Sunday, April 28, 2013

2nd Graders Creating with Make Beliefs Comix: A PD Success Story

Last week, I had the privilege to visit and work with a group of 2nd graders. Going into classrooms and teaching students is always the highlight of my job. These students were learning how to create a story in Storybird. They were excited and seemed to pick it up very quickly. As I left the room, the students wanted me to look at their bulletin board in the hallway. They created comics with Make Beliefs Comix to show their understanding of books which had just been read. The students told me about how easy it was to use and how they enjoyed creating their comics. You could see the pride in their faces as they talked about this project. I was really happy that their teacher decided to give this resource a try. But that is only half the story...

The Instructional Technology team that I am a part of decided to try a new way to deliver some staff development. We created our first department newsletter. This newsletter contained tips and tricks and short tutorial videos about a variety of resources. We sent this out to all our teachers and the response was very positive. Because of this newsletter, those 2nd grade students were able to create and show the understanding of the books they read. Their teacher was able to pull this off just from watching an 8 minute tutorial video. I gave them no help or instruction. This was a success story all around and I think we will continue this newsletter next year! This is technology PD that works!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Getting Creative During the Testing Season

Hurrah spring is here! The weather turns warmer, the grass is growing, and unfortunately the anxiety in classrooms is growing is TESTING SEASON! Those high stakes tests are fast approaching and teachers everywhere are preparing. Part of the preparation is planning learning activities during the weeks of testing. We want learning to continue learning but want to keep any homework to a minimum. Perhaps you should use this time to try something new in your classroom. Engage your students natural creativity and let them create! A variety of technology resources for creating are available to you and your students.

Storybird -

Your students have been working on their writing skills all year. Storybird provides a great opportunity to put those skills to the test. With Storybird, students can create their own books with wonderful illustrations. No artistic talent is needed! Just select the art work you want to use and begin writing. Once completed, your students' stories can be posted online to share with the world. Students also have the option to buy a printed copy of their book.

A variety of skills can be integrated into a Storybird project such as:
  • Descriptive language
  • Sentence structure
  • Plot
  • Setting
  • theme
  • and more!
If you are interested, check out the video below for setup instructions!

Photo Story
Photo Story from Microsoft is one of those "oldie but goodie" resources that teachers still love. With an easy to use interface, Photo Story can be used by students at just about any grade level. Students can locate their images and save them to a folder. This also provides a great opportunity to discuss digital citizenship when citing sources. Then students upload them into Photo Story, add their narrations, tweak the motion, and add music. That is it! Photo Story can be used in any subject area and at any level. To increase the students' audience, upload the finished products to the teacher website, YouTube, SchoolTube, or any other video hosting site. 

Students could create a movie in Photo Story to:
  • create book trailers
  • create documentaries
  • create persuasive videos
  • demonstrate a concept
  • summarize a story or historical event

Want to give it a try? Check out the video below.


Make Beliefs Comix
A really fun website that has several curricular connections is and it is definitely worth checking out. With no sign in required, students of all ages can create comics using an assorted of backgrounds, characters, and props. Curricular applications range from simple vocabulary and storytelling to creating political cartoons. The website also contains links to teaching ideas and specific lesson plans. If you want to learn more, check out the tutorial video below.

These resources could be used all year long but maybe this time of year is a good place to try it for the first time. Let students create and show you what they know and are able to do!

Do you have a favorite resource that your students use? Please share that resource here or tweet me @itechbob.