Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Get Published! - PART 1: Online Publishing

As the new year begins, I feel invigorated to start blogging again and to produce more webinars for my school district. I am big believer in online learning as part of a professional development model. So next Wednesday, I will be doing a 20 minute webinar titled "Get Published". I will be doing this webinar 4 times on that day (8:10, 10:20, 11:50, and 3:30 central time). To prepare for the webinar, I decided to blog about each section of my presentation. Blogging allows me to refine my thinking and to truly get mentally prepared to deliver quality professional development!

When students write, they want an authentic audience. Writing for the teacher is just not that authentic and is not motivating for students. When I was a student, I hated to write because there did not seem like much of a point to it...besides the grade. There are several web technologies that can provide students with an authentic audience for which to write. As teachers, we can still teach writing traits and structure and utilize online resources for that final draft product. These online resources can provide the spark that ignites our students' creativity and passion for writing. Lets look at a couple resources that can be easily integrated into your writing instruction.


Flipsnack is a great tool for creating online books. The great thing about using Flipsnack is that the students never use the site at all, so there is no need for student accounts. Only the teacher needs to setup an account. Teachers can use a Facebook, Google, Twitter, or Yahoo account to sign in if they already have one. This just saves us from having to remember one more username and password. You can create your own Flipsnack login if you wish though. Flipsnack converts PDF files into online, interactive books like my example here. The teacher only needs to load the final writing products into their Flipsnack account. From there, the books can be shared via a link or can be embedded onto a website, blog, etc. For students, they can write their stories in Word, PowerPoint, or any other authoring program. Once students are finished, they save their product as a PDF. This PDF is loaded to Flipsnack and now that student's work is published for the world to see. 

Reasons I like Flipsnack:
- no new software for students to learn
- one login for the teacher
- link or embed option
- utilizes programs for writing that students are already familiar with using
- free to use

Little Bird Tales

Little Bird Tales provides a different online publishing experience. Students will do all of their writing and illustrating within Little Bird Tales. Teachers can setup a free classroom account. Once in that account, they can setup their classes and create the student ids and passwords. I like that the teacher can customize this however they want. Teachers can also review their students' stories from within the management interface. That is a plus! Students log in with a classroom 4 digit code and their unique username and password. Once logged in, students can begin creating their stories. Students upload images (artwork) that they wish to use for their backgrounds. Students also have the ability to create their own illustrations. The illustration tools are pretty basic, but they get the job done. Students can then add text and the optional voice recording for each page. These features make Little Bird Tales stand out from other similar storytelling resources. Check out my Little Bird Tale Example. Final products can be shared with a link or can be embedded onto a website, blog, etc. 

Reasons I like Little Bird Tales
- simple setup and good management tools for the teacher
- simple to use interface for students
- create illustrations or use images from multiple sources
- voice recording option
- free

These tools are just two that I will be talking about next week. Technology can be a great motivator and can provide the authentic audience that students crave. Integration of these tools is not time consuming. If you want to learn more about these tools, please come to my webinar on Wednesday

This is technology that actually works!

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