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Samira Mohamed Bakr Mohamed
A teacher, trainer and educational consultant … read more
Samira Mohamed Bakr Mohamed

Storybird

Storybird is easy to use and can transform learners’ experiences of reading and creative writing. Learners can browse for stories that interest them and create their own picture books, stories and poems. Inspirational artwork can help them express and develop ideas and feelings in a safe learning environment.

Create, share and publish stories

Storybird is not specifically aimed at language learning, but it provides published, moderated stories to read and an online space that can transform creative writing activities. It’s not easy to express and develop your ideas or feelings, especially in a language that you’re learning. Storybird gives learners a choice of real artwork, characters and scenes, to inspire them to create anything from a picture book with just a few words per page, to a full-length novel with chapters, or even a piece of poetry! Learners can then share their work with their classmates, give and receive comments and get feedback from the teacher.

With an educational account, stories and poems written by your learners stay within your private Storybird class. Learners start by choosing artwork for their story and they can search for images for a particular thing: winter or rabbits, or for a theme: happiness or shopping for example, before adding them to the pages of their book and starting writing. You can also use Storybird to set assignments, asking learners to create a story based on a set of artwork, an artist or keyword and adding your written instructions or a video explanation. For poems, learners either choose from the selection of words provided, or you can create a custom wordlist for learners to use, perhaps to review vocabulary or grammar they’ve been studying.

How to use Storybird

Storybird can be used at any stage of a lesson; tasks can be completed individually or in groups, in class or at home, with more or less control. Storybird can be used for project-based learning and teaching, language and skills work, but you’ll need to create, set and stage appropriate tasks to take advantage of Storybird for language learning.

You could ask learners to read and write stories on different themes, characters, or events to focus on specific vocabulary and grammar. As with paper-based texts, you could use tasks to practise writing skills such as brainstorming, planning and editing; tasks to encourage extensive reading, such as reading then sharing short reviews; or tasks based more on creative language production and expression. Or you could develop self- and peer-evaluation skills if learners create or use an evaluation form to check their use of language, spelling, paragraphs and so on.

The comments feature allows you, your learners and even parents to add comments on a piece of writing, giving the learner a real audience for their work. This is great for sharing your responses to the writing, not just feedback on language content. Once learners have commented on their classmates’ work, you can moderate the comments and choose which ones are made public, but you could also take advantage of this feature to help learners to develop their commenting and communication skills, for example, how to add positive and constructive feedback: 'I like the way you…', 'Why did Javi run away?' You can choose whether your teacher comments are public, or private (only the individual learner can see their grades) when you grade learners’ work.

For learners

  • Use imagination and creativity!
  • Get inspiration from a wide variety of artwork and stories.
  • Write for a real audience: share and publish professional-looking work.
  • Interact: write and receive comments and feedback.
  • With teacher-set tasks: develop reading and writing skills and practise specific vocabulary or grammar.
  • Work at own pace, individually or in groups.

For teachers

  • Use at any stage of a lesson or for homework tasks.
  • Motivate learners to engage with writing tasks, write in more detail and write longer pieces of work.
  • Develop learners’ creativity and desire to write.
  • Provide a social tool and opportunities for real interaction with and between learners.
  • Create a class library to display work and inspire learners.
  • Involve parents easily with printed invitations to view work or fundraising activities.
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