Storybird: Create Stories!

Welcome back! I am glad to see you are still with me on this adventure to discover new pedagogical tools to integrate technology into our teaching.

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In today’s blog post, we will learn more about Storybird (find the website here).

Storybird is a website where you can create stories. The Common Sense Graphite website mentions that kids act as authors, pairing their words with site-curated, licensed art, which I think is very accurate. There is a paid version and a free version, but the free version still allows you to do many things.

It is easy to get started on the website. First, you create an account. You can create an account as a teacher, a student, a professional writer or a professional artist. I created my account as a teacher and the second step was to create a classroom. In my Storybird classroom, I can invite students to the class, create assignments, and consult my students’ work. To add students to your class, you can either create a new account for them (no email needed) or give a code to students who already have an account to join my class.

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Here is how students create their stories:

  • They first look through the different collection of art;
  • They choose the art that goes with their story or that inspires them the most;
  • They have a blank page with all the pictures around the page;
  • They write their story and drag and drop the illustrations they want on their page;
  • They can save and publish their stories as well as invite collaborators (peers and/or teacher) to help them.

storybird Here are some pros and cons:

Pros:

  • Like the Common Sense Graphite website explains, there is a huge collection of curated art that provides kid-authors with distinct and inspiring illustrations;
  • Like the Tech Tutorials website argues, Storybird is an extremely engaging site that allows students to focus more on the content of their writing rather than drawing pictures (You can also find four different video tutorials on that website that will definitely help you use Storybird!);
  • That tool is great because it does not only allow students to create stories, but also to read other published stories;
  • Your students can buy copies of their work;
  • Like the Ed Tech for ESL website points out, there is a comments section where you can comment on your students’ work;
  • The EdLab website comments that all the pictures are high-quality, created by artists or professional children’s book illustrators.

Cons:

  • Students cannot upload their own illustrations;
  • To download the PDF version, you need the paid version.

That tool gives a lot of possibilities to ESL teachers. It is a great tool to promote writing and reading in the classroom. First of all, let’s talk more about the writing part of the tool. I think this tool is really motivational for students. They can see the final product of their work. I think they will put more effort into the writing process because they want a paper copy of their work at the end of the process and be proud of it. Moreover, students can be creative and write about things that interest them. They can use their imagination to invent any type of stories that they like. They can also share their work with the teacher, their parents, their classmates, anyone! Furthermore, teachers can give feedback to their students on what they wrote and improve their writing skills. As Randy Thomas, an Educational Technology Consultant, mentions it on his blog, the teacher can create an “assignment” for the students to complete.  He/she can “assign” a project of creating a book to a class and give a due date. It is an excellent writing exercise. Students can do the work in team, which becomes a good cooperative activity. When students write texts, they do not only practice their writing skills, but also their vocabulary. They will learn new words as well as their spelling. This tool can be adapted to all levels. The teacher can ask to advance students to write a longer story and to beginner students to write only a few sentences. Let’s move on to the reading part of that tool. Students can go and read other stories that have been published on the website. They can see other people’s work. They can find stories that interest them. There are a lot of stories about many different things. Students will find something that they like for sure. It changes the routine from of the usual reading period that they do. It is different than reading the same paper book that the library has. Students can share the books that they liked to read with their classmates. They can also do a report or a critic of those stories.

I think that Storybird can be used in the classroom in many different ways and to any levels. Teachers have to be creative and give their students a love for writing. Literacy skills like writing and reading are important competencies in the curriculum that students need to develop and be evaluated on. You can watch a video here that explains the many ways that Storybird has improved the literacy skills of the students.

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Thanks for reading this week’s blog post! See you next week with another one!

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