Friday, 23 October 2009

Storybird flies into my Spanish lessons

ImageChef Word Mosaic -

I first started Tweeting in earnest in April this year, and quickly found that I was hooked. I have lost count of the number of very useful links and fantastic ideas that I have received via Twitter. One of the links that I found was the Free Technology for Teachers blog via which I receive interesting links every day. On October 17th I received a link to an online story-writing site called Storybird. I had a quick look while I was having my breakfast, thought it looked quite good and so set about bookmarking it in Delicious. It turned out that I had already bookmarked it on September 8th. So that was twice that I thought it looked quite good. I had a closer look, this time at some of the stories. I really liked it, and could see lots of potential for MFL, so decided to tweet it:

This started what I can only describe as an avalanche of activity from the Twitterati. Storybird was blogged by Lisibo and Dom and lots of people set about making their own, including me.

The one thing that kept bugging me, though, was how can I use this in the classroom ?

We've been muttering in the LA for at least a year now about promoting the use of big books in the foreign language in primary language lessons. Storybird seemed to offer a useful "in". Therefore I did a bit of research about big books and how to use them, and planned my first lessons using my Storybird.

My KS2s are all beginners, and so have only been learning Spanish since the second week of this term. I wanted to get them being creative with the language that they had learned so far, in particular greetings, saying their name and saying how they feel. I used my Storybird to give an example of how a little language can go a long way. The previous lesson they had done a matching exercise to give them a glossary of useful words and phrases. To reinforce this language, we started the lesson with a rectangle puzzle courtesy of Tarsia Formulator and then checked over our glossaries from the previous lesson. Then came the Storybird. I showed them the front cover and asked what the title was. Then I asked them what they thought the story was about, and what would happen in it. Next I read the story to them and we discussed whose predictions had been right. Then I read it again, stopping at least once on every page, and the class had to tell me what the next word was. After that, we all read it out loud, doing all the silly voices and actions. Then the children set about writing their own dialogues, having seen that they could actually get quite a long bit of text out of the little language that they know.

Year 6 and Year 4 enjoyed it, but it was Year 3 I was most surprised by. They had by far the most imaginative ideas about the story ("the monster has no friends and goes around saying hola to lots of people to find a friend") and were also the most enthusiastic about reading the story out loud, even though they are the least confident readers in KS2. The best bit of their lesson was when the Head came in just as we were all reading it together and was treated to an excellent performance !

So I had a very successful first flight with Storybird, and it's definitely something that I will be pursuing in the future. I'll be incorporating ideas from the National Literacy Strategy along with ideas for working with texts which I have from a Sunderland LA working group back in 2000.

Hence the graphic at the top - I "heart" Storybird !

1 comment:

  1. Like you, I've stumbled across the Storybird link many times on both Twitter and Delicious. Your post made me give it a closer look. As an ELA teacher, I'd be curious to see how it might work if students got to create their own stories.

    Thanks for the inspiration!