Recently, I have had the pleasure of co-teaching in Donna MacKay’s Grade 5 classroom at Henry Janzen School.  Donna and I discussed different ways students could achieve some of the outcomes in the Compose and Create strand of the English Language Arts curriculum and she was willing to explore the use of technology in helping her students to achieve these outcomes. The tool we chose to use was Storybird (www.storybird.com) which allowed students to explore various collections of art and then use this art to create their own stories to share.

To introduce the concept of creating a story from pre-existing illustrations, we wrote class stories using the posters from the Literacy in Action resource.  I then shared a story I had written using Storybird. This was followed by the opportunity to work in a smaller group (led by one of the teachers) to create a story to share with the other group.

Grade 5 Donna Storybird
Finally, the students were prepared to write an individual story.  Donna had set up student accounts on Storybird prior to the start of the class.  Once we had all students logged on, they combined their interests and their creativity to compose some fantastic stories! Upon completion of the stories, the students paired up with students from Lis Boan’s Grade One class to read some of their stories and then assist the Grade One students as they composed their own stories using Storybird. The Grade Fives students were wonderful teachers as they helped the Grade One students publish their first stories!

Storybird Computer
By integrating the use of technology for this assignment, we noticed many incidental results. These were not asked for by the teachers but just occurred naturally:
  • Students were completely engaged in their writing and continued to create additional stories to share at home with their families.
  • Students collaborated, encouraged, and assisted each other during class time.
  • Students shared their stories and asked thoughtful questions to the authors of the stories.
  • Students wanted to share their stories with others outside of the classroom and also wanted to teach others how to write stories using this tool.

Click on the link below to read one of the many wonderful stories written by the Grade 5 students:

Millie's Story
http://storybird.com/books/millies-day/?token=bt88mjhc97

There are numerous tools available to incorporate digital storytelling into your classroom through both laptop computers and iPads. I encourage you to integrate some of these tools to both engage students and allow students to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways.