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Picture a Story: Digital Storytelling

What it is: As I mentioned a few days ago, I am starting a virtual classroom/club for digital storytelling.  I have been on the lookout for great resources, I listed my favorites here, and now I am remembering a lot of tools I left off of my original list (like Toon Doo!).  Today as I was going through my Google Reader, I learned about this gem from Richard Byrne’s Free Tech for Teachers.  The Delaware Art Museum has provided a great website dedicated to storytelling.  The tagline is “bringing visual art to life through stories”.  On the site, students can picture a story, experience a story, or tell a story.  The Picture a Story was the most intriguing portion for me, as it provides a great tool for telling a digital story.  First, students choose a genre of story that they want to tell, next they choose a famous painting background for their story, students add characters (also from famous works of art), props, and then tell the story.  In the tell the story section, students type out the story.  If a microphone is available, students can even record the story in their own voice.  When students have completed their story, it can be shared via email. How to integrate Picture a Story into your curriculum: Stories are powerful.  I love the way that Picture a Story weaves together famous works of art with story.  It teaches students to reflect on the art that they encounter and think about the stories that it represents. Picture a Story is a great way to discuss genre, characters, and parts of a story.  It is also a fantastic way to bring a little art history into your classroom.  It would be a neat class experiment to have students choose all the same genre, background, characters, and props and, without talking to others, write their story.  After students are finished they can share their stories with the class.  Students will learn about perspective, creativity, and voice as they listen to all the different stories that originated from the same picture.  If you don’t have access to a computer lab, this activity could be done with an interactive whiteboard or projector connected computer and students writing on paper.  Let your students experiment with story and share their finished pieces with each other.  Picture a story is ideal in a lab setting where each student has access to their own computer.  If that isn’t a possibility, you could also have students visit Picture a Story on classroom computers as a storytelling center.  The site is quick to navigate through and students can tell a story in a sentence or a few paragraphs making it a good center.  If students don’t have access to email or can’t email the finished product to you, have them take a screenshot of the story to save in a digital portfolio or to print out. Tips: The teacher section of this site has some great lesson ideas for every grade level. Please leave a comment and share how you are using Picture a Story in your classroom!

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1-to-1 iPad ePortfolio solution

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Blogs, Classroom Management, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, iPod, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video | Posted on 11-10-2011

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Today @j_allen asked how we handled eportfolio’s at Anastasis Academy.  The 140 characters of Twitter felt a little too limiting to explain the hows and whys of what we do…bring on the blog post!

Anastasis has a one-to-one iPad program.  Our students own their iPads in a modified BYOD (bring your own device) setup.  I say modified because we requested what device they brought.  The iPad was the ONLY supply on our supply list. Anastasis supplies all other materials (pencils, papers, crayons, markers, paint, glue, etc.).  This has been a fantastic setup for us.  Families are in charge of keeping the iPads in working order, synced with the student iTunes account and charged for class.  We made the decision not to own the iPads as a school to keep costs low for technical support, replacement of broken or out-dated devices and so that our students could take ownership over their own devices.  Students can add any apps to the iPad at home using their own iTunes account.  As a school, we purchase curricular and productivity apps for students.  Students download these apps using redeem codes so that they can stay signed into their own iTunes account.

Anastasis has 60 students in 1st through 8th grade.  At the beginning of the school year, we sent home a list of recommended restrictions for parents to set up on student iPads.  We taught families how to enable parent restrictions on the Internet, movie/app/song ratings, and how to block in app purchases.  We asked all parents to restrict student access to Safari.  At school, we downloaded the MobiCip app to every iPad so that we could filter the Internet.  MobiCip allows us to set up broad category filters based on age. A premium MobiCip account lets us filter exactly what we want to and allow those sites we want to.  (For those who are wondering our students do have access to YouTube.) :)

I digress…the question was about ePortfolios.

We use a combination of Evernote, Edu 2.0 and Edublogs to keep and share our work.  Evernote has been a fantastic app for our students.  Students can record text, images, and audio directly in Evernote.  Each note can be emailed to teachers and parents.  A link can also be generated for each note making them easy to share on blogs.  Better yet? There are SO many apps that have the ability to share with Evernote.  Very handy.  Students do quite a bit of writing directly in Evernote.  This is a good place for all of student writing (even those pieces they don’t want to, or aren’t ready to, share).  Evernote makes it easy to organize all of their notes into notebooks (the learning curve here is teaching students to use some organization).  The ability to record audio and take pictures of their work in Evernote is great.  This means that students can capture learning that isn’t natively digital-digitally.  All of those awesome inquiry projects that they construct and build can be captured and reflected on in Evernote.  Another HUGE benefit to the Evernote/iPad combo: it goes with them everywhere.  Recording learning on a field trip? Check. Recording learning at home? Check. Recording learning on the fly? Check. Teachers often send students a PDF instructions for an assignment or a picture to the student’s Evernote account. Parents can login to their child’s Evernote account from any computer or iDevice to see what they are working on.

Edu 2.0 is our education portal.  In Edu 2.0 we can share things as a school community.  Edu 2.0 has a built in e-portfolio (we don’t often use this), a blog, a post feed, calendar, and message system.  Edu 2.0 makes it easy for us to stay connected as a school community.  Because we teach young students, this “walled” community is a safe place for students to share any, and all, of their work and thoughts.  Students often write blog posts in Edu 2.0 about their learning.  Other students, parents and teachers can comment on the Edu 2.0 blog posts.  Teachers use Edu 2.0 to send students assignments, make class announcements and communicate quickly with parents in their classroom.  Students can link any content from their Evernote account to their blog in Edu 2.0 to share it with other students, parents or teachers.  The school calendar is updated with all birthdays, learning excursions and school events so that students, parents and teachers are always up-to-date.  The live post feed makes it easy for teachers and administration to make school-wide announcements.  This feed shows up on the home page of every student, parent and teacher.

Each of our teachers has a class Edublog.  This is where the teachers write blog posts about the happenings in their classrooms.  Students can also contribute to the class blogs to get input and comments from a global audience.  The Edublog is the place for interaction and collaboration with the world.

We have a school YouTube account where students can upload videos and stop motion animations.  The school account has become a nice central place for students to share their work with the world.  I act as administrator on the YouTube channel so that I can moderate comments and videos.  Students can easily link to, or embed, videos they have created in Evernote, on their Edu 2.0 blog or on Edublogs.

This combination of tools has worked well as an ePortfolio for student work. I love that at the end of the school year students have ALL of their work with them.  Because they own their iPads, the Evernote content goes with them.  Even without the iPad, students can access their Evernote account from anywhere and continue using it.

Do you have a one to one program?  I would love to hear your solutions for an ePortfolio!

Comments (12)

I’ve nominated your blog for an award! Visit the link below to copy/paste the Blog on Fire button. Share seven things about yourself and pass the award along to some “hot” blogs you follow. Congrats and Happy October!

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I love your choice of tools. I think those are right on. But, I go back to a discussion we had early on – if someone walks into Anastasis and says “Can I see an ePorfolio?” do you bring up each site? I’d love to have one site where all of the collected info is organized. Easy to access and decipher by someone who does not interact with the kids on a daily basis. Ideally, a Google Site. But editable on the iPad and still filtered. I was told today by our staff to just build it.
I really appreciate the time you put in for this blog post. I love getting little peeks into Anastasis. Thank you!

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How do students publish videos to the school’s YouTube account? Do you share the password with the students?

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Barry, when students want to publish a video, they must bring the video to the teacher who inputs the password for the school account.

Josh, you are so right. There is no one tool that will do it all…hence my creation of the Learning Genome that will do ALL that we need it to do in one :) Until then, this solution is working well. We could show the kids Evernote account and get nearly everything in!

Thank you! I’m honored ;)

Hello, I would love to use Evernote with my students, but they are only third graders – obviously they don’t meet the age requirement of 13! Do you know of other e-portfolios tools like Evernote that younger students can use? Thanks so much!

We sign our kids up for Evernote and connect it with parent account and parent sign-off. This works well for us! I don’t know of one tool that does everything that Evernote does in one. I have use think.com with young students for this purpose.

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