I was reminded about Storybird at my March District Librarians meeting last week and realized that I haven’t shared it with students and teachers at my new school this year.
Storybird allows anyone to “make gorgeous, art-inspired stories in seconds.” (Or, more realistically, minutes.) The site has a huge collection of searchable and browse-able artwork, and a simple drag-and-drop format for creating online picture books, chapter books, and poetry pages.
First page of art results for the tag “rain.” (Click to enlarge.)
Users can’t upload their own artwork, so students who write a story first may have difficulty finding exactly the right art to match their words. For that reason, it might be best to let the art inspire the words, which is helpful for students who have trouble coming up with ideas. Once students have chosen the artwork they want to use, they add the pictures to their book pages (as many or as few as they want) and type in their text. Students can save their work and continue to edit it later, until they are ready to publish. Published works can be shared or kept private.
Once an art collection is selected, students are given a template for creating a book. (Click to enlarge.)
Education accounts are free and allow teachers to create classes and assign user names and passwords to their students. This makes it easy to monitor student progress. Stories can be viewed online at the Storybird site and can be embedded in a website or blog, but there is a fee to download them. Printed copies of finished books can be ordered from the site for a fee, and you can even use the site as a fundraiser. Your students purchase published copies of their books, and you keep 30% of the sales.
Here’s a Storybird book I created as I was learning to use the site tools. (I was trying to model writing rich descriptions by using lots of adjectives and adverbs.) It only took about 30 minutes from start to finish.
If you’re a fan of Storybird and you have any user suggestions, or want to share a story or poem, please leave a comment!
Just a quick look at some new furniture I purchased for my library, thanks to my fall book fair profits:
This yellow Jonti-Craft Berries KYDZ 60″ Six-Leaf Table will be used for our Creation Station. I can place supplies in the middle of the table for students to work with individually, or students can work together to create something in the center of the table. The cutouts allow students to reach whatever is in the middle of the table more easily! (I ordered this from DEMCO. My cost was $280.)
This blue Jonti-Craft Berries KYDZ 60″ Horseshoe Table will be used for our Demonstration Station. Whoever is leading the activity can sit in the middle to show students how to do something new, and assist them if they have problems. The deep horseshoe shape (rather than a more semi-circle kidney shape) allows the facilitator to easily interact with each student at the table. (I ordered this from DEMCO. My cost was $345.)
I also ordered the matching chairs from DEMCO for $48 each. This isn’t meant to be a commercial for DEMCO, but I wanted to share the purchase info in case anyone was curious!
My only quibble with the tables and chairs is that they are not on casters, but they aren’t that heavy and they slide easily across the carpet in my library. If you have recently purchased or “McGyvered” some makerspace furniture, I hope you’ll share in the comments!
I’m still having fun playing with the Google apps I learned about in last week’s #GAFE Summit, and one of the ideas that experience sparked involves using Google Docs to coordinate purchase requests from the teachers in my school. As the media spcialist, I value their input as I decide what resources to order for the library but it can be difficult sometimes to keep track of all their requests.
In the past they have emailed me or written me notes detailing the subjects they cover and the materials they need to support the curriculum. But now, the collaborative element of Google Docs will make it possible for them to submit all their requests in one online document.
Here’s a sample of what I envision the Purchase Requests Doc will look like. (Click the image to enlarge.)
Anyone with whom I share the link to the official document will have editing rights, so all the teachers will be able to add their requests themselves. Each grade level will be assigned a different color so that I can see at a glance if one grade is over- or under-represented in the ordering process. And I can respond to their requests to let them know I have added items to my order, or that we already have the resources they need. This will also serve as a reminder to me to notify the appropriate teachers once the new materials have arrived.
I also do most of the technology troubleshooting at my school, so I may create another Doc for teachers to use to submit any tech problems that need my attention. I could use Google Forms for that, but I think having all of the requests in one place would make a powerful statement about how much of my time is spent keeping the technology working.
If you are already using Google Docs to coordinate requests, I’d love to hear your tips and suggestions. Please leave a comment, or tweet me at @LibraryLoriJune
To celebrate my day off from school today, I visited a big bookstore to spend a few happy hours in the picture book section. (You did that too, right?) Among the many delightful titles I examined was one that immediately stood out as a great read-aloud for my library classes:
A Perfectly Messed-Up Story by Patrick McDonnell
Little Louie is so excited about the story he wants to tell, but when first a jelly blob and then a peanut butter glob land on his beautiful pages, he is outraged that someone is being so careless with his book.
Page from A PERFECTLY MESSSED UP STORY by Patrick McDonnell
Orange juice stains, fingerprints,scribbles — keep calm, Librarians! — will no one respect Louie’s story? He eventually comes to realize that we can enjoy books (and life in general) in spite of any imperfections that intrude.
McDonnell (winner of a Caldecott Honor medal for Me . . . Jane) has created a thoroughly charming character in Louie, and there’s no doubt that as a librarian I have found a soul mate in him! In Louie’s own words: “We need to show some respect here. Books are important. They teach us stuff and they inspire us.”
And I love that I can use this book to share three different messages with my students: 1) Please take care of your library books!, 2) Even if someone else didn’t take such good care of a library book, you can still enjoy the story, and 3) Don’t let a little “jelly” spoil your good times. (In that respect it reminds me of Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin!)
No wonder this book received a starred review from both Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly! And right now you can purchase it from Amazon at 30% off the cover price.
What book(s) do you use to emphasize book care with your students? Tell us about them in the comments!
I had the opportunity to participate in a great twitter chat Monday night dedicated to discussing ways librarians can support STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) in our schools.
Some of the ideas that were shared include:
- facilitating computer coding sessions for students
- stocking library learning centers and Makerspace areas with building materials (Legos, K-nex, Little Bits, etc)
- displaying student art in the library
- providing “maker” books for students (Lego idea books, duct tape projects, Minecraft manuals, origami instructions, etc)
- donating weeded library books for project components
- hosting themed maker sessions that are tied to the curriculum
- sharing creative writing tools like Storybird for non-fiction writing
- designing 3-D printing projects tied to the curriculum (i.e., math students printing geometric shapes such cylinder, cone, etc)
- using rap, hip hop, and other types of music to memorize facts
- sponsoring a Minecraft club
- offering creative writing workshops for students
- creating a collection of nonfiction graphic novels
- leading a themed Genius Hour project tied to the curriculum
- using Skype or Google Hangouts to connect students with other classes or field experts
You can find an archive of the entire STEAM in the Library chat here. Please follow #tlchat (TeacherLibrarianChat) and #tlelem (TeacherLibrarianElementary level) on Twitter for new inspiration every day, and tweet those hashtags to share your own library successes!
Are you doing something different to support STEAM in your school? Please share it in the comments!