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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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New Teacher Boot Camp Week 3 - Using Storybird

Editor's note: See the full archive of the five-week boot camp.

Week 3: Using StoryBird in the Classroom

Welcome to New Teacher Boot Camp! Today we're going to be exploring StoryBird.

What is Storybird?

Storybirds are short, art-inspired stories you make to share, read, and print. It is a fun, collaborative, storytelling website.

Storybird was designed to allow children to work with parents and friends in creating art-inspired stories to share and save. It is also now a very popular tool to for use by teachers with their students around the globe. Users choose from art hosted on the site and build a story around those images that can then be shared with family and friends. Storybird encourages creativity and is a web tool that supports working collaboratively.

The final product can be printed, watched on screen, or shared in an online library with the world. You also have the option to keep it private on the network.

Introducing Stephen Davis, Middle School English

Stephen Davis is a Middle School English teacher in Cypress, California. He is also one of two wonderful educators sharing resources this week, and his experiences using StoryBird in the classroom make him an excellent resource for showing the benefits of using the tool to aide in teaching.

Stephen Davis on How He Uses Storybird

Here is an example from my eighth grade class based in Cypress, California.

Storybird can help students bring abstract thoughts in their mind to life and adds a dynamic, digital component to traditional storyboards.

Without requiring any artistic ability, students drag and drop characters and images onto a digital storyboard. Students are inspired by the themes and artwork available on Storybird: abstract thoughts and emotions students could not express easily come to the surface.

A concrete visual representation of their abstract thoughts can now be transformed into wonderful writing. Students can use the finished Storybird to write a paper that expands their abstract thoughts into a traditional essay.

Destinee, a student in my class, created a Storybird prior to writing part of her essay. Then, Destinee's Storybird became a portion of an essay that she wrote. In this way, students in my class can choose which piece, the Storybird or the formal essay, they want to be given a formal grade. Students now have experience writing formal essays and expressing themselves in a relevant, meaningful manner.

Introducing Aviva Dunsinger, First/Second Grade

Here is an example of a Storybird from my first and second grade class in Ancaster, Ontario.

This year I used Storybird as a way for students to apply what they learned about story elements by creating their own stories on themes that interested them.

Sometimes the students wrote these stories independently, and sometimes they worked in partners to write them. In the example shown above, one group of students started the story during literacy centres, and then the next day, the students read what the first group wrote, and added to it. This became a miniature class version of the Progressive Story Project. Students loved seeing how the story that they started would end. This not only became a great writing opportunity, but a great reading one as well!

We also used Storybird during math centres. Students created small group Storybirds on time and three-dimensional solids: two topics that they learned about in math. Storybird was a great way to make literacy a part of all subject areas. With a tool such as Storybird, students were encouraged to not just focus on conventions, but also develop interesting ideas in their writing. Creating these digital storybooks also made my grade 1 and 2 students feel like real writers, increasing their interest in writing!

Thanks to Aviva and Stephen for these great StoryBird ideas as we begin to explore the use of this awesome tool!

Storybird Tutorials

Here is a list of resources of different ways to use Storybird.

Assignment 1: Create your own Storybird

  1. Create a Storybird account. If you will be using this with students, use their free Class Accounts to manage students without emails, create assignments, and build beautiful libraries.
  2. Click sign in at the StoryBird site
  3. Customize your avatar
  4. Brush up on our community guidelines on StoryBird
  5. Make (create) a Storybird!
  6. Read some Storybirds done by others
  7. See all the things you can do with your stories!

Assignment 2: Post your Storybird to the wiki

  1. Go to http://storybird.com/
  2. Sign in to your account
  3. Click on your published Storybird
  4. Click on the blue type that says "Embed and badges"
  5. Copy the Storybird code for the "Regular Size Code"
  6. Go to your page on the wiki
  7. Click "Edit Page"
  8. Click on the Widget (embed widget) in the tool bar on your page
  9. In this widget menu click "Other (other html)"
  10. Paste your Storybird code in the html box on this page
  11. Click Save and a widget will now be on your page
  12. Click Save again and your Storybird will now appear on your page!

More Useful Links for Storybird ideas

As you are starting to get excited about ways to use Storybird, here is another great suggestion on how to use it with students in the classroom.

About Stephen Davis

I'm a Middle School english teacher at Lexington Junior High School in Cypress, California. I continually strive to challenge myself, absorbing new theories and best practices that wash up on shore, while letting those things that matter least go back out with the tide. You can find me at Rush the Iceberg and on Twitter @rushtheiceberg.


About Aviva Dunsinger

I teach grade 1 and 2 at Ancaster Meadow School in Ancaster, Ontario. I love to find new ways to integrate technology into the classroom to help students learn and to help them have more control over their learning. You can find all of my blog links through my class website and you can also find me on Twitter as @grade1.


Comments (26)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

aschordine's picture
aschordine
pre-service elementary teacher

So I too am unable to embed my storybird even though it is published, listed as public and I even set my default to public. Maybe it needs to be approved by storybird first since I also received that message after I published it. Anyway, here is the link to my published storybird http://storybird.com/books/dream-big-452/
and the link to my wikispaces portfolio
http://edutopia-ntbootcamp.wikispaces.com/Alicia+Schordine
I really love this tool, mostly for the fantastic art and the amazingly talented illustrators who share their work with the public in such a creative, collaborative way. I can think of many ways in which I will incorporate this tool into my classroom.

Brandi McRoberts's picture
Brandi McRoberts
Preservice Teacher - Student Teaching Fall of 2011

After waiting to see if the "embed and badges" button would appear on my Storybird for 24 hours, I found a way to post it to my wiki without it. I captured the image of my Storybird using Jing and then added it as a file to my wiki page. I added a caption and to the right of "add caption," I clicked on "add link" and pasted the url for my Storybird there. Hopefully this helps those of you who still cannot see "embed and badges" even after making your Storybird and default settings public. Now you can click on my Storybird on my wiki! http://edutopia-ntbootcamp.wikispaces.com/Portfolio+for+Brandi+McRoberts
As I posted before, I would like to incorporate the use of Storybird for collaborative writings and to get parents involved.

Rhonda Jessen's picture
Rhonda Jessen
Curriculum Manager, Career and Technology Foundations, Alberta Education

I found Storybird easy to use, and easy to embed in an HTML page. It would be fantastic if students could upload their own images or export the finished book as a stand-alone file like a flash presentation; but I understand that that is not the goal of the software.

I heard that Storybird is created by Canadians, which makes me happy because I am always happy to demonstrate Canadian success stories in my (Canadian) classroom.

I created a storybird to use as an example as part of a graphic design project for grade 9 computer students and am going to encourage them to use it themselves. It was easy to embed into Moodle.

You can see my Storybird on my portfolio page Rhonda Jessen

Rhonda Jessen's picture
Rhonda Jessen
Curriculum Manager, Career and Technology Foundations, Alberta Education

How about having students use it to create a short tutorial of a concept that they found hard and now know how to do, or summarize what they have learned as part of a unit?

That's how I plan to use it in my junior high computer class.

Suzanne Sallee's picture
Suzanne Sallee
Educational Technology Coach, Creighton School District

Hello everyone. I too am having some problems getting the embed code for my Storybird but will continue trying (I do have it set as public). Here is the URL to my story:http://storybird.com/books/summer-on-the-farm/

It is about my own experience visiting my grandfather's farm one summer.

Someone else mentioned it would be nice if students could include their own drawings/pictures, as student can with Little Bird Tales (http://littlebirdtales.com/) or Storyjumper (http://www.storyjumper.com/).

I do like having the ablity to embed the stories into a teacher webpage or blog so they can be easily shared between students and with parents.

Ron Weaver's picture

I published my storybird, but i cannot see the embed and badges in blue type anywhere. what do I do?

Ellen's picture

I love Storybird and so did the Grades 1 and 2 students I introduced it to last year. A big question I had from some, but not all, teachers I work with as we try to integrate this into the classroom and center work, is that they object to some of the images. I agree that some are a little over the top but in an artsy type of way. I just direct kids to a different choice. How do the rest of you deal with this? Thank you.

Rachel Cline's picture

I love storybird. I learned about this last year in my grad school class and tried it out in my classroom by integrating it into my 6th grade science class. We had just learned about motion, and the students had to create a story dealing with motion. It could be about anything as long as 3 or 4 of their vocab words and definitions were included in the story. The kids came up with some very creative stories! They enjoyed it! Thanks for reminding me of this!

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