Storybird: Inspiring Young Writers

While I have known about Storybird for months now from Twitter, I finally was able to put it in the hands of my students.  And boy, did they run with it!

Storybird is a Web 2.0 tool that allows anyone to create an online storybook. 

First, you choose the artwork by choosing an artist.  There is a wide variety of styles and mediums as well as art that is both kid and adult friendly.

Next, you begin dragging pictures of your choice to the 'paper,' adding words and a cover.  As of now I don't see any page limit.  Some of my students already have 10 pages in their stories.

Storybird automatically saves your work every few minutes, even if you are not logged in.  In order to publish or come back to your story later, you need to create an account, but it is pretty simple and does not ask for a lot of information.

Storybird has been transformative for my students' writing.  We started writing stories on paper about a month or so ago, with the rough draft, editing and rewrite.  Their stories were well structured, but they had trouble starting off with an idea.  They also groaned every time they had to rewrite the same story with the editing changes.  They groaned even louder when I asked them to draw pictures.

Now, they can easily go back and edit their stories or add pages, I can go through and edit on the spot with them, and their inspiration comes from the wonderful artwork.  They can't wait to log in and get back to their stories.

As a lab teacher who sees around 500 students a week, I have to make things simple, so I created an account for each class.  Each class logs in with a universal account and then they put their name on their story cover to identify themselves as the author.  So far it has worked like a charm, and I have not had any problems with students working on stories other than their own.

Also, since the students know that they will get to read everyone's stories once they are published (I have been embedding them on our wiki as they are completed), they are also pretty good about 'peeking.'

What I also love about Storybird is the way it forces students to tie their words to their pictures.  It also forces them to use their imaginations to tie the images together to create a story.  In addition, the idea of writing for an authentic audience motivates them to take their time with their stories and it gives them a real reason write, aside from pleasing the teacher.  When I created podcast of some stories they wrote earlier in the month, they would sit and listen to/watch the stories over and over, exclaiming "I'm reading your story right now!" to each other.

As an avid writer and former art student, I am a firm believer in students learning how to illustrate their work.  However, I watched so many of my students get frustrated and struggle with illustrations that it took away from the writing process.

Today my 2nd graders published their first Storybird stories:

Friends by,ashley by Enrichment on Storybird

a sad dog by , tamir by Enrichment on Storybird

I look forward to using this tool with my 3rd graders to produce more in depth and involved stories.


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