My grade 12 World Geography class just finished writing children’s picture books using Storybird. The students were asked to write a children’s story depicting the journey of a child who was forced to migrate due to environmental or geopolitical reasons. The story had to be based in actual events or events that may occur in the near future given current environmental or geopolitical trends.
Storybird is a fantastic platform for creating picture books, allowing students to utilize professional art to help tell their story. Teachers can set up a free account for their students, monitor their progress as they write their stories, and moderate comments as students peer assess the stories. There is even an option to provide feedback and grades through the website.
I was really impressed with the quality of the work my student’s produced. I always like to encourage student product that takes their learning public and empowers students to become creators of content rather than passive consumers. Storybird certainly allowed for this type of experience. We have shared the books with elementary classrooms and community groups and are looking forward to hearing from our readers.
Two examples of the stories my students created:
I’ll admit it. I show a lot of documentaries in my classes. There is just no escaping it in a World Issues or World Geography class, there are just too many great films to show. One thing, however, that I am not a fan of though is “movie questions” or “movie notes” that the students must complete while watching documentaries. The students spend too much time looking at their notebooks and not enough time looking at the screen.
We want the students to be engaged in the documentary and we want them to think critically about the what they see and hear, but we don’t want them to be consumed with answering questions that the teacher thought were important to answer. Enter the Tweet Chat. Today, I had my students participate in a tweet chat while we watched the documentary The Real Slumdogs. I posed a question before the documentary started to get the students thinking and had the students use a common hashtag to discuss the question and, more importantly, share their thoughts during the film.
Students were able to quickly tweet their thoughts and interact with one another without taking too much time away from the screen. It also provided an opportunity for them to share their learning with their peers outside of the classroom – which doesn’t hurt either. Here are the results: