Charlotte's Web ThingLink

Friday, March 27, 2015

Storybird/EduWin guest blogger Nicole van Wilgen with Google Sites

April is National Poetry Month. During the month, invites students in grades 5 through 12, to write letters to poets in response to the poets’ reading their poetry. Dear Poet 2015 offers lesson plans for educators and videos for students to watch. Lesson plans are aligned with Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking CCSS standards.

However, this is a great time for any grade level to incorporate the CCSS ELA standards. In early grades, students are required to begin reading poetry and there are standards for students as early as second grade to “Create audio recordings of prose or poems; add drawings or other visual displays to stories or recounts of experiences when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.”

Lisa Highfill, EdTech Guru extraordinaire, recently introduced me to StoryBird, another free website you and your students can use to read the work of other students, or to create books and poems and then share their writing. Lisa presented a lesson she did with Kindergarten students using Storybird, the Write feature, Storybird artwork with the Poem application, and the “magnetic word” choices that are suggested for each picture. Here is an example from Lisa’s class

Because Storybird is accessed through a website, it can be used with any device and from anywhere the user can sign in using an internet connection. Here’s how to get started.

Go to the Storybird website and Sign up for Free account, then choose Educator/Teacher. You’ll then be able to sign up using your GAFE (Google Apps for  Education) username and password (you’ll have to be signed into your account so it can be linked to Storybird). Then, create a username. You will then need to activate your account by clicking on a link they send in an e-mail.
Open Storybird and select Studio to activate an Educator Dashboard. Here is where you will create a class account and receive a code to invite students to your class.

To have students join your class, first make sure they are signed into their GAFE account. Then, have them go to the website. They will click on the Sign up for Free button, and then choose Student. Once they accept the terms allowing their GAFE account to be linked to their Storybird account, they will then create a username (to avoid having students attempt creating a username that hasn’t already been taken, have them use their GAFE username, eg. 11maryflyn) and Create an Account. When the account is created, they may need to sign in again This time, they need to select the Class tab and Join a Class entering your class code. While they may receive a message that an email has been sent, the Storybird website states, “Note that student emails are not required (but are optional for older students).” Your student is now ready to create.

For the magnetic poetry activity, choose the Write tab and then select the artwork you’d like to use.

Select Use this art for a: and then select poem. The artwork will show up in another window with suggested words to use to create the poem. Just drag and drop the words in place.

Once finished, select Publish. There, the poem can be e-mailed, or you can get a URL or code to embed the poem into a website. To make the poems easy to share, Lisa took screenshots of each of the poems and had pasted them into a shared Google Presentation.

Storybird offers lots of opportunities for students to write and share their work. Please let me know how your class is using Storybird and I’ll share those ideas with other teachers.

EduWin/Guest Blog by Nicole van Wilgen

As a Google Apps For Education district our students have the ability to create Google Sites with limited sharing permissions. This is great news for teachers who want to have their students build a website, but don’t want their students’ work to be public on the web.

Over the past few weeks in 7th grade English/Language Arts classes at Union Middle School students have created digital reflective portfolios via Google Sites.  For some students, and teachers, Google Sites can be a complicated and daunting task, so I decided to put together a series of instructional videos for my students to watch as they build their Google Sites.  I housed all videos on my YouTube account, so my students would always have access to them.  

Please feel free to use my videos in your classroom or to help you make your own Google Site.  You can access all fifteen videos here.

Note: Sometimes when watching the YouTube videos at school, some of the videos would be blocked due to safety mode. This varied by student, and some students did not have a problem with any of the videos.

If you or one of your colleagues are doing something in your class that uses edtech tools, please let me know. I'd love to share it with other teachers.