How can Storybird be used in the classroom?

17 Oct

A recent university assignment has required me to turn my mind to ways to use Storybird in the classroom.  Here is what I have come up with:

  • A picture is worth a thousand words: students select one piece of Storybird artwork and weave an entire narrative from the elements of that artwork (example).  The abridged picture book created on Storybird can then become the map for a longer piece of creative writing.
  • Storyboard making: a student selects a series of images from Storybird and uses them to map a narrative.
  • Storyboard swapping:  students work in pairs and each creates a sequence of images as noted above.  Students then swap, so that student A writes a story using the sequence created by student B, and student B writes a story using the sequence that was created by student A.
  • Re-presenting: each student/pair of students selects a narrative that they are familiar with (such as a picture book).  Students map that story offline, and then seek to re-present the key elements of the narrative using their own words and the artwork provided on Storybird (example).
  • Storytelling speed-dating: students are put into groups of 5 or 6.  Each student has a computer and each begins a new Storybird by selecting a piece of artwork for the first page.  Students are then  given a set amount of time (perhaps 5 minutes) to write a short description of what they see in the picture.  Encourage stronger students to think beyond what they see, and to delve deeper.  After that time expires, each student has 30 seconds to select a new image for the next page.  Students then move to the next seat and the exercise repeats.  After 5 or 10 rounds, have students read through and discuss the responses as a group.  As a group, students select three descriptions and are challenged to come up with a way to link them together as part of a narrative.  Story suggestions can then be shared with the class.
  • Thematically inspired composing: students create a Storybird that engages with a theme set for study (for example, power).
  • Writing for others: ask new year seven students to author a Storybird that they can read to the new kindergarten students at the local primary school.  For an added level of difficulty, allow the kindergarten students to put forward a list of suggested themes.
  • Introduction to an area of study: students search the Storybird artwork using a key word relevant to their area of study (for example, bravery, courage, power, belonging, family, heroes etc).  Students each select one artwork and create a Storybird which explains what the artwork suggests the definition of the key word/area of study ought to be.
  •  Collaborative composing: the class works together to create a Storybird that fits a particular theme or genre.  The class decides on the title together, and then each lesson a student adds a page until everyone has had a turn.  Once everyone has had a go, the story can be read cover to cover.  Students can then evaluate the effectiveness of the narrative and discuss whether or not the narrative trajectory was expected.
  • Getting into character: students select/are allocated a character in a text that is being studied.  Students must pretend that they are that character and create a Storybird which reflects the thoughts/ideas that would likely be running through the character’s head at a particular moment in the text.
  • Story prompts: teacher sets an assignment requiring students to engage with a particular artwork/artist, students use the assigned stimulus as inspiration for a picture book.  The narrative mapped on Storybird can later be developed into a longer piece of writing.
  • Character development: teacher assigns students a particular character (for example, a witch or a hero).  Students locate an image of the character and use it as the basis of developing a character profile and exploring a situation from that character’s perspective.
  • Beyond the walls of the classroom storytelling: teachers from different schools organise for their students to pair up, providing an opportunity for students to work collaboratively with students from outside their school.  Also an opportunity for English teachers to form relationships with LOTE teachers/teacher in other countries, allowing students to collaboratively create stories in which one student writes in English and the other in French/German or the like.  This would facilitate the building of cross-cultural relationships.

If you want to see what others have said about the use of Storybird in the classroom, check out the following blogs:

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