Beth Holland

Food for thought…

A Little Birdie Made Me Do It…

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What could have 12-year old boys fighting to write poetry?


Several weeks ago, I read Rick Byrne’s blog post about Storybird. In it, he mentions that if Larry Ferlazzo and Kevin Hodgson liked it, then it was worth checking out. Well, if Rick thinks it is an effective tool, then I had to know about it, too. If you’ve never seen Storybird, and you have any interest in writing – or reading illustrated works – then you have to take a look. With a free login, you can create your own stories and integrate artists’ illustrations.

After looking at it, I had one of those this is great, now what do I do with it? moments. First, I showed it to the first grade teacher and asked if we could do a buddy project where maybe a middle school student typed a younger student’s story. Not sure if that will work or not. Then, I demonstrated it for our two 6th grade English teachers. They both had the same reaction: this is fabulous, now when do we use it?

On Monday, one of the English teachers grabbed me in the hall and asked if Storybird could be used for poetry. She showed me what the students had already created, and then asked if it could work. Suddenly, we had a plan in motion. Tuesday, during class, she reviewed the concept of illustration and asked the students to think about how it works when an author collaborates with an illustrator. I then demonstrated how the students could set up their own accounts on Storybird for homework. By 1:00 on Tuesday afternoon, half of the students had come to the lab to set up their accounts. (The one boy who did not have an email address used mine.) During Wednesday’s English class, the students picked their illustrators and started integrating their poems into their Storybirds. For the rest of the day, at any free time they had, students came running to the lab to continue their work.

Here’s where it gets even more interesting… Not only are the students working on their assignments, several boys have continued to create their own poems and stories. They are also commenting on each others and cheering each other on (I know this because I get emailed all of the comments for the one boy who used my address). In fact, that boy’s younger brother has also created an account so that he can read and share. I don’t know how long this new enthusiasm for writing will last; however, as educators, we should do whatever we can to prolong it. Amazing what a little technology can do!

Author: brholland

EdD Student, Writer, Speaker, Consultant

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