I decided to go ahead with an element project using Storybird.  Everything is working out fine so far.  The one day in the computer lab was spent completing the research portion of the sheet.  The majority of students finished the research and all were supposed to log into Storybird to validate/set-up their account.  They have two weeks to finish 5 pages of their Element Baby Book.  The limiting factor to student success here is getting them to complete the rest of the work outside of class.

There is a digital divide in my classes.  I have students with computers, internet, and smartphones with data plans.  I also have students that only have access to computers at school.  Part of what I’m trying to teach is the ability to plan out computer time.  As mentioned in a previous post: not using a computer is no longer an option.  Computer use is the expectation.  Every student is capable of finding a computer with the internet for an hour in the next few weeks, especially with Thanksgiving break coming up.  There is a specific group of students that don’t do homework to begin with AND don’t have easy access to an internet ready computer.  These are the hardest to get working on this type of work.  These are the students that learning how to get to computers is the most important though.
I have realized that students do need a thorough understanding of their element to complete the baby book using Storybird.  You have to use a theme and students that didn’t pay attention to actually researching and learning about there element had trouble choosing.  For instance, one student had sulfur but didn’t know that it smelled.  That one piece of information could have steered the student in the direction of a “smelling” theme.  Another student was researching a more uncommon metal (I don’t recall which) and noted it was used in gears, crank shafts, and moving mechanical parts.  The student chose a robot theme.  That is the understanding I like to see.