Last week, I announced that I will be presenting at the European Council of International Schools’ (ECIS) Technology conference. My presentation will be called Using Technology to Create Community. I will be sharing websites that can be used to create community and I have a special way I’d like to get all of the teachers in the “blogosphere” and beyond to truly show those at the conference what a global community can do for teachers and students. I’ll have more details on this February 27th. In the meantime, each week, I will be sharing with you all some of the websites I will be discussing in my presentation.
This week’s website is Storybird. Storybird is a way for students to make and create online storybooks. The website provides you with many art collections to choose from for your illustrations and with a template for students to write their stories on. Students can write on a topic of their choosing, or they can write on an assigned topic. My students have one assignment each week, and I assign it to them right through storybird. Their directions are inside our class’ section of the website and all of their stories are then grouped together.
When students finish, they can publish their stories, adding them to the wider Storybird community collection, and giving them a URL link that they can share with family and friends. Here’s how I use storybird to create community for my students:
1.) Students are encouraged to share their stories with their own family and friends, and links to their weekly stories are published in our e-newsletter. This allows parents to read not only their own children’s stories, but also the stories of other students in the class.
2.) My students are required to leave at least two comments each week on stories written by their classmates. In their comments, they are asked to leave a glow (something they liked a lot) and a grow (something they think their friend can improve upon). Not only does this build community by exposing students to each other’s ideas and asking them to build a dialogue with their classmates, but it also builds critical thinking skills as we regularly discuss what makes a quality, constructive criticism comment.
3.) I encourage my students to also read stories that were created by other students around the world by reading stories from the storybird gallery. They are also allowed to leave comments on these stories.
In addition to being community building, Storybird is also just a great way to get my kids excited about writing. It works for so many grade levels that I can’t see Storybird being anything but an improvement to each and every classroom. Oh yeah, the first 60 student accounts are free too!