Tag: digital storytelling

5 Ways Ed-tech Can Enhance Social Studies Lessons

As is my habit, I spend a lot of time exploring new ways to teach old subjects. Lately, I’ve concentrated on social studies. I chatted with my PLN, browsed forums where I knew efriends hung out, and taught a slew of online grad school classes to teachers who always are willing the discuss their newest favorite social studies tech tool. I picked everyone’s brains and came up with a list of five webtools you definitely must look at:

Classcraft

Some call Classcraft a classroom management tool but really, it’s more about injecting excitement in your teaching and touching on the important social-emotional learning that sometimes gets forgotten. Here’s a great quote I heard in a sponsored video:

“It might sound crazy to you and me but the kids love it.” — Sarah Murphy

The more I dug into Classcraft, the more I understood why Sarah Murphy said what she did. It’s pretty simple. Kids have a passion for learning and playing games. You incorporate that into your passion for teaching by gamifying your middle- or high school classroom. When students and teachers work together, toward the same goals, everyone wins.

The free (fee for Premium) Classcraft doesn’t teach standards or curricula for academic subjects. Instead, it focuses on core SEL (social-emotional learning) skills fundamental to the fullness of the education journey. That means it’s easy to apply to your social studies class. It uses tools already popular in your school — Google Classroom or MS Office 365, a browser, and an app (iOS or Android). You set up different tasks and customize rules to fit class needs.  Students work individually or in teams, becoming accountable for their behavior to themselves and their teams. When they achieve goals and/or abide by rules, they earn stuff they want (that you’ve organized beforehand). You can blend Classcraft activities into your existing lesson plans or use those available on the website. Robust analytics (included in the Premium package) allow you to track student behavior over time and compare it with the class average.

Also available: a timer, a class volume meter, and parent features — great basic tools for every class.

ClassroomScreen

ClassroomScreen is probably one of the most robust, versatile, and useful classroom tools to cross education’s “free” landscape in a long time. It will make your social studies lessons run smoother, make them more responsive to needs, and keep students focused on the lesson. When you click on ClassroomScreen.com, it opens a blank screen that is a digital board ready to be displayed on your class smart screen. You personalize it with the most popular tools desired in classroom, all lined up at the bottom of the screen. These include preferred language (you pick from about a hundred languages), customized background, sound level, QR code (for the classroom screen; students scan it in and it displays on any mobile device — isn’t that cool?), a whiteboard, a text tool, a start-stop traffic light, a timer, a clock, a random name picker (for teams), an exit poll, Work Symbols (four options for collaborative student work — work together, ask a neighbor, whisper, and silence), and more.  There’s no download, no login, no registration. Simply click the link and get started.

Commonsense Media calls it:

“…the Swiss Army Knife of the classroom…”

I agree. Here’s a video that decodes this already-simple class tool.

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Best-in-Class Digital Storytelling Tools

parents and technologyA digital story is a series of images connected with text and/or a narrated soundtrack — captured by a digital device such as an iPad or smartphone — that tell a story. It can be fiction, non-fiction, narrative, biographic, expository, or even poetry. Think of Ken Burns’ The Civil War, or Colin Low’s City of Gold. Because of its multimedia approach and appealing blend of text, color, movement, sound, and images, it has fast become one of the most popular writing exercises in schools.

According to Center for Digital Storytelling, there are seven elements critical to a good digital story:

  1. Point of View — What is the perspective of the author?
  2. Dramatic Question — A key question that keeps the viewer’s attention and will be answered by the end of the story.
  3. Emotional Content — Serious issues that come alive in a personal and powerful way and connects the audience to the story.
  4. Voice — personalize the story with the author’s unique writing style to help the audience understand the context.
  5. Soundtrack — Music or other sounds that support and embellish the story.
  6. Economy — Using just enough content to tell the story without overloading the viewer.
  7. Pacing — The rhythm of the story and how slowly or quickly it progresses.

These elements are the goal and may not be included in the first digital story written by a kindergartner, but by middle school, using the vast swath of multimedia tools available in digital storytelling, students will have no problem including all elements.

Writing a digital story includes five basic steps:

  1. Research the topic so you are clear on presentation.
  2. Write a script, a storyboard, or a timeline of activities.
  3. Collect the required multimedia parts — text, images, audio, video, oral selfies, and more.
  4. Combine everything into an exciting story.
  5. Share and reflect on the completed story.

These five steps are stepping stones for beginners and critical to experienced storytellers.

There are so many online options for digital storytelling, rarely is there a student who can’t find a webtool that fits their communication style. Here are nine of the most popular. Try them all and then let students pick the one that works best for them:

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storyboard that

Storyboard That–Digital Storyteller, Graphic Organizer, and more

storyboard thatStoryboard That is a leader among online digital storytelling tools thanks to its comic-based themes, clean layout, vast collection of story pieces, varied strip options, and intuitive drag-and-drop interface. Students can map out ideas, write stories, or relay events in a comic format using Storyboard That’s huge library of backgrounds, characters, text boxes, shapes, and images.  When you sign up as a teacher, you get a dashboard to manage students and support for Google sign-in. You also get teacher guides and lesson plans on subjects like English (Of Mice and Men), school social skills (like bullying), World History, US History, Special Education, and languages (like Teaching Spanish). Lesson plans include how-to steps, Common Core alignment, sample storyboard layouts, synopsis, and Essential Questions. 

Here’s how it works: Log into your account from any device (laptop, desktop–Mac or Windows–Chromebook, iPad, or even a smartphone) and Storyboard That automatically adapts to your device using its HTML5 responsive web design. Students can join with an access key supplied by the teacher–no email required–or be bulk-added by the administrator. Select the frame layout you’d like with any number of scenes, then add a background, characters, one or more props, and speech bubbles from Storyboard That’s image banks (of over 325 characters, 225 scenes, and over 45,000 images). Each element can be resized, rotated, and repositioned. Characters can be posed with flexibility at all joints, and adjusted for appearance and emotion. You can even upload images to use in the strip, add photos from the millions available through Photos for Class (including citations), and record a voice overlay (premium only) to narrate the story. Once finished, storyboards can be saved as PDFs, storyboard cells, PowerPoint presentations, and/or emailed out.

Beyond the traditional strip layout, Storyboard That offers graphic organizers such as a T-chart, a Grid, a Frayer Model, a Spider Map and a Timeline (premium and education account).This is great for visual learners who thrive on color and images.

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LESSON PLANNING

Monday Freebies #28: My Storybook

This year more than any before, classroom budgets have been cut making it more difficult than ever to equip the education of our children with quality teaching materials. I understand that. I teach K-8. Because of that, I’ve decided to give the lesson plans my publisher sells in the Technology Toolkit (110 Lesson Plans that I use in my classroom to integrate technology into core units of inquiry while insuring a fun, age-appropriate, developmentally-appropriate experience for students) for FREE. To be sure you don’t miss any of these:

…and start each week off with a fully-adaptable K-8 lesson that includes step-by-step directions as well as relevant ISTE national standards, tie-ins, extensions, troubleshooting and more. Eventually, you’ll get the entire Technology Toolkit book. If you can’t wait, you can purchase the curriculum here.

I love giving my material away for free. Thankfully, I have a publisher who supports that. If everyone did, we would reach true equity in international education.

My Storybook

Create a ten-sentence story, using characters, setting, plot, rising action, climax and resolution. One sentence per page with a picture to communicate the idea. Include a cover, About the Author. Use this lesson to teach students how to use Publisher’s design gallery

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digital whiteboard

Monday Freebies #25: Intro to PowerPoint–with KidPix Pictures

Drawings are done in KidPix. Assign topics (me, my family, etc) for grades K-1 to reinforce the concept of following directions. With 2nd grade, use one picture for each of the parts of a story—characters, plot, setting, climax/resolution.  Mix pictures and text. Students can show these to parents at Open House or a parent night using Windows slideshow function (something they can do without assistance after a bit of practice)

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Weekend Website #51: 17 Story Sites for First and Second Grade

This is my list of websites students can use when we’re studying story-telling, fables and myths. This list includes sites

[caption id="attachment_4872" align="alignright" width="222"]create a story Create a story[/caption]

where students can read stories, have stories read to them and create their own. I pick 3-4, post them on our internet start page for a week or two, and then change the list. If you click that link, it takes you to kindergarten. You can select the red first grade tab or the blue second grade for more choices. If you don’t see any there, it’s because we’re not discussing stories right now.

See which work best for your students:

  1. Aesop’s Fables
  2. Aesop Fables—no ads
  3. Bad guy Patrol
  4. Childhood Stories
  5. Classic Fairy Tales
  6. Fairy Tales and Fables
  7. Make Your Story (more…)