Today I’m reflecting on another idea sparked during the Google Apps for Education Summit I attended two weeks ago. Ever since Adam Seipel introduced me to Google Story Builder, I knew it was a perfect fit to use with the Elephant and Piggie series, written and illustrated by Mo Willems.
If you follow Book Buzz, the children’s book blog I write for my students, you know I recently posted about Elephant and Piggie. The simple story lines and mostly two-character adventures are perfect for introducing young readers to the comic book format, which uses speech bubbles for dialog. Each year I use comic books/graphic novels to get kids hooked on reading and I encourage teachers to use them in the classroom for a variety of purposes. So what does all of this have to do with Google Story Builder? Let me explain….
Story Builder is designed to create short videos that mimic what you see onscreen when multiple users are collaborating on a Google Doc.
You simulate that experience by naming your characters and assigning them a unique color, then typing in what you want them to say. You can even add one of Google’s music clips. Once your story is complete, you are automatically given a unique URL to share your video. Here’s a Story Builder video I created using text from the book Are You Ready to Play Outside?
My plan is to use this to spark a creative writing activity in which students would create their own Elephant and Piggie adventure. I’d start by sharing the book Are You Ready to Play Outside?, then students would pair up to examine other Elephant and Piggie books and come up with an original idea for their own E&P story. Next I’d show them my Story Builder of Are You Ready to Go Outside and demonstrate how to use the app. Students would then type up their own Story Builders and share them with the class.
Not only does this make a good writing project, it could also serve as an introduction to using Google Docs for real-time collaboration. We could even use it in a punctuation lesson by re-writing the dialog-only Story Builder stories using complete sentences with quotation marks, commas, and periods.
*Update 7/27/15: There’s a great post at the Nerdy Book Club blog titled Top 10 Lessons Elephant and Piggie Taught Us that is fantastic! Jen Terry and Jacquie Eckert have captured the real appeal of the E&P books.
p.s. It would be great if Google provided an embed code for the finished Story Builders, but all they give you is a link to a webpage view. In order to show my Story Builder here in my blog I had to screencast it, upload it to my YouTube channel, and get an embed code there. I used a Chrome extension I learned about at the Charleston GAFE Summit this summer called Snagit to do that, but that’s a post for another day!