Last November I blogged about the prospect of using Storybird in my classroom. This past week, I felt that my students were at the place that they could use the tool in an independent enough way to allow us to have a go at it, so away we went.
I briefly demonstrated how to add pictures and text to a story, and then let them try it. They loved it! All of them wrote a far longer story than they ever had before because they loved the pictures and wanted to make a story to go with them. There was not a chorus of “I’m done” at the end of 15 minutes as there often is in my classroom. Instead, they all spent several periods working on the same piece of writing. Their finished products look fabulous and they all felt like authors in a new way.
Here are some things that may help someone else using it for the first time:
- I had the students use my account. I felt uneasy saying that I was a “parent” of each of the students (one of the options on the site). So instead, I had each student use my account to make their story. By borrowing laptops from other classrooms, I had up to fifteen students using my account at once without difficulty.
- It takes about a day to get an embed code for a story. Once the students had completed their Storybirds, I chose to have them “published”, but I looked in vain for the embed code. This was rather frustrating, as I had chosen Storybird just because of this option. Finally, I gave up. A day later, I decided I had not looked hard enough and would try again. There it was, in plain view.
- The site checks for appropriate content. I know this because one of my student’s stories was not published. The reason given was that it contained the word “killed”. When I showed the student what had happened, he happily changed the story to be about all of the animals making friends instead.
There was a lot of excitement about the finished products. Three students, who were at home with chicken pox, made one with their parents at home and were desperate to get them published on their blog as well. It’s a great tool to have in my tool belt.