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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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Fluency Finder: App

Posted by admin | Posted in Interactive book, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources | Posted on 04-03-2013

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Normally I post all of my app posts at my other blog, iPad Curriculum.  Because iDevices are becoming SO common place as a technology in the classroom, I’m going to start posting them here as well.  If you just want apps, head over to iPad Curriculum and you can search apps only!  Just like iLearn Technology, you can search any app by Bloom’s Taxonomy level.  All of the websites I share on iLearn Technology are completely FREE, the apps I review tend to be a mix of free and paid apps.  At the bottom of each post, I share the cost of the app.


Screen Shot 2013-03-04 at 2.29.31 PMFluency Finder

What it is: Fluency Finder is a fantastically handy app that I learned about from my friend @dkapuler.  David was kind enough to offer Team Anastasis some download codes so that we could try the app out with our students.  Any teacher who has ever done fluency tests knows that they can be a little bit of a pain.  Folders and folders of passages to store, stop watch, scribbled notes on the page as they read, calculator, and keeping track of it all in an orderly fashion to refer back to later.  I’m a huge fan of anything that can help minimize the paper I have to store and keep track of in my life.  Fluency Finder takes care of all of this!  Not only can you record results, you can also maintain records on a class full of students and share information.  You can easily find and track fluency rates so that you have more time to help students strengthen reading skills and find books that are confidence-building and enjoyable.

How to integrate Fluency Finder app into the classroom:

Fluency Finder makes it simple to assess reading fluency in 1st-8th grade reading levels.  To get started:

  • Add students to the app
  • Select an appropriate grade level passage for the student to read
  • Print the passage from the www.fluencyfinder.com website (students could also read from their own iDevice or computer if you want to save paper)
  • Begin assessment, start the app timer as the student begins reading
  • Student will read from printed passage as you follow on your iDevice marking any mistakes
  • Tap the (+) button when student makes a reading mistake
  • Tap the (-) button if the student self-corrects a mistake
  • End the timer when the student finishes
  • Tap the “finish assessment” button to instantly see results

Now instead of focusing so much on keeping track of the fluency and score, you can focus on what actually matters: listening for fluency, comprehension and expression.

Being a paperless school, we are LOVING this option for helping students choose books that are at a level that is “just right.”  It gives us the opportunity to help students hunt down the perfect amount of challenge and really focus on a story they can love.  We are all about encouraging an absolute love of reading!

Screen Shot 2013-03-04 at 2.29.58 PM

Tips: Target Fluency Rates

First Grade: 60-70 wpm

Second Grade: 80-95 wpm

Third Grade: 100-120 wpm

Fourth Grade: 120-135 wpm

Fifth Grade: 130-145 wpm

Sixth Grade: 140-150 wpm

Seventh Grade: 150-160 wpm

Eighth Grade 160-175 wpm

Cost: $6.99 (iTunes link)

Compatible with: iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 4.3 or later

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  Fluency Finder in your classroom.

Comments (1)

[…] books that are confidence-building and enjoyable for them.  I have written about Fluency Finder before (here), but I’m writing about it again because they have just come out with some great new features […]

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