Storybird Update

Earlier in the second quarter I decided to try using Storybird as a project for my students.  They had to make an element baby book using Storybird.  This was an attempt to find a replacement for earlier projects where I had students do research projects about an element that had outlived their usefulness (cd covers, Glogster).  As a result of this project I have requested a license for Storybird Pro+ ($99) next year through my district technology budget.

The biggest stumbling blocks for students were not knowing what a baby book is, not knowing enough about the element, and follow through with incomplete work (no surprise there).  I have plenty of examples after this year for next to solve the first problem, and I’ll bring in my daughter’s baby book.  That should be enough to get their creative minds working.  For the second road block I’m not quite sure what to do.  To choose a theme (the pictures) the students need to know something about the element.  I had a few great projects that took a different approach, but overall you need to have not only done the research but KNOW the element.  Basically, if you could meet the element as a person, what would it be like.  Front loading that part of the lesson may be a solution.

Student follow through with long term projects is a continual problem.  Online projects, I find, are more problematic because unlike an unfinished poster or diorama sitting in their room an online project is out-of-site, out-of-mind.  I may provide additional time in the computer lab to get students further.  I’d have to plan it out differently and two days seems long enough with one day for research and one day for Storybird.

The only issues I had were that early on using Storybird they updated the site which threw me off a bit and confused students initially.  We quickly got over it.  The improvements were worth the annoyance but the site has still has a few drawbacks including:  not being able to post grades for assignments, making the Publish button so unassuming, and not getting notification when students do publish.

Next quarter I’ll have them make a short story on simple machines.