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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Digital Storytelling Highlights of Tools Used by Local Teachers

Digital storytelling is a wonderful academic strategy to enhance student inspired stories and get student’s that typically do not like to write another venue to participate in the lesson.

Main advice – always use a storyboard before taking kids to create their projects to the lab. This will keep them focused and from waiting valuable instruction time. One period should be enough time in any computer lab.

The resources I am about to share with you range from easiest to most complex. All items shown below and samples are from the educational or free versions. However, all can be learned in 10 minutes or less. Some of my favorite Digital Storytelling resources are as follows:

VocarooVocaroo.com is a wonderful tool that allows children to record their stories. It uses voice only and remains active for up to one year. Students get a URL that is a link and may be used on a webpage or in a PPT. It may also be embedded in a webpage.

CalameoCalameo.com is a great tool that works with PPT and other Microsoft files. The PPT is uploaded into Calameo and can then we read like a book. An example of Calameo from a 6th grade class - http://www.newpaltz.k12.ny.us/1563201114112624990/site/default.asp
This example also includes instructions that may be used as well.

Story Cove - http://www.storycove.com/classroom/ Online digital storytelling tool designed for education and it is free.

UDL – Book Builder - http://bookbuilder.cast.org/ . This is a Universal Design for Learning Digital Story maker took. A tutorial may be found at - http://www.slideshare.net/kbrooks/udl-technology-tools-for-support-webinar

VokiVoki.com is a great tool that students may create an avatar and tell a one minute story or even create a trailer for their Digital Story to get people to want to watch and read it. A tutorial for Voki may be viewed at http://www.slideshare.net/kbrooks/tutorial-for-voki-2834271

PhotoStory3 – This is an old Microsoft download that is free. Files are very large, but the program is easy to use. I have used it with 1st graders and have had grad students use it with Kindergarteners. A tutorial may be found at http://www.slideshare.net/kbrooks/photo-story-3-tutorial and the download may be safely obtained from http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/digitalphotography/PhotoStory/default.mspx

ZooburstZooburst.com is a great way to create 3D digital storybooks. This is a pretty new website, but very user friendly. It does not include voice in the free version, only the paid. A tutorial may be located at http://www.slideshare.net/kbrooks/zoo-burst-and-pop-up-books

PhotopeachPhotopeach.com is another great site to do a story – just upload the pictures, place the type and then add music and you are set. You can even do multiple choice with this webpage. Great for younger grades. A sample http://photopeach.com/album/17jnx4i

StorybirdStorybird.com is another great site that lets students pick the style of art they want to use. Then they create the story and pick pictures to use in the story. Very simple and easy to use. Can use as early as first grade.

Animoto – use animoto for education - http://animoto.com/education you must apply for a educator account so use your school email. It may take up to 24 hours to get an account. Basically create you story in PPT and then convert the slides to jpegs and upload to animoto. Then you may select music or upload you own MP3 created that can be music or narration – then submit and they do the rest. Very easy and simple to use. Tutorial link below and it also includes how to convert PPT to jpeg files. Tutorial - http://www.slideshare.net/kbrooks/pptpicturesanimototutorial

Xtranormalxtranormal.com is great for digital storytelling – students create the script and choose the character, setting, action and animation. However, it is no longer free and is mostly a paid site now so this can be an expensive venture.

Toondoo - toondoo.com/ - Is a great website for creating a cartoon. Many kids need this to be introduced to digital storytelling. It is short and focused – keeping the children focused in developing just a few frames. Very easy to use.

ComicSketch - http://www.mainada.net/comics/ This is a little more complex and designed for students that can draw.

Comiqs - http://comiqs.com/ Another cartoon site for developing stories. Very similar to Toondoo.

Pixstrips - http://www.comeeko.com/ Another Cartoon comic creator used by schools in the area. Very similar to toondoo.

PreziPrezi.com – this is a very abstract random tool that is used as a presentation tool like PPT, but has more features. (PPT now has a free add on us can use to make it like Prezi). Kids seem to really like Prezi, and can get very creative with it. However, the story concept needs to be fully developed before they sit down to design. A tutorial for Prezi is located at http://www.slideshare.net/kbrooks/prezi-tutorial-2010

Zoho – Show - http://show.zoho.com/login.do Great online web-based tool that is compatible with PPT.

Blabberize - http://blabberize.com/ This is a wonderful website that creates talking pictures. Great for book reports and biographies. Students take a picture or a person, animal or even an object and can make it talk with their voice. All they have to do is select a picture and upload, align dots to the mouth to make it move, then record their dialogue and save. An embed code and link code are given so it can be posted on a website.

Voicethreadhttp://voicethread.com/ there is a public version that is free and an educational version that is paid. This is a great tool to use to great a story and get feedback, as well as to create a collaborative story. Would be great to use in classes as a story chain.

Yodio - http://www.yodio.com/ Create talking pictures/postcards – great for telling stories about history and historic places.

Fotobabble - http://www.fotobabble.com/ - Create talking pictures/postcards – great for telling stories about history and historic places.

Tabblo - http://www.tabblo.com/studio - Great for creating story starters with pictures or a picture/story cube. Been around and used for about 8 years.

Collage type storytelling

Glogsteredu.glogster.com/ some schools blog this tool. However, it is a great visual tool to create a story collage that has links, movies, etc embedded into it.

VuVox-Domino - http://www.vuvox.com/collage/detail/31609 - new, but works like glogster and does not have an educational version yet.

Timeline Story Tools:

There are many more technologies for Digital Storytelling – these are just a few we are using in the Hudson Valley schools. More resources can be found at http://cogdogroo.wikispaces.com/StoryTools

Graphic Organizers for starting stories can be found on http://www.thinkfinity.org/ using ReadWriteThink (http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/student-interactives/ ) Partner Tools searching for story or writing tools.

Friday, February 4, 2011

2011 - Year of the Personal Tablets and the Rabbit

It has been a while since I actually blogged about a topic and have been mostly posting Professional Development resources. 2011 in not only the hopping year of the Rabbit, it is also the very prosperous year of the tablet.

I have been watching the iPad, doing trainings and of course trying out apps. However, I would love a tool that had a little bit more and better designed for a school setting. Next came along the Samsung Galaxy Tablet with the cameras and the USB ports. Very handy for my personal life, but not sold on the educational value yet. Both are ranked in the Top 5 Tablets for 2010-2011. (Top 10 Tablets 1/10/11)

This past month, I have read Readicide, Focus, extensively examined the Common Core English Language Arts Curriculum Maps mapping out technologies to support these standards and read about the New York State 1.5 Billion Budget Cuts in Educational Funding, which is approximately 30-40 teaching in many of the districts I work in as an Instructional Coach.

I remember the CPS fad with schools buying into the Classroom Response Systems and now teachers can have kids use their cell phones using Polleverywhere.com to get the same results and it is 1500-2000 dollars cheaper than buying the classroom set of remotes, which are sitting in many districts unused. What child today that has a cell phone does not have unlimited texting? The average child sends about 3-4 thousand text messages a month. Why not model some good use for using these devices in the classroom. Well, that means updating attitudes and Acceptable Use Policies and some school districts are just not ready to do that.

Many school districts are looking to go to the 1-1 computing fad. In these financially economic hard times can we justify this movement? We can justify Problem Based Learning, but computers for every student as well? Has a needs assessment been done to see if the students will actually use these tablets? How durable are they? Or, has a trial test been done to actually see if they improve student learning and performance or is it just a fad?

Well, in pops the next set of Tablets. One that is actually created for the classroom called the Kineo. This one caught my attention and if you are an educator with a typical iGeneration class, I am sure this will catch your eye as well.

This device was announced and demonstrated at the Florida Educational Technology Conference in January 2011. Approximately three Kineo's can be purchased for the price of one iPad (with most memory); The Kineo sells for 299.00. So, is this an instructional tool that is needed? Well, if we look at the February 2011 issue of Educational Leadership and synthesize this article, my answer would be, "Yes". But, how do we get these for a school especially in the financially difficult times we are facing? Plus, is this a technology we really need. Doesn't curriculum drive the instructional tools used? Well, I would have to say "Yes" again. Since textbooks are going to a digital version, we need to prepare for this now in our districts long range planning since it will occur in the next three years. So how do we pay for this? Well, teachers and administrators are going to have to get creative. I highly recommend the old fashion art of grant writing.

My recommendation is a trial classroom set for a school and write a grant to get them. There are a lot of literacy grants out there that can be used for this, such as ISTE NYS Technology Grants and Dollar General Literacy Grants. As educators, we need to get creative in finding ways to get the tools we need for the classroom. These economic times are going to get much harder before they get better. We are doing our students a great injustice by not exposing them to the technologies that will better enhance our childrens learning. However, just as every child is different, so are schools and districts. Therefore, I have concluded that it is best for the educational community that services the children to decide which technologies, fads and reading program best meets their students educational needs - as long as it is driven by the basic curriculum. ;-)

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