Posted by: Kathy Cassidy | April 26, 2010

If You Give a Child a Tool…

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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Responses

  1. Thanks for sharing this! I am looking forward to trying this with my students.

  2. Hi Kathy,

    Thanks for the kind words about Storybird and the post. Thought I’d mention that a) yes, all publicly-shared SBs are moderated and have social sharing turned off while they’re in the queue, and b) we do a lousy job of explaining this. That’ll be fixed soon.

    The new teacher accounts that we’re launching shortly create an automatic class library so that you and the kids have a “place” for all your stories. You’ll still be able to embed stories on other destinations (like your wiki or blog) and we’ll still moderate those, but the class library gives you and the kids instant gratification in having your stuff immediately accessible.

    Cheers.

    m.

  3. Thanks for responding, Mark. I’ll look forward to those changes! Storybird is a great digital storytelling resource.

  4. I’m planning to use Storybird tomorrow with some kindergartners and first graders. I’m excited to try it out.

  5. Der Kathy, thank you very much to you and your students. They are great. We will use the books that your students are producing to start a project of learning English through reading simple books, because my children are learning English as a foreign language. They will use tools like “read my words” for listening to the pronunciation of your books and Google transaltor for the meaning. This will increase their authonomy in learning and also motivation. Thank you very much, we need simple books:-))

    • Wow. That sounds super. My students will be excited to learn that their books will be used for helping students learn English. Thank you for sharing that.

  6. […] @kathycassidy showed me the incredible things that Grade 1’s can do on Storybird through her blog post, and I plan on sharing her student examples to encourage my students to do their best work too. I […]

  7. […] #3: What if you give a child a tool…? – First grade teacher Kathy Cassidy makes visible (and accessible) what students as producers […]

  8. Thank you once again for a useful tool that kids really seem to enjoy. I like hearing about things that interest the kids, and keep them engaged.

  9. After reading your post I checked out Storybird and it seems like a wonderful application. I love the fact that they would not publish the story with the word “killed” in it. I can’t wait to give it a try. Thank you for sharing all of the wonderful things that you are doing in your classroom.


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