My favourite subjects to teach are SPHE and English and out of the whole English curriculum, the most enjoyable and challenging areas for me to teach is the writing genre.
I write a lot in my spare time and am a member of a writing group so you would think that it would come naturally. It does but when you are teaching children whose first language is not English, it makes me think a bit more!
I think that a teacher can easily teach character, setting and story structure but when it comes to the idea behind a story, getting the children to access their imagination can be tricky. It’s not that they don’t have imagination, they do but teaching the narrative genre at primary levels requires stimulus as well as structure.
Storybird was brought to my attention when I put out a tweet to the #edchatie folk. Immediately, @pollamhadaigh or Neasa sent me back some information on the Storybird platform, which is free, free, free!
Storybird is an online story making website. You can make a collaborative story and even better, the teacher can set up a blank story and their students can add to it at home or in school. You can set up an account simply, a class account can take up to 30 students. You can create a story or read from many, many stories online from around the world. Finally, once you have created and published, you can get the books printed off or on iPad as a pdf and sell them. Brilliant idea for fundraising.
I had the chance to look at it today and made a nice, little story in 5 minutes and published it in 1! I had an issue with it though, I was trying to add pictures from the extensive catalogue that Storybird contains online but it just wouldn’t let me. And here lies it Unique Selling Point and an access into a child’s imagination and uniqueness.
You type a word into the catalogue search engine. For example, I typed “cat”. I love cats and having a naughty cat as a central character will always hook the young readers in! When I typed in cat, I found an image from an artist’s page I liked and started creating my story.
Thing is that when you want to create the second page of your story, you can only use the pictures from that particular theme that you initially chose. It seems odd and controlling but that is actually what forces you to be creative and think of the different sections to your story.
I haven’t tried it with the children yet but will do so this week. I will update and let you know if it works or doesn’t but it seems to be a worldwide success so I’m thinking if the children persevere, it will work.
Storybird is available for free for educators at www.storybird.com and you can find a clear tutorial here on YouTube.
Last Update: August 9, 2017