, 2011

Storybird - Digital Storytelling

This article originally appeared in School Library Journal's enewsletter SLJTeen.
Christopher Bell
December 15, 2010

121510storybird(Original Import)Rarely do I come across a tech tool that's great for younger students as well as older ones. Well, here's one you need to about: Storybird, an online collaborative storytelling tool, just knocked my socks off! And the best part about it is that kids really enjoy Storybird and it can be meshed into nearly any curriculum.

But don't just take my word for it. Go to its website and follow the step-by-step instructions. You can start with a single click of a button. Then, select the artwork you wish to use to tell your story. The artwork is phenomenal and includes some works by professional illustrators. To help get you inspired, take a close look at the various images you can incorporate into your story. Once you've settled on a set of images, simply click "Start a Storybird." Type in the title and your name (for safety purposes, students are encouraged to use a pen name or just their first name), and you're on your way. From this point, students can tell a story, write a story, type the story, or create a group story. My one complaint was that it was difficult to get my story to print. However, when I tried this with a group of fourth graders (letting every student have a single slide), I used an interactive white board to capture their story and it was easy to print.

While most of the artwork is aimed at younger kids, Storybird conducts competitions that push students to be creative. Allowing them to create their own presentations will be a welcome change for you and your students. I shared Storybird with my friend who is a Spanish teacher who found it to be a fantastic tool for students to practice writing and practice speaking in Spanish.

Finally, students can share their work by simply creating an account. All they need is an email address. Another fun feature is Storybird's link to Twitter. Students can connect with each other and become online art critics!

Storybird is so easy to use that anyone can make this work for their class. Just show it to your kids and see what they come up with—you'll be amazed.

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