My wrist is throbbing from all this screen time, but it’s worth it. Digital Storytelling tools are actually part of track 1, and I’m pretty familiar with most of the tools presented. But there were two tools there that I’ve heard about but never used, so I decided to switch tracks for now.
The first tool I tried was Storify. I had a vague recollection of seeing references to it, but I didn’t know what it was. Basically, it seems to be a way to collect social media posts on a particular topic in one place. My first attempt was poor because my topic (libraries) was too broad. I decided to try again with much more specific topic, curling, and now I can see how this would be a useful tool in school. It would be great in a social studies class to record assorted reactions major world events. I also think it would be a great tool for compiling tweets and images from conferences. (I tried searching the hashtag #aasl14 but came up with nothing. I guess it was too long ago?) The biggest issue with school use is that twitter and Facebook are blocked in schools.
The second tool I tried was Storybird. I’ve heard rave reviews of this tool for a couple of years now. I tried it once before, but at a time when I only had a few minutes to explore it. (You may have started to gather that I have a short attention span. If something doesn’t grab me right away, chances are I’ll move on. Ditto if it takes more than a couple of minutes to get the gist of how something works. In that way, I’m much like the children I teach, which may or may not be a good thing.) Given that Storybird continues to get great reviews, I felt I owed it to my students to give it another chance.
I think there is more art available now than there was when I first looked at it. And creating a story was pretty intuitive this time. I’ve been using David Weisner’s wordless books with my first graders and having them collectively write a story to go with the illustrations. Once we complete this project, I think I’ll have them try Storybird. After successfully working as a group to tell a story with assigned illustrations, it will be interesting to see how they do when given the freedom to create independently with a broader choice of illustrations.
Finally, I want to tell you about an iPad app called Storykit that is another good digital storytelling tool. Kids as young as 1st grade can create their stories independently using drawing tools or photos they take themselves and, my favorite part, they can record themselves reading their story. After the story is complete, it can easily be shared via email (be sure the ipad is set up to send email) or posted to a webpage. Here’s an example of a class book I created in collaboration with a first grade teacher.
There is a plethora of digital storytelling tools available, which can be overwhelming, but the various tools lend themselves to different outcomes. Storybird wouldn’t be the tool of choice for an informative piece, and Storify wouldn’t work for a creative piece. Storykit allows the user to record their story and include personal illustrations for either creative or informative purposes. I think the key is to determine your purpose and then choose the right tool.