App Smash Your Classroom into Digital Storytelling

Ignite classroom creativity through storytelling.

April 25, 2016
Emily Stout
Technology coordinator
Holly Hills Elementary School
Denver, CO
CATEGORIES In the Classroom, Technology Integration, Tools

Giving students choice in the way they produce and publish their writing can give voice to the creativity that cements learning. And letting students tell their stories in different ways doesn’t have to be a lot of extra work for the teacher, either. With some academic guidelines, some expectations, and a few boundaries, it's safe to turn students loose to explore different ways of telling a story.

A great way to get started tapping into students' creativity is to implement "tech choice boards" and "app smashing" in your classroom. Simply put, app smashing is when students use multiple apps to guide the creative process or showcase their work. App smashing also makes it easy to evaluate the skills and techniques being used by students. By introducing your students to a core of key apps (tech choice boards), giving them the parameters of the project, and supporting them as they learn and create, you will very quickly be facilitating app smashing in your classroom!

Publishing Student Writing

The days of formatting a story in MLA are over! With so many tools to help students produce a really polished-looking story -- yes, even one that looks like a book they can find in the library -- there's no excuse not to harness your students’ creativity and create something amazing! And because each tool gives the author different choices, the student can decide what fits his or her needs best for the story she's trying to tell. To start app smashing creative stories in your class, try these tech choices:

  • StoryJumper: This tool will allow students to create their own illustrations using the pieces available in the program or by importing their own pictures. StoryJumper even allows parents to buy a copy of the book.
  • Storybird: This program has beautiful pictures created by professional illustrators that students can use to tell their stories. It also allows parents to buy a copy of the book.
  • Adobe Voice, Write About This, and Book Creator: These apps create ebooks that allow students to type, record their voices, and add any pictures that can be saved to the camera roll. Adobe Voice has scaffolded pages to help students create anything from invitations and opinion pieces to narrative stories, but they must be fairly short and concise. Write About This gives a writing prompt to the student. It can be a prompt they choose from the library catalog, or you can upload your own. The app allows students to write and record their voices and save files to the app’s library or the camera roll. Book Creator is like the blank canvas of ebooks: Students can create anything they want as their own ebook. It can include pictures, words, voice, and video. In fact, the product they create in Adobe Voice and Write About This can be uploaded to Book Creator as one of the pages of the book.
  • Little Bird Tales: This program can be used on the computer or the iPad. It allows students to draw or import pictures and record their voices.

Publishing Poetry

Let students get really creative with producing poetry! Poetry is about the rhythm, rhyme, and flow of words, so give students a variety of ways to app smash and use their voices. This tech choice board gives students a choice for publishing three types of poetry.

  • Wordle: This tool lets students create a word cloud poem. Have students include all the nouns from a book about space, all the adjectives that describe a character's traits, or all the verbs that can be synonyms for the word "said" and turn it into a word cloud. Then save it to the camera roll.
  • Lark, by Storybird: Students use the beautiful pictures drawn by professional illustrators and drag pre-written words onto the picture to create short poems. They can then save their creations to the camera roll.
  • Tellagami and Chatterpix for Kids: These two apps can give voice to any picture that can be saved to the camera roll. After creating a poem using Wordle or Lark, have students import the picture and read their poem in one of these apps.
  • Pic Collage: This app lets students create a collage that can include any picture that can be saved to the camera roll. They can include a background, words, and stickers on the collage and save it to the camera roll.
  • Paper by 53: This app lets students create their own drawings and save them to the camera roll. They have a variety of tools to use when creating a drawing.
  • Book Creator: This versatile app lets students create their own ebooks. Encourage them to upload the picture made with Pic Collage, Paper by 53, or any video created with Tellagami or Chatterpix for Kids to enhance their book. That makes this app the ultimate app-smash-creation tool!

These tech choice boards are only the beginning. Students can mix and match tools in a variety of ways, including to explore nonfiction texts and create strong connections between content areas. Anything that saves to the camera roll is perfect for app smashing. Your students can be successful by having open-ended choices to produce and publish their writing in collaborative and interactive ways.