How I Use It
My class uses the computer lab in our school at least once a week every week for 30 minutes. Students are introduced to different fourth-grade-friendly sites over the first quarter of the year and then are frequently allowed to choose which sites they will visit later in the year. I always introduce Storybird within the first few weeks, usually after I have set up students' accounts under my teacher account. (Students' first names are listed, but Storybird is entirely private and the only contact information is my own.)
I let students explore Storybird on their own first and then take notes on how they are writing. If I notice that they are writing captions for pictures rather than telling stories, I use that as a teaching point during our next writing lesson. If they are frequently skipping fourth-grade writing conventions, such as misspelling high-frequency words, capitalization, or punctuation, I will review these foundational skills.
After students finish a story, they can publish on the site and share it with classmates. Classmates then read the stories, share thoughts, and tell what they liked. They can also "favorite" a story. As one student put it, "Storybird is like Facebook for kids!" As a tool for generating stories and helping students develop keyboarding skills, I highly recommend Storybird!
I was first introduced to Storybird three years ago. I introduced it to my class during one of our weekly visits to the school computer lab. Even before I was done helping students navigate to the site and log in, most of my class had already figured out how to use Storybird. They quickly learned how to use the tool and started using it all the time. Some students even got permission from parents to get up earlier in the morning so they could write at home!
I really like that Storybird helps students overcome one of the most challenging parts of writing narratives: where to start. Students can select from hundreds of thousands of submitted illustrations and use these as seeds for writing stories. While some educators have expressed concern that Storybird does not allow students to submit their own artwork, I think it is important to remember that Storybird is meant to help generate ideas from the artwork, not the other way around.