A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend one of my monthly Literacy Across Content Areas inquiry group meetings. For those who have been playing along, you may remember me talking about this group back in November, December, and earlier this month (like I said, we meet once a month). At these meetings, I am able to share ideas with other teachers about how we are using literacy instruction in the classroom, and specifically ways we tie literacy into different content areas (math, social studies, and science, particularly). The folks from the Center for Education in Small Urban Communities (unfortunately abbreviated CESUC, which is why they usually just call it “The Center“) also share ideas with us.
One of the ideas shared at these most recent meeting was the use of Storybird.com to get students to write. The idea is quite innovative: teachers set up class accounts, and then set up individual accounts for each student. The students are able to browse through a vast collection of artwork that has been submitted by artists from all over. Using these images, they create their own stories. They can then publish the stories online to share with the rest of their class members (and teacher). Those within the class account can read the stories, comment on them, and “heart” the ones they like the most.
As has happened in the past, I didn’t actually present a lesson on how to use this site. Instead, I got my students logged on and they immediately began browsing, learning, and then writing without me telling them to do so! That alone is pretty awesome. I had hoped that each student would be able to complete at least one “storybird” by the end of our time in the computer lab but, alas, that did not happen. However, we did get ten stories by eight students written. I would share them here but you have to have an account with our class in order to do so. I will be inviting parents to join our class so that they can see what their children are writing, though!
One of my favourite comments from a student, upon learning what he could do on Storybird, was this one: “Hey, Mr. Valencic! This is like Facebook for kids!”
Yeah, I guess it is. They can create content and share it, but only with their friends. And it is totally safe, secure, and there is no personal information about any student anywhere. However, students can choose to make a storybird public if they so wish, and they can also have the stories downloaded to an eBook reader or printed (both for a cost, though). Another great aspect of this is that students can access Storybird from home or anywhere else with a computer and access to the Internet. (I just discovered that some have been doing this already!)
I hope to really connect the writing across content areas by having the students come up with specific stories, such as math problem stories, historical fiction, and personal narratives. And I think that some of my more reluctant writers will be more excited to write using the computers and the artwork that has been made available. I do wish the site had a spell check built into it, but we can work around that by having students switch seats and edit each others’ work, just like they would in the classroom! All in all, I think this is going to be a great addition to our classroom tools for writing, sharing, and celebrating!
This entry was posted on January 24, 2012 by Alex T. Valencic. It was filed under Fourth Grade and was tagged with Fourth Grade, Language Arts, Mathematics, Professional Development, Reading, Social Studies, Teachers' Secrets, Technology.