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Dive into the world of digital storytelling and unleash the creative potential in your students. Let's check five top web 2.0 sites and go step-by-step through a sample project. (These sites are best for students in grades 3-8.)

Kerpoof

Kerpoof is definitely one of the coolest, creative websites for younger students and works great for a host of projects. For digital storytelling, try the Make a Picture module with young elementary students. Older elementary and middle school students will have a blast with the Make a Movie or Tell a Story modules. Make sure you sign up for a teacher account to register your students and manage accounts.

Mixbook

Mixbook is an all-time favorite tool for digital storytelling. The concept it simple and powerful--create a digital photo album. But, it's much more. Students add images, graphics and text to create their own story. The result is a virtual, flipping book that works great on an interactive whiteboard. Check out this excellent example to inspire your next project.

GoAnimate

GoAnimate is an absolute blast for digital storytelling and is great for older students up through high school. With cool graphics and fun character interactions, you create stories scene-by-scene, similar to a comic book. The characters will even speak the text in speech bubbles with several available voices. Depending on the type of account, there can be a cost involved. Make sure you use the "try before you buy" option to see if it's the right tool for your project.

Stupeflix

Stupeflix is great tool for blending images, audio and text into engaging video productions. You can even add Google maps and text-to-speech. The site is easy to use and the production quality of the final product is amazing. Use this tool with older students and get ready for some awesome projects.

Storybird

Storybird is another great choice for younger students. This wonderful site allows students to select a piece of art and use it as a springboard to creating a story. Let's go step-by-step and create a Storybird project to celebrate Fall.

  1. First, you need to create a teacher account. Click Sign up and then select Teacher/Class as the account type.
  2. Fill in the rest of the information including your school name and a unique name for your class.
  3. Then, click Create your account.
  4. Once you have an account, you need to add your students. Being able to create and manage student accounts is a powerful feature. Choose the Classes tab in the top navigation bar, select Students and click Start adding students.
  5. Add your students one by one until every student has an account. If you need to manage student accounts, the Students area is the place to do it.

Let's create an assignment. When you create an assignment, you're asked to either add a URL of an existing Storybird or upload an image to inspire your students.

  1. Choose the Read tab and browse to find a sample Storybird. Browse until you find the perfect story and copy the URL to the Storybird. For this assignment, search for "Fall" in the search menu and you'll find delightful stories like this: http://storybird.com/books/fall-88/
  2. Now that you have a Storybird URL ready, navigate back to Classes > Assignments; click Create an assignment.
  3. Complete the assignment form, including pasting the sample Storybird URL you found earlier, and click Save Assignment. Your assignment appears in the Class > Assignments area for you and your students.

The fun part is here! When your students login, send them to Class > Assignments and instruct them to click the assignment title. Give them time to explore the sample Storybird. They won't believe they get to create something so cool! After plenty of exploration time and discussion, students click Start a Storybird. Get ready for oohs and aahs as the students are presented with all sorts of amazing artwork to use for their story. Scroll down to Explore themes and click See more themes. Students choose the theme Fall, explore the artwork associated with that theme and select the artwork to use in the story. To save you time, here's a link to the Fall theme. Once the artwork is selected, click Start a Storybird. This is where the students actually create their story.

Here are the basics. The pages of the book display along the bottom and you can add or remove pages easily. The main window displays the current, selected page. You have five options for each page: text on top, right, bottom, or left or full screen image.

For example, drag an image from the gallery to the page. Drag the image all the way to the left to leave a text area on the right; drop it in the middle to fill the page with the image. Have students experiment with building pages and placing images before they start writing. 

Turn your students loose and let their creativity flow. They will absolutely love creating their Storybird and the room will be a hive of activity. When their masterpieces are complete, click Menu > Publish this Storybird. You will be able to access all of your students' stories from your account.

To cap off the project, connect your PC to a projector and have students present their stories to the class. Storybirds work great on an interactive whiteboard and students can even turn the virtual pages. They'll love it! In addition, make sure you send a link to the projects to your classroom parents.

This article first appeared on HP’s Teacher Experience Exchange web site.

 




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