Wednesday, 26 August 2015

A Class with Storybird

It's been quite a while since I held a class where my students presented their stories created using Storybird. Finally, I got round to sharing this remarkable experience. First off, I'd like to outline some advantages that using Storybird brings in your classroom:

  • storytelling becomes shared experience (students are genuinely interested in the stories created by their peers and gladly respond and give feedback)
  • Storybird tools help unleash creativity (looking at how diverse the students' stories may get, what pictures they choose to illustrate their stories delivers a powerful message that once given what to do and means to do it without restraining them on how they should do it students demonstrate outstanding results)
  • presenting a story can be a special experience (I held my Storybird class in a different room where we had a projector to have everyone better see the stories and illustrations of one another. Having to read the story to their peers gave many students a chance to be proud of their creations and choose the best way to present them)
One of my students presenting her story The Cat That Believed

In order to track the progress of your students, it is a good idea to create a class and ask students to join it. This is what I did too. In Storybird, you can comment on others' stories, which is a great way to give feedback. Initially, I was planning to ask students to leave comments in Storybird while their peers were presenting. Unfortunately, the Internet connection wasn't so good to allow this. Therefore, I asked them to write their comments on separate sheets of paper. Later, I took pictures of those and uploaded them in a social network they all use.

If I had to give advice on how to hold a Storybird class like mine, I'd offer the following tips:

  • create a Storybird classroom to keep track of your students' progress and easily find them on the list during a class
  • make sure there's a good Internet connection (it sounds too trivial but once it's not there the whole idea might fail)
  • encourage students to ask questions and provide feedback for their peers
One of the papers with feedback

 It's likely that initially students won't feel enthusiastic about having to use a new tool like Storybird to create their stories. This was my case. Some students would ask, 'Why can't we do this on paper?' and similar questions. However, after they had created and presented their stories, their attitude changed dramatically and they kept asking me to do this again. Therefore, do not get discouraged by lack of enthusiasm in your students. Once they see what they are capable of, they will develop a different perspective on this kind of tasks. Why rob them of such an opportunity?