We have a new guest blogger !!!!!
About me: My name is Susan Dreger and I’ve been teaching students of all ages for the past 23 years in Barcelona, Spain. I have a masters in Technology and TESOL and am an avid fan of using technology to enhance language learning. I can take most Web 2.0 tools and find a way to use them in the foreign language classroom!
Do you or your students have a story to tell? Do you like reading, writing, drawing or all of the above? Do you want to join one of the largest storytelling communities in the world?
If you are not yet familiar with STORYBIRD, it’s time to see what you’ve been missing! Storybird is a fantastic writing tool which allows you or your students to create beautifully illustrated stories using incredible artwork from artists around the world. Storybird allows you to make visual stories in seconds!
Last year I used Storybird with a group of 15-year old Spanish students who were not at all interested in writing in English. Let’s just say that it was the end of the year and they weren’t feeling very inspired to write in English. I took a chance by showing them Storybird as I knew that there was the possibility of them finding the task somewhat ‘childish’. Instead of presenting the task to them as a simple storywriting task, I told them that they should imagine writng a story for small children. I asked questions such as, “What do small kids worry about?”, “What do they like?”, “What are their fears?” or “What types of emotions do small children often show?”. Then I showed them some examples of Storybird and of the incredible selections of artwork that can be found for illustrating stories. Once they understood what Storybird was all about and they had the idea that their story would be created for young learners, I took them to the computers and away they went!
To my surprise they quickly chose an artist of their choice and began working on their stories. They were totally engaged in the activity and only stopped each time they needed help with vocabulary or sentence structure. Because of the fact that the stories were being written for young children, they were able to write most of them with minimal help from me, using very simple, commonly used vocabulary.
After the one-hour class was finished, most of them had produced some great stories. In fact, I don’t even care if all of their stories weren’t so great. My students had written in English, had fun doing it and had CREATED stories that they were proud of in less than an hour!
It was great to see the results and have them genuinely want to save their story and make sure that it didn’t get lost. In order to facilitate the task with the time limit we had, I saved all of their stories in my account and then they invited themselves as collaborators. I’ve seen that as a teacher you can set up classes and add the students beforehand but as I mentioned, this was a last minute attempt to find something that would interest them so I didn’t have time for that.
As an alternative to this activity, you could even write a collective story as a class using the projector and the big screen. In any case, I would definitely recommend this great tool, for all ages!
Here are a couple of examples of the stories they created:
Thank you Susan for accepting to be my guest blogger !!! Loved the idea of using Storybird. It is so much fun and creative.